These days, community voices are sometimes loudest online. Such is the origin story for Harvest Community Foods. Founder Michael Leung opened the small space with big potential—243 Union Street—in April 2012 after conducting research through an online social enterprise called This Space. Polls showed Strathcona and Chinatown residents were looking for a community grocer who carried local foods. Six months after its opening, chef Andrea Carlson and her partner, architect Kevin Bismanis (both owners of Burdock & Co.) took up the call and bought Harvest.
Now, neighbours and visitors alike can find a variety of local grocery items in the pair’s serviceable shop. Shelves are stocked with household items like Sapadilla soaps, fresh local garlic, Vancouver Island salt, Earnest Ice Cream, and fresh kombucha, made in-house. The cherry on top, however, is Carlson’s hot ramen offerings. From pork shoulder and kazu chicken to vegan and vegetarian standouts that include squash and shiitake, ingredients imbibe in rich broths beaming with flavour.
In addition to using healthy, local ingredients in her signature dishes, Carlson and Bismanis also offer Harvest Community-Supported Agriculture boxes of produce, which allow purchasers to buy shares in farm crops; whatever is in season. The boxes’ contents are curated to suit their buyers—fresh eggs from Urban Digs, kale from Hazelmere, and even rice grown in Agassiz by Masa Shiroki, the sake maker at Granville Island Sake Company. As it began with a sharp ear turning to the community through This Space, Harvest will continue to heed the needs of their local army.
Photos by Angela Fama.