Sara Dent

Think you don’t regret all those high school afternoons wasted at the mall or the skate park? Just wait till you meet Sophia Vartanian, a Vancouver, B.C.-based urban farmer. At 16 years old, her resume is already more impressive than some twice her age. On the day we spoke, she was busy wrestling a solar panel project into fruition, laying the groundwork for a farm at her high school, and gearing up to deliver a TEDxKids B.C. talk titled “Don’t Eat Your Farmer.”

Vartanian gave me a tour of her high school — or rather, her high school lawn, which currently houses a few sparsely planted raised beds. The sunflowers and radishes had gone to seed, and although it was a valiant effort at community gardening, it was also a far cry from the full-fledged farm she has planned. She envisions a closed-loop system complete with compost, grey water reclamation, and rainwater collection — and, of course, lots of vegetables. “We want chickens and goats too; that’s the ideal,” she adds.