Kye Kocher is founder of the urban farm Grand Trunk Veggies. Grand Trunk Veggies is based out of West Hillhurst with 10 unique farm properties dotted throughout the city from their headquarters at 2102 5 Ave NW to their newest space just west of Calgary in Springbank.
Grand Trunk Veggies' headquarters is one of the most beautiful urban farming spaces I have ever visited. A midst overflowing zucchini bushes and rows of greens, you’ll find towering sunflowers grown of their own free will. These six-foot beauties attract numerous fluffy pollinators and will provide tasty seeds for squirrels and humans alike. By mid August, this space feels more like an edible urban jungle than a farm.
A strong team is what makes the soul of Grand Trunk Veggies. The crew is composed of what I consider ‘modern farmers’ from diverse and sometimes unexpected backgrounds. Kye signs off as a farmer/poet. Kye originally studied literature and these roots are re-emerging as he works to change the language used to understand farming and farmers. Kye advocates to change the common perspective held of the farming lifestyle: the pastoral rural dream with rolling landscapes, working dawn until dusk. This is simply not the reality of the modern farmer. Modern farming means bringing produce to the community while maximizing time, space and efficiency.
Until recently, Heather Stark was another member of the Grand Trunk Veggies crew. Like many ‘modern farmers’, Heather is not from an agricultural background. Heather found urban agriculture due, in part, to the incredible potential she sees for urban spaces to be utilized in multiple ways. Taking a hiatus from farming to pursue her degree in education, Heather sees urban agriculture as an important educational tool for the next generation. Agricultural spaces provide an opportunity to teach almost any subject, from math to science to history. Just ask Heather and you’ll be introduced to open-ended possibilities.
Tim Davies was another key member of Grand Trunk Veggies for the 2016 season. Without Tim’s incredible strength, daring attitude and impressive tool skills, Grand Trunk Veggies would not have been able to flourish as it has. Tim is currently studying for his P. Ag in Lethbridge and has hopes of establishing his own farm. One more powerful figure to start leading the charge in Alberta’s growing agriculture sector.
This season Grand Trunk Veggies will be co-managed by Laura-Leigh McKenzie. Laura-Leigh started urban farming with Grand Trunk Veggies as a volunteer. Laura-Leigh, like many others, found learning about different plants and working in the soil to be very therapeutic. As she accurately describes: ‘the farm is a place where you can be your truest self.’ What started as a past time after work, has now turned full time. Taking on a larger role with Grand Trunk Veggies this year, she's excited to see the business grow.
What strikes me most about Grand Trunk Veggies is the diversity of its crew and the drive of this farm team to change traditional ideas associated with farming. Though it started as an urban farm, Grand Trunk Veggies has evolved into an educational machine that is driving change in this city.