WineCollective’s Urban Farm Experience 2010


Last year, some of the staff of WineCollective decided to see what types of food would be able to grow in an urban garden at the de-facto WineCollective HQ. Behind HQ there was a stretch of grass, a large cement parking pad adjoining the back alley where people liked to dump unwanted furniture like stained couches and broken dishwashers, as well as a rundown shed with pieces of discarded carpet included. It wasn’t all bad however; the lot was south facing and gets a ton of sun. There were some raspberry bushes planted who knows how many years ago and a long suffering and diseased crab apple tree. We decided on a drastic makeover.

We destroyed the rotting back fence and rundown shed ourselves with sledgehammers and crowbars, which is something that I highly recommend by the way. We cleaned up typical back alley garbage. We found (among other things) a Hostess Chips bag with those little yellow orange and red gremlins which I believe were discontinued sometime in the late 1980s.

The cement pad was taken out by a bobcat and loaded into not one but two dump trucks to be taken to a concrete recycling facility south of Calgary. Two dump truck loads of screened loam were brought in, a new fence was erected, the diseased crab apple was (lovingly) taken down with a chainsaw and all of a sudden we had a 400 sq ft urban garden.

Now 2010, in a flurry of synergy, we have decided to live blog the 2010 WineCollective Urban Farm Experience. We don’t call it a garden because once we took the crab apple tree out, we also annexed some of the grass and are now dealing with about 750 sq ft of growing area and to be honest it is starting to feel like a farm.

At WineCollective we enjoy helping people learn about really great wines. We’re all about education and bringing you extraordinary wine to your door. Well, we also have a passion for locally grown produce. There is nothing better than knowing exactly what you are eating and exactly what went into its production. Most people would agree that a fine wine deserves to be paired with a fine meal and more often those meals are locally sourced.

For example, Rouge, here in Calgary, recently made it on a list of the top 100 restaurants in the world. What is Rouge known for? Locally sourced ingredients, including produce grown in their own garden, which the Globe calls “particularly impressive feat in weather finicky Calgary – where fresh produce is harvested daily”.

Further in that Globe article one of the chefs is quoted as saying “We let the garden dictate the menu… what we’re trying to promote here is a sense of place”. A sense of place in the wine industry is known as terroir. By understanding how local growing conditions can impact produce (whether parsnips or grapes) we think we will have a better understanding of wine and food together.

Also, we’d enjoy it if you learned something about urban gardening too. It is surprisingly easy and extremely satisfying. This summer you’ll see twitter updates (@WineCollective) as well as blog updates. High tech meets low tech. Blackberry meets blackberries.

Follow along as we update you frequently on our Urban Farm Experience.