Born from community project This Space, Harvest Community Foods more than lives up to local expectations.
Located on the recently resurrected Union street in Vancouver’s owntown East Side, Harvest is a start up that is definitely worth checking out. Originating from This Space, a community business project that asked members of the neighbourhood what they would like to see at the #243 address, Harvest is the direct result of this community engagement. The 600 square foot space is now home to a small eatery and community grocer with a very strong emphasis on local and sustainable products.
The doors were opened six months ago, but the location was turned over to Andrea Carlson, formerly the Executive Chef from Bishops, in October. With this changing of the guard came a new menu and a noticeable rise in customer levels. Featuring a small noodle menu during the week and a short list of brunch items on the weekends, Harvest, while keeping a few staples, varies the menu daily to keep your taste buds on their toes. With vegan, vegetarian, or good old-fashioned carnivore options, there is a little bit for everyone.
I was treated to the Pork Shoulder Ramen, a deliciously simple dish of egg noodles, tender pork shoulder, preserved egg, water crest, watermelon radishes, and candied bacon. Yes, candied bacon (as good as it sounds). The dish was fast, very flavourful, and filling. The almighty “3 F’s” I generally look for. I guess you could tack another F in there for frugal as the prices on the menu were very reasonable. While I munched away I had the opportunity to browse the shelves of local groceries that lined the wall, which were items that have been requested by people in the neighbourhood.
Carrying a small assortment of oils, snacks, preserves, grains, dairy, meats and general odds and sods, all the items are from local companies and farmers. Harvest’s emphasis on supporting other local business’s is what helps to set them apart and taps into a growing niche in Vancouver of people who are choosing to cast their monetary vote in support of local businesses and families. Though the selection is small, you can grab most of what you need there and they are happy to stock items by request.
Harvest also offers, and is the pick up location, for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Which features bi-weekly pick-ups of local seasonal produce for $33 a box. The trend towards local farm foods has received great support from local foodies and ever growing numbers of people joining the movement. Personally being a supporter of CSA’s, I can attest to the difference in flavour from eating local organic produce. While at times it may not have the pristine waxy sheen or the unexplainable huge mass of non-organic produce, shipped from who-knows-where, you can rest easy knowing it’s better for you and your money is going to a better home.
With the growing community support received at Harvest, Andrea Carlson is currently in the renovation process of a new restaurant (Burdock & Co.) on Main and 11th that will have the same emphasis on supporting and promoting local food. This movement back to local support in my opinion is a very good thing and a trend that we should be supporting. Check out Harvest and judge for yourself.