Butler Urban Farm
Kevin Pankewich – Kamloops Food Policy Council
We are sharing stories from the field, harvested by our Community Animators meeting with passionate school food advocates across BC. In honour of Farm to School Month 2023 we want to showcase the connecting power of food #FoodConnects.
Butler Urban Farm Site 2017
Butler Urban Farm Site 2023
Community partner planning meeting 2020
2023 Farm to School BC Field Trip with School to Butler Urban Farm
Tell me a bit about yourself. How would you describe your role/engagement in our community? What do you like to do for fun?
I grew up in Kamloops and keep coming back to it. For the last few years, I’ve been involved with the Kamloops Food Policy Council through the Butler Urban Farm. I’ve learned a lot about growing food while trying to find ways to lessen dependence on the broader socioeconomic structure called capitalism. I enjoy learning new things and being outside, and I hope to return to travelling again in the coming years. I am currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Human Rights and Social Justice at the university here.
How did your relationship with food start?
When I was 16 I decided I didn’t like industrial meat production and became a vegetarian. Then my interest in food as a concept started from the ground up – learning to cook using things that can be grown here that are better for you. If you can grow it you don’t have to buy it and you can become more autonomous (and eat better) while reducing the distance food has to travel, GHG emissions, and garbage. I took the Horticulture certificate program at TRU which was an amazing learning experience – this taught us how to grow all kinds of things, but my mind was fixed on edibility after learning more about the organoponico systems in Cuba and milpas in Chiapas, Mexico.
It’s surprising how many options we have in the valley bottoms here, (the areas that are largely paved over or growing grass) – and with attention paid to microclimates, our options expand substantially.
We in Secwepemcúl̓ecw (SD73) and southern BC generally could be growing a lot of the food we eat with how great the climate is here. But we’re wasting resources and poisoning ourselves with a bizarre cultural obsession: growing grass instead, and this got me interested in growing other things.
How does food connect you to your community in the present day?
The Butler Urban Farm has been a huge community connector through food – and I’m extremely lucky to have been involved with it. Very rarely does anyone sit down and say “let’s build community” and even more rarely does anyone want to join in with such an ambiguous goal. Community is built through shared visions and projects and that’s what happened here through food and sustainability. It is one of the most basic things to being a human (or an animal) – we all have to eat, and it usually gets better with more people involved.