Learning To Grow: BioPod Workshops at John Volken Academy

Have you ever wanted to be closer to your food source? Interested in growing your own food locally and sustainably? Maybe just hoping to develop your green thumb?

You’re in luck!

The City of Surrey and the University of the Fraser Valley are hosting a series of 4 workshops in the John Volken Academy BioPods in March and April. These workshops are publically accessible, with some of our very own John Volken Academy students attending.

What Is The BioPod?

University students work within the soil of the JVA Biopod.

Photo by Arlen Redekop.

The BioPod initiative was born out of the City of Surrey approaching the John Volken Academy and the BC Agricultural Centre of Excellence to help develop a project to benefit social, environmental and business interests. Together, in partnership with the City of Surrey, local universities like UBC and SFU, W Global Greenhouse & Shelters, Affinor Growers, Growing Forward 2, Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC, and the Provincial and Federal Government, the BioPod was created!

Not only does the BioPod benefit agricultural research by finding better solutions for farming and growing plants, it also provides a training ground for everyone looking to learn more about sustainable agriculture and plant cultivation. Not to mention it helps create lifelong hobbies and skills for our students in recovery! Our students can receive a certificate related to greenhouse agriculture as a part of our addiction recovery program.

Tell Me About The Workshops

A team volken participant works with various plants in JVA"s Biopod.

The University of the Fraser Valley Agriculture Centre of Excellence is hosting these workshops geared towards New Farmers. Here’s a breakdown of what each workshop will entail:

  • Saturday, March 3, 2018, 1:00-5:00 pm — Principles of Organic Agriculture Part 1: Soil fertility, irrigation & water management
  • Saturday, March 24, 2018, 1:00-5:00 pm — Principles of Organic Agriculture Part 2: Organic vegetable greenhouse production, propagation & transplanting
  • Saturday, April 21, 1:00-5:00 pm — Pest and Disease Management, Good Agricultural Practice & Food Safety
  • Saturday, May 5, 1:00-3:00 pm — High-Value Crops & Niche Opportunities

“This series of four workshops will provide new or aspiring farmers with information essential to growing a successful garden. These introductory-level workshops are for people that would like to have an income from farming but need to improve their horticultural knowledge. The focus will be on growing organically on a small scale.”

Register here before spots fill up!

The Impact at JVA

For us at JVA, the BioPod represents more than growing food and providing a place of research. It’s a sanctuary – a place to grow, cultivate skills & develop a healthy way to recover from addiction.

Jeremy, a JVA participant, cultivates swiss chard in the BioPod.

One of our students, Jeremy tells us his thoughts about the BioPod:

“A lot of people often spend their life trying to find what they’re passionate about and what their “life’s calling” are. In the BioPod, I believe I’ve found mine.  Here at the John Volken Academy, in the bipod, I’ve been able to transfer my teenage hobby into a career path. I’ve learned how to be proficient in the greenhouse field as well as further my education in sustainability and modern agriculture.  With the hands-on training I’ve had, not only have I been able to understand the importance of modern farming, but also instill it in others the wonderful impact of organic gardening.

With technology becoming more ubiquitous in modern society, people become disconnected with how their food is produced and where it is coming from. A lot of people don’t have the time or even the desire to discover where their vegetables that they’re so fond of come from. Only when you stick your feet in the water, can you recognize how rewarding and fun it can be. For me, the experience has been one of a lifetime. Working with my hands has been extremely humbling and rewarding. It has inspired a feeling of independence and community that is unparalleled.”


Want to learn more about how the JVA program
overcomes addiction through
community & life skills like farming?