Growing food on a farm is more than simply feeding people.It’s about “teaching compassion, sharing knowledge, and giving back to the community,” according to David Tang, CEO of Tzu Chi Canada, a Buddhist foundation.
Tzu Chi’s nine acres of farmland, located at 9851 Finn Rd., aims to promote environmental awareness.
“We want to teach people the importance of taking care of our planet and also promote the benefits of vegetarian meals,” said Tang.
The foundation began growing corn, berries, kiwis and cherries last year. They have since expanded their produce repertoire to other vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries, lettuce, peppers and more.
Among the endless rows of seedlings and leafy vegetables is a corner designated for garden plots that families can rent.
These plots are for local families who wish to grow whatever produce they like, according to Tang.
“It’s heartwarming and great to see when an entire family comes every week to water their small garden and cultivate it,” he said.
“The kids learn that this is how vegetables grow from seeds, and this teaches them from a young age that everyone should contribute their efforts to love the land and mother nature.”
Tang told the Richmond News that the farm has run very well for the past year due to its volunteers.
“Volunteers come in to help water and grow all our vegetables, without them it would be difficult with such a big plot of plan.”
And while not all volunteers are experts in the agricultural field, Tang said everyone is learning from each other on how to take care of each plant.
The farmland, Tang added, was donated to the foundation in early 2021, from a generous owner who wanted the land to be “used to help others.”
The fruits and vegetables grown on the land can be purchased by community members but are also often donated to the food bank.
Money from produce sales then gets donated to charities in need of funds.
“We use the money for helping local and less fortunate families,” said Tang, adding that they named the farm “great love” as a reminder of the foundation’s original purpose in helping people.
“We’re also helping some refugee families arriving in Canada right now as well.”
Furthermore, some of the funds are used toward programs to teach children about farming and nature.
The farm is free for the public to visit However, Tzu chi encourages people to make a small donation when they can.