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How to turn the city into a farm

January 1st, 2010 · 7 Comments

And one more upbeat post for the new year: my story on a guy whom many hope is showing the way to the urban-agriculture future. Thanks to Peter Ladner for bringing Ward Teulon and his urban farming to my attention.

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  • Bill Lee

    Interesting story. However it is a matter of the cost of harvesting. I note that he has to have people buy in and pick up the harvest early and that there are no bananas. (ha!)

    And of course if he gets all the prime roof top land, that leaves the peasants with scrub strips in the hills.

    And how are Alan Garr’s bees on the convention centre, or are they being wintered?

    Jane Perrone, the British allotment horticultural writer, visited Vancouver and her artist sister here and all the allotments and other city-farms in Vancouver and the southern Vancouver Island region in preparation for her allotment book.

  • Eric

    Wow!! Very cool stuff.

  • Bob Ransford

    Thanks for telling this story, Frances. It is a small example of how quickly a revolution is taking place in how we marry our urbanism with our historic roots in local agriculture.

    This past summer I donated my large Steveston backyard to some local urban farmers– organized by a real leader in this movement, agrologist and local food activist Arzeena Hamir.

    They have started small but grew an abundant crop of tomatoes, beans, squash and a few other vegetables for local markets. About 800 square feet is now winter planted with garlic and next season’s beds are prepared for even more ambitious plans.

    I am hoping this summer and in subsequent seasons these talented young farmers will expand to take over my entire backyard– what is almost 1/4 acre that my grandfather once had under production, feeding our family and leaving enough product to sell at a summer roadside stand.

    I only wish I had realized then, when I was a teen not at all interested in toiling on a hobby farm, how much I could have learned so that today I would have the knowledge and skill to reap the bounty of the land that is my own backyard.

    We are only a couple of generations removed from a culture in this part of the world where almost all of what we ate was grown/produced within a few miles of where we lived.

    I am convinced we can be there once again with future generations, without compromising– in fact enhancing– our urbanism.

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    Very interesting project, with so much potential. With Parent Advisory Council funding cuts (BC Lottery), I think the COV should also facilitate all city schools to develop urban gardens too, the crops of which would be great for school fundraisers, as well as learning grounds for kids. Pass it on!

    I look forward to more interesting things to come from Mr. Ladner’s work in this field at SFU this year.

  • landlord

    Could be tricky. Pest control could become an issue. To avoid seasonal gluts (and consequent low prices) it will require quite a bit of cold-storage or processing/packaging, not to mention distribution. These are currently controlled by large retail food chains who are unlikely to make room for hobbyists. It will also require co-operation from health inspectors. On the other hand eating home-grown food for 2 or 3 months is do-able, as long as you really like zucchini (and slaughtering and dressing Gregor’s backyard chickens, not for the squeamish).

  • mary

    We already have a pest problem. I am out walking every morning before sun up, and I see rats and the reasons we have rats everywhere. It isn’t messy gardening, it’s inappropriate disposal of restaurant and fast foods by proprietors and customers, and discarded produce by retailers.


    Did anyone else miss the announcement that Peter Ladner is teaching at SFU’s Semester in Dialogue? His program is called Planning Cities as if Food Matters.