by Michelle Hopkins , Posted Friday 23rd September

Kareno Upstaging Ian Lai (courtesy Tourism Richmond)

Ian Lai is so passionate about growing food it’s contagious.

Ian, a trained chef, traded in the cache of executive chef at top restaurants across Canada, to teach children, youth and adults the importance and wonder of growing one’s own food at Richmond’s Terra Nova Sharing Farm.

Ian, who now divides his time between instructing at the Northwest Culinary Academy and the Terra Nova Schoolyard Society, has long fostered the idea that if the elementary age students grow it, they will eat it.

He spreads his message to adults as well and often hosts cooking classes other food-related educational programs throughout the year.

Ian Lai is so passionate about growing food it’s contagious.

Ian, a trained chef, traded in the cache of executive chef at top restaurants across Canada, to teach children, youth and adults the importance and wonder of growing one’s own food at Richmond’s Terra Nova Sharing Farm.

Ian, who now divides his time between instructing at the Northwest Culinary Academy and the Terra Nova Schoolyard Society, has long fostered the idea that if the elementary age students grow it, they will eat it.

He spreads his message to adults as well and often hosts cooking classes other food-related educational programs throughout the year.

Recently, the tireless advocate for harvesting locally grown food, invited a few friends to take part in a dinner under a blanket of stars, smack in the midst of the urban farm. The night was cool but no one seemed bothered because Ian prepared a delectable menu, using as many vegetables and fruits as he could from the community gardens.

Before dinner, we toured the land. There is so much to see here – row upon row of vegetable fields, an orchard filled with apples as well as a chicken coop. A really unique feature, and there are many, is the large cob oven used to bake pizza and bread. It was created out of 1898 fire bricks, as well as glass and porcelain salvaged from the Middle Arm of the Fraser River. Right beside the oven, an artist was painting a scene of the gardens. Ian took the opportunity to point out that the rural farm is used by many people who don’t have a plot – some paint, others take an evening stroll and others come to volunteer.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed a fabulous dinner from the harvest, including Ian’s mouthwatering wheat bread which he grinds and bakes himself. A few of us brave souls even tried a glass of dandelion wine that Ian brews himself … not too bad actually.
As I said early, his passion for eating local is contagious. Even me, a self-professed city slicker is growing tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in my backyard!

A Little History: (Courtesy of the Terra Nova Rural Farm)
– it is nestled within 63 acres of rural park land in Richmond, B.C.
– the farm operates on 5,000 square feet of growing space
– Terra Nova is a nonprofit community based project run by volunteers and is open to Richmond schools and organizations
– in 10 years, the farm has provided more than 200,000 pounds of produce to the Richmond Food Bank
– the public is welcome to come and stroll the grounds and ask Ian questions
– There are 6 community gardens, comprising of 300 individual garden plots, with a wait list of 180
– The yearly cost for a plot is $40.00
– The gardens are pesticide-free

 

[For more information on Community Gardens in Richmond, please see the Richmond Food Security Society]

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