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Our Mission: To INSPIRE Urbanites to Grow Their Own Food and Reconnect With Nature

As BUFCO heads into its fifteenth year, I reflect back on our metamorphosis from mindless consumers to conscious producers. We were driven by a need to connect with the land, to get back to basics and to generally feel happier. That led us to spend more time in our garden and kitchen and less time in shopping malls and restaurants. It was a little shift that ultimately made a huge impact on our lives.

The simple act of gardening reconnected us with nature and plugged us into a force with a magnetic pull so strong that it attracted others beyond our sphere. Curious neighbours peaked over our fence surprised to discover what a tiny urban yard could yield, not just food and flowers but conversation and connection, peace and calm in a little oasis where we could slow down and relax, where beauty was revealed and our troubles forgotten, at least for a while. It was a joy to hear from people who started growing their own food in their own gardens and who thanked us for being a catalyst to their change.

In classic reciprocity, their inspiration became BUFCO’s mission, and helped us articulate the values that ground us. Based on the word INSPIRE, we wrote this acrostic poem to express the values at the heart of our work so we could share them with our staff, clients, customers, suppliers, and now you, our loyal blog readers.  

IMAGINE
Nurture Nature
Sow Seeds of Positive Change
Plant and Play
Investigate and Innovate
Rest and Relax
Eat

What is so wonderful about these guiding principles is that there is so much room to expand on their meaning and allow them to grow with us as our knowledge and experience grows. We challenge ourselves every day to bring these values to life, to put them into action, to explore their potential and to expand their impact.

Here is an example of one interpretation:

IMAGINE that you can learn how to grow your own food even though you think you have a black thumb. How your windowsill can become a little herb garden, your balcony gets just enough sun to support a healthy tomato plant, your front yard can be transformed from lawn to a living meadow. By harnessing your imagination you can establish even the simplest of gardens and tap into the transformative power of growing something.  What can you imagine?

NURTURE NATURE and recognize we are not outside it but all part of nature. It’s reassuring to learn the simple elegance of how all organisms work together for the health of the whole. That trees speak to each through their root systems with the help of fungal networks, that bacteria feed the soil nutrients when they receive carbohydrates from the sun, that in their quest to feed their community, bees pollinate our plants that in turn feed us and we in turn can feed our families. We can make the choice to work with nature, to support its power to feed the soil and reduce bug infestations, or we can work against nature with pesticides and synthetic chemicals that poison and contaminate the environment. The choice is ours. What other ways can nature be nurtured?

SOW SEEDS OF POSITIVE CHANGE and by doing so in our neighbourhoods, at home, school and work, we have the opportunity to contribute and share our time, our knowledge our abundance with others. We can acknowledge our wealth and recognize that by sharing, it grows exponentially for all.  What seeds can you sow?

PLANT AND PLAY because planting is an act of hope. Every time I put my hands in the soil I get a little thrill of anticipation, knowing that I will soon get to see the garden grow and transform, that the blooms will come and brighten my backyard and bring visitors of all description. Some will fly in to forage, others will knock on my gate for a visit. I am excited to see what the new crop I am trying looks, smells, and tastes like. I get to move this plant from here to there and putter and prune. This is my idea of play. What’s yours?

INVESTIGATE AND INNOVATE, allowing curiosity be our guide so we can tap into the wonder of nature and the joy of learning. It is empowering to know that, by simply using our powers of observation we can understand better what a plant needs, which is the first step in know what to provide. It could be a drink of water or a little more sun. Perhaps it needs something to support its growth, which may require a little innovation if you don’t have a trellis handy. You may discover that a wrought iron headboard left out as garbage is the perfect trellis. Jerry rigging is so much fun and finding a freebee is invigorating. What are you curious to learn about and put to the test?

REST AND RELAX because, let’s face it, gardening can be hard work. So it is important to take regular breaks, put your feet up and do absolutely nothing, which is in fact doing something! This can be a challenging value to live by, especially for us thrill-seeking urbanites who are wired to work. Gardening is an activity that we can do well into old age, if we take care of ourselves and recognise when our backs are aching or our knees are sore, or we’re hot and thirsty.  We need to rest. Taking time to unplug and rejuvenate is vital for overall good health, something I need to remind myself of often. So our garden includes a place to hammock, where we can stare off into space, read a good book or listen to the ball game. How do you like to relax?

EAT! Our garden also includes a little dining table and chairs and a BBQ so we can cook and eat in the garden. Feeding myself and my family can be a daily chore or thrilling adventure depending on my mood and what else is going on at the time. Either way, I often find that simple is better. And what can be more simple than sitting on the side of a garden bed munching on sweet cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas? Taking the time to eat good food with good friends and family is one of life’s great pleasures, made even better when we eat food that we’ve nurtured and grown it ourselves. What do you like to grow and eat?

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