Sustainable SFU launches premium harvest box program

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This afternoon, Sustainable SFU launched its newest local food program, the FarmCity Co-Op’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Box, at Cornerstone Town Square on Burnaby Mountain.

The initiative offers SFU community members the opportunity to subscribe to a weekly delivery of seasonal vegetables from a new cooperative of Metro Vancouver farmers.

The premium package, priced at $42 per week, will include a diverse mix of veggies direct from nine Metro Vancouver farms. The box will also include honey and fresh cut flowers; Sustainable SFU explained in a media release that, “bees and pollinators are a key component of healthy food systems.”

Several years ago, students and faculty came up with the idea to host a pocket market on Burnaby Campus, intending to bring local food up the mountain. However, as Mike Soron, executive director of Sustainable SFU, explained, “the market struggled to gain enough customers and vendors to really be successful, so we wanted to think of new ways of bringing local food to the mountain.”

With that in mind, Sustainable SFU began looking for a new partner and found their perfect match with the FarmCity Co-op. This community of small farms in southwestern British Columbia upholds the importance of “environmentally, socially, financially and ethically sustainable farming practices,” which fits within Sustainable SFU’s mandate to pursue a sustainable future at SFU campuses.

“Local food is healthy, it’s seasonal, it’s sustainable,” Soron said, whereas importing food from places such as New Zealand and California requires large amounts of water, fertilizers, and pesticides in production as well as fossil fuels and energy in transportation.

“By having [food] grown more locally at small farms, the ecological footprint in getting it to your table can often be much much smaller than having it be grown elsewhere,” Soron said.

Sustainable SFU already offers two similar harvest boxes: the Value Box and the Local Box. For $8.50 per week, students can receive at least seven varieties of fruits and vegetables, although they may be sourced from international producers. The Local Box, priced at $15.75 per week, also includes at least seven varieties of local of fruits and vegetables, but is sourced mostly from local producers in the Fraser Valley Region.

Although the FarmCity Co-Op CSA Box is significantly more expensive than previous options, Soron said that they wanted to present an option, “for someone who wanted to go the full mile and really commit to community supported agriculture, to sustainably grown produce by local farmers that they could email and talk to and really get to know.”

He continued, “The new box that we’re introducing this year is a little more costly than a full subscription, but really does offer that premium full experience of being involved with the local food economy.”

The CSA boxes will be available on Wednesday afternoons starting at 3:00 p.m. outside of Cornerstone and will continue to be available into October. Distributors will be joined by FarmCity’s “Fresh Cart” market stand, which will act as a “mini farmers’ market” and will sell the same produce available in the CSA boxes.