Early Sunday morning, nine people pack into a grey van near Bathurst Street and St. Clair Avenue and head north to where the houses stop and the farmland begins.

Their destination is the McVean Farm, a 20-hectare slab of land in Brampton that’s cultivated by more than a dozen people. But the rows of vegetables and herbs are easy to miss.

The northern-most crops bump against a subdivision of houses. The road hugging the land is being widened to make room for the development, the construction obscuring the farm’s sign and entrance.

“In some ways, it’s hard to think there’s a farm here,” said Andrea Peloso as she crouches beside a row of potato plants, yanking out weeds by hand.

She is among a team of interns working for The Cutting Veg, an organic enterprise run by Daniel Hoffmann that rents 1.6 hectares on the McVean lot.

Today, people like Hoffmann are trying to reconnect urbanites to the farm, and in doing so, re-establish the farmer as a neighbour — one not defined by proximity, but by a common, more intimate connection — food.

It’s an attempt to alter the decades-long trend that has seen farms grow into massive operations often sending food to farflung locations while at the same time suburban developments gobble up valuable farmland.