I spent the last 26 years helping businesses become more successful. It not only helped the owners and employees of those companies feed their families, it also helped me feed mine. I love working in branding and advertising and I am always looking for ways to use my skills to help others. For a number of years I have supported my community through pro-bono work for organizations such as the Variety Club, BC Cancer Foundation and the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau.
I am also an avid gardener and spent the last decade landscaping and planting what had once been a plot of weeds and asphalt in Strathcona.
With all this inspiration literally in front of me it is surprising that it took a conversation with an old friend (and single mother of two) who I had been helping by developing packaging for her fledgling spice company. In a word, "seeds". To be more exact, heirloom seeds for sustainable food resources. Seeds are really at the heart of the matter. Without seeds there are no plants, no fruits, no gardens, well you get the picture. I came up with the idea to create my own seed company with a focus on heirloom seeds and a mandate to promote sustainable gardening practices with non-GMO seeds. Recently I added organic kelp fertilizer to my products in order to help people grow nutritious food and avoid using chemical based fertilizers that do not contain as many nutrients as nature intended and over the long term can harm soil.
I have been very impressed with ideas coming out of innovative local businesses like Sole Food and Save On Meats to hire people living on social assistance in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. So to further my efforts in my community, I pledged a portion of all profits would go to the Urban Seed Project so I could help kids and families living in the Downtown Eastside access healthy, local food and better opportunities.
photo of Judy © Rick Etkin 2013
Strathcona is Vancouver's first residential neighbourhood. Over 125 years old, it has been considered one of the seedier part of the city for the last 60 years.
It is a neighbourhood of contrasts. Close-knit neighbours on one side, while others don't even share a common language. High earning professionals and addicts scrounging for their next hit. Elderly immigrants and young hip families.
I learned much about small space gardening from my neighbours here. My neighbours to the west are Cantonese and grow magnificent crops, from greens in an old bathtub to rows of squash and beans growing on lines from their driveway to their second floor balcony. From my neighbour to the east I learned about growing peppers in a white bucket to bounce the light. From local kids I learned that "inspiring kids" does more than "instructing" them.
It's an education I won't soon forget.
I spent 13 years in this neighbourhood but life has a way of redirecting us. In 2015 we moved from Strathcona to 2 acres in Mission, BC an hour outside of Vancouver.