Strathcona: Truck farmer grows awareness for gardening in small spaces

Judy Kenzie uses mazda pick-up as teaching tool at events across the city

Strathcona resident Judy Kenzie has always loved plants and estimates she had 38 at one time in her bedroom as a young girl.

Ive loved plants as far back as I can remember, Kenzie told the Courier during a visit to the familys tree-lined character home.

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So it made sense that while mulling over a second career, the advertising and marketing professional turned to plants and flowers for inspiration. Today, Kenzie is the founder of Strathcona 1890 Urban Seed Collections, which sells heirloom seeds packaged specifically to help gardeners with little or even no yard an opportunity to produce a portion of the food they eat.

Kenzie put her background in marketing and illustration to good use for the launch of her online business creating historical botanical labels meant to capture the feel of early Vancouver for each seed collection. Kenzie has carefully grouped heirloom seeds into collections for sale with titles such as Salsa Garden, Quick and Dirty, Salad Sampler, Edible Flowers, Junior Farmer and Bee Garden. Even Kenzies business cards are made from tiny envelopes packed with seeds.

Kenzie has taken an offbeat approach to advertising her online business. Last year, Kenzie stumbled upon the website for Truckfarm.org, a mobile garden education project founded in Brooklyn, NY. The food and film project chronicles the adventures of a group of urban gardeners who travel the streets of Brooklyn with a full-fledged garden planted in the bed of a pick-up truck. On the website, the founders encourage other urban farmers to follow their lead and the idea for the Strathcona 1890 Truck Farm was born.

Kenzie said it helped that the family already owned an aging 1993 Mazda pick-up truck that hadnt been driven for six years. With the help of a friend, Kenzie sawed off rusty bits, taped up others and lined the truck bed with plastic and landscaping cloth.

I was surprised to find out the truck already had drainage holes, said Kenzie. Who knew?

Kenzie then loaded up the back with soil and planted as many vegetables and edible flowers as she could fit into the four-by-six-foot truck bed. Last December, Kenzie planted a small spruce tree in the truck and decorated it with battery-operated Christmas lights. Kenzie said while the tree was a hit everywhere she drove, it was unfortunately stolen in the New Year.

People really stared at truck then, said Kenzie, who was garnering attention for the mobile garden. Bus drivers would give me the thumbs up and one lady blew me a kiss. It was really nice.

Kenzie now uses the Truck Farm to encourage gardeners of all skill levels and raise awareness of the fact they can create their own local, sustainable food resources. In keeping with that theme, the trucks licence plate reads NON GMO. Kenzie attends community events, such as the recent Car Free Day festival and the Pacific National Exhibition to speak about sustainable gardening, and will visit almost any community group or school that asks.

sthomas@vancourier.com

twitter.com/sthomas10

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