The Playground: Great Northern Way Urban Orchard



Welcome to The Playground, a place for Vancouver families. I’m always on the lookout for fun stuff to do, so if there’s something happening that you think I should know about, don’t hesitate to contact me.


For most  folks Great Northern Way is just a quick connector between East Van and the westside. Unbeknownst to most there are some great (pun definitely intended) things taking place along this stretch of road – the Centre for Digital Media, the Equinox Gallery and my new favourite:  The Great Northern Way Urban Orchard.  Tucked amongst artists space, construction vehicles and a large pile of hay – the Urban Orchard is 10,000 square feet multi-use fruit and nut orchard that focuses on innovative food production.

We found a variety of fruits including apples and tomatoes in the various large planters. These large planters allow the orchard to be moved with a forklift – an experiment on the viability of a mobile urban orchard.  We loved exploring every planter and finding out what was growing in them.  Sadie found great delight in being able to pick a tomato or apple of her choosing – something us apartment dwellers and non-green thumbs don’t get to do often.

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No one was around on the sunny Wednesday that we were there and it was nice to explore the grounds on our own terms.  Everything about it feels open and accessible as if you were walking in your own garden. This makes one very mindful of respecting the grounds and making sure that you don’t do anything that can prevent others from enjoying it as well.

You definitely don’t feel like you are in the country while visiting the Urban Orchard and it doesn’t pretend to be.  It’s main purpose is an experiment in food production in less than desirable conditions – like a parking lot in the middle of the city.  It’s a great place to visit none the less and very inspiring for kids and adults to see the possibilities of sustainable food production.

Along with year long school and volunteer opportunities, the orchard is home to two annual celebrations – a Spring Planting Celebration and a Heritage Harvest Festival in the fall which takes place this Sunday, September 23rd.It is a free family friendly event featuring multicultural foods, mural painting, seed bomb making and apple cider pressing.  There will also be lots of cultural performances by the Siyamin Stamsh Canoe Family of the Squamish Nation, KUNDA African Culture Music & Dance and the PANJ Girls.

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September 23, 1-4pm | Great Northern Way Urban Orchard
555 Great Northern Way, Vancouver (at the west end of Great Northern Way Campus)