Meet the Urban Farming Poh-Pohs
BC farms come in all shapes and sizes. Of the hundred or more growers on Vancouver Farmers Markets’ vendor roster, there is huge diversity in the size and scope of each operation – from northern cattle ranches that stretch for hundreds of acres to high production farm plots thriving in the heart of the city.
Some of the newest vendors to join our markets this season are the Urban Farming Poh-Pohs, a collective of Chinese seniors growing vegetables in the parking lot of Wing Wing Sausage Co. at E. Hastings & Jackson Ave. A joint project of Carnegie Community Centre and Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, the garden has been up and running for two seasons, providing an opportunity for seniors in the community to come together, share skills, and grow healthy food.
The Poh-Pohs (Cantonese for “grandmothers”) grow a mixture of vegetables including seasonal choi like sāi kàhn (celery) and loeng gwaa (bitter melon), as well as potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. They work communally and share everything they harvest, with the more experienced growers helping those learning to garden for the first time. Their small but mighty plots help to supplement the seniors’ diets with fresh, healthy produce – an important act of food sovereignty in a neighbourhood where fresh food is rapidly disappearing along with its green grocers.
This season, the Poh-Pohs have grown enough surplus vegetables to bring to the greater community – available for purchase on select dates at our Main St. Station Market as part of the Street Vendors Collective.
Catch them at the market on August 21 with an assortment of produce, including their specialty celery – perfect for making the sautéed celery greens dish below from Urban Farming Poh-Poh member Yu Li!
Sautéed Celery Greens
by Yu Li
1 bunch sāi kàhn stalks (Chinese celery variety that is smaller, more aromatic than common celery), diced without leaves.
3/4 lb. snow peas
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
2 gloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. sesame oil
Salt or oyster sauce to taste.
On medium-high heat, sautée sāi kàhn and snow peas with onion, ginger, and garlic until tender – 3-5 minutes. Add oyster sauce or salt to taste. Serve with a protein main or chop mixture for use as a filling for dumplings.
Learn more about Urban Farming Poh Pohs at vancouverfoodnetworks.com.
For information about the availability of local Chinese vegetables, check out Hua Foundation’s Seasonal Choi Guide.
Banner photo: Xie Hui Tuan, a member of Urban Farming Poh-Pohs. All photos by Jen Candela.