Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hey Vancouver, kale me maybe?

On the left and on the right. 
Up a hill and down a street. 
On the corner and behind the wall.
One for her and one for him. 
It's 'cause they care and 'cause they share.
Community gardens are everywhere!
That was how this food warrior felt while traipsing through the streets of downtown Vancouver. Everywhere I turned there was yet another large community garden with well organized plots and extremely bountiful produce. Each of these gardens had a sign informing people that they were welcome to walk around but to please not pick the produce since it belonged to individual plot owners.  And from what I saw, the signage was observed since there was plentiful ripe harvest throughout the many gardens I walked through last week.
Some of the plots were haphazard and some were meticulously planned out.  Some plots had garden gnomes or other accoutrements of a regular front or backyard garden.  In a city where most people live in apartments or condos due to the highest real estate values in Canada, these plots offer the only access to getting their hands dirty in soil that is attached to the planet (as opposed to container gardening).
This is exactly the case for Mike (pictured below) and his partner Lisa.  This young couple finally got a plot in a community garden operated by Evergreen Canada across from Vancouver's City Hall after a two or three year wait.  They pay a nominal annual fee for a small plot that allows them to grow a variety of vegetables including the very successful purple kale pictured with Mike.
Mike and Lisa are from the Okanagan Valley region of British Columbia which is prime farmland nestled within the Rockies north east of Vancouver. They both miss access to land and are considering leaving the city.  In the meantime they are enjoying the fruits of their first year's harvest but won't grow quite so much kale next year since they had such an abundance. 
Mike said that Evergreen Canada provided loads of workshops to help them and also said that Vancouver's mayor was extremely supportive towards urban agriculture initiatives.  When I asked him if he knew anyone with urban chickens (legal in Vancouver) he said that they didn't know anyone with a house since they are so expensive but they had friends of friends that kept hens. 
Perhaps community chicken coops are next on the scene in forward thinking Vancouver? (There is already a chicken co-op that allows Vancouver hen owners to share costs and info about maintaining city chickens.)

Mike beside his purple kale.

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