A pilot farming project in Canada's poorest area code is bringing dirt - without the hurt - to Vancouver's gritty Downtown Eastside.

Volunteers worked tirelessly Saturday to build a community garden. Although urban community gardens are becoming common sights across Metro Vancouver, the East Hastings Street location is quite different because it will be a fully functional farm once completed.

"They'll be growing vegetables that will be sold to restaurants and the like in the Downtown Eastside," Projects in Place Society's Bryce Gauthier told CTV News.

It will also inject a dozen seasonal jobs into the poor neighbourhood.

Seann Dory, a project leader with United We Can, said the group is working with an idea called spin farming, where intensive growing is done in a relatively small space.

"So we'll do multiple rotations so we can get as much produce out of this half acre as we possibly can," he said.

The land has been donated on a renewable three-year lease from the Astoria Hotel, located right next door.

Despite the good cheer of the urban farm's first day, syringes, condoms -- and even dead rats -- visible on the ground are a constant reminder of the challenges ahead.

But this Downtown Eastside project is a seed of hope that should bear fruit -- and vegetables -- in one of Canada's most troubled communities.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger