Producer/Supplier of the Year 2014

The parking lot of a stadium may be an unlikely spot to grow the ingredients that spark inspiration for Vancouver’s best dishes-think peppery arugula, candy-striped Chioggia beets, juicy French-origin strawberries, and tender filet beans-but that’s exactly where Sole Food has set up shop. You’ll find its farms in aggressively urban settings all over the city, in fact: one by Pacific Central station, another beneath the Grandview viaduct, and a third behind Strathcona’s Astoria Hotel. Since starting up in 2009, Sole Food has farmed hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh produce, a clever system of mobile planters allowing founders Michael Ableman and Seann Dory to create makeshift farms wherever they can persuade landowners to let them do so-and when developers take back control of their lots, the boxes are easily carted somewhere new. From their current locales, they’re growing top-notch artisanal produce that’s won fans in the kitchens of Hawksworth, The Acorn, Wildebeest, and beyond. And the pair are cultivating opportunity as well as veggies-Sole Food provides dozens of farming jobs to Vancouverites struggling with addiction or mental illness. The food still comes first, though. “Our social mission is great,” says Dory, “but if our product wasn’t good the chefs wouldn’t be supporting us. They love the product.”