WE Box is getting locally-grown food onto Windsor tables

Angelica Haggert
By Angelica Haggert March 30, 2018 14:56

Shaughnessy Ross helps customer Derrick Biso pack his WE Box items into his backpack for his bicycle ride home. Photo by Angelica Haggert.

By Angelica Haggert

In a small backyard in the Devonshire Heights neighbourhood in Windsor, Bishops Urban Farms is busy planting, growing and harvesting microgreens.

Microgreens are young vegetables, harvested early and used in salads and juices or as a garnish. They’re also a healthy snack and can contain up to 40 per cent more nutrition than a fully grown plant.

Breanna Whitford and Bryan Kavanaugh are raising their young son, working full time day jobs outside the home and also managing their urban farming business.

“It started out us just growing for our family,” said Whitford. “But we realized there’s a lot of people interested in fresh local food. It was important for us to continue to spread the message of local and organic, your greens and the benefits there.”

The couple focuses on quick-growing plants like spinach and arugula.

“We were finding it hard to find good, organic greens,” said Whitford. “The first couple years we learned a lot.” 

Bryan Kavannaugh, of Bishops Urban Farm, demonstrates one of the pieces of equipment they use in their backyard farm. Photo by Angelica Haggert.

It’s only their second year running a full-fledged business, but Bishops Urban Farms has partnerships with restaurants, does private sales and provides content for the WE Box.

Coordinated by Border City Urban Farms, the WE Box is a box of local produce, all grown in Windsor-Essex.

“It seems like everybody wants local food and everybody values it, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way for people to get their hands on that,” said Robert Ross, one of the Border City founders. “We wanted to offer a unique service where we curate everything. We’re grabbing the best of what we’ve got and we’re putting it together.”

The WE Box is a subscription service. Customers reserve their box through the website, then pick up each month at different local businesses. Ross said the benefits of local food extend beyond the nutrition levels of the vegetables.

“It brings communities together. Being in touch with the people who grow our food, joining a community garden and being in touch with the neighbours that share that space with you has community building benefits,” said Ross.

March’s pickup took place at Chapter Two Brewing Company in the Walkerville and Ford City neighbourhoods. Chris Holt, Chapter Two owner and Windsor city councillor, opened the doors to his business before it had even officially launched just to accommodate the vegetable pick up.

“We’ve always imagined ourselves becoming a community hub,” said Holt. “It’s a natural fit.”

Holt has also been a WE Box subscriber and thinks programs like this help prevent food deserts (areas where it is difficult to access fresh food).

“We don’t really have a grocery store really close to us, so coming here people get exposed to the good food.”

Derrick Biso rode his bike to pick up his WE Box because he loves the idea of community-supported agriculture.

“I really enjoy the idea of cooperatives and collectives,” said Biso. “And the food is amazing. It’s nice to be able to support our local food systems.”

Border City Urban Farms also organizes community gardens around the city and the Downtown Windsor Farmer’s Market.

Angelica Haggert
By Angelica Haggert March 30, 2018 14:56

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