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Jared Regier: Intensive Vegetable Production: Applying the tools and techniques of a market gardener in your own backyard
Most commercial farms today span distances farther than the eye can see, but Jared’s multi-location urban farm tucks intensive vegetable production neatly into the fabric of the city. In order for his farm to succeed with only small plots of land, Jared had to figure out how to implement market growing methods at the human scale, and in the process, he has discovered a world of improvements that deserve attention from home gardeners. In this talk, Jared will unlock and explain the most accessible tools and techniques he uses that you can apply in your own backyard.
Jared Regier is a farmer and educator from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who is passionate about building more sustainable and resilient local communities. For the past five years, Jared has operated Chain Reaction Urban Farm in Saskatoon, but the road to farming wasn’t a straight one. After first completing a degree in architecture, he transitioned into the field of education with the idea that he might create more change in his community as a teacher. During a ten-year career as a high school teacher, he developed a specialized program called Earthkeepers to help equip students with the skills and values necessary for sustainable living and active citizenship. Food was a significant focus of this program, and the lessons learned here about the impacts of our food choices in local and global contexts left their mark. The subject of food production quickly escalated to the top of Jared’s lengthy list of interests.
When it came time for a career transition, farming was the obvious next step, but without land or money, the farming model had to be different than the norm. Since Jared longed for better access to fresh high quality vegetables, his farm set out to meet this demand using an urban land base. A collection of large unused private backyards were rented for vegetable production, farm memberships were sold to Saskatoon families, and Chain Reaction Urban Farm was born. The size of the farm has grown since that first year but quality food and sustainable practices have remained top priorities. After earning the 2017 SABEX business award for excellence in sustainability, the farm continued operation as usual and has peaked at a comfortable size now serving 40 to 50 families each season.
In the process of starting an urban farm, Jared learned that there is a large gap between the practices of the typical backyard gardener and the market gardener so his attention has begun to shift back toward education. Today, his experiences in architecture, education, and farming have found harmony in a new project called the Vegetable Academy, an educational online membership community that serves keen backyard vegetable gardeners. Jared enjoys the rewards of helping others take responsibility for growing their own food, and the endless design challenges and limitless learning opportunities in growing food are sure to keep the work interesting for years to come.