Gardens on wheels take root in Surrey

April 25, 2016

An idea to grow vegetables literally à la cart is taking root with the launch of Gro-Carts Mobile Gardens and an inaugural planting workshop in Surrey.

SFU urban studies graduate students Tammas Grogan and Kate Elliott conceived the idea to help those in Surrey Centre who don’t have access to food security for financial or geographical reasons. The students were grand-prize winners of last fall’s SFU Surrey-Central City student community engagement competition, which netted them $3,000 to carry out their innovation

They’ve secured 20 shopping carts in which to create mobile vegetable gardens, planting everything from lettuce and broccoli to edible flowers.

Grogan is a Fraser Valley horticulturist and urban farmer who became interested in experimenting with methods of growing food for those without access to garden space. She will provide horticultural support to those who will be “adopting” the carts to tend and use as a food source over the coming months. Cart adopters have joined in the planting process, which included a First Nations blessing ceremony.

 “We will be planting a variety of fast-growing vegetables and salad greens and will dress up the carts with edible flowers,” says Grogan, noting the pair has received support from such companies as Buckerfields and Ecoworks Landscape Services.

Gardeners can expect a first harvest in about six weeks. Details on how to care for the cart garden will be shared over time, and a series of follow-up meetings are planned on what to expect growth-wise over time. They will also bring in experts on such topics as gardening and healthy eating.

Grogan hopes the prototype will help advance the movement towards alternative mobile gardens and create a new use for grocery carts in need of reconditioning. The pair also plan to expand the idea among local restaurants and into other regions.