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Urban Agriculture Notes

by City Farmer - Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


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Now Celebrating Our 36th Year!

Mayor of Vancouver Proclaims November, 2003 "City Farmer Month"!!

Established 1978, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Prepared by Michael Levenston, Executive Director
cityfarmer@gmail.com

On-line on the World Wide Web since October 15, 1994.
© Copyright City Farmer 1994-2012

E-mail us at: cityfarmer@gmail.com

Mailing Address:
City Farmer - Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture
Box 74567, Kitsilano RPO,
Vancouver, B.C. V6K 4P4 Canada
Office Phone: (604) 685-5832

Map showing the location of our garden at 2150 Maple Street.

Garden Location:
Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden
2150 Maple Street, Kitsilano, (6th and Maple)
Vancouver BC, V6J 3T3 Canada
Garden Phone: (604) 736-2250

City Farmer runs the Vancouver Regional Compost Hotline: 604.736.2250
Email the Hotline at: composthotline@telus.net


Go to our new City Farmer Web Site - "City Farmer News" (www.cityfarmer.info)

On January 1, 2008, we created a new web site "City Farmer News" at (www.cityfarmer.info) where all our new stories are featured.

This site, "Urban Agriculture Notes" (www.cityfarmer.org), which has been running continuously since 1994 with its hundreds of pages of urban agriculture information, will remain online and will be updated when necessary with corrected emails, URL's, etc. It is still a gold mine of useful resources.
March 23, 2008


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Go to our new City Farmer Web Site - "City Farmer News" (www.cityfarmer.info)

Most Recent Pages and Links Added (by Date)


 

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Introduction to Organic Food Gardening - City Farmer's 2014 Classes in March
Learn how to grow your own vegetables in an urban environment. City Farmer's hands on organic food gardening course includes: site selection/design/soil preparation seed sourcing and starting; planting/harvesting/composting; organic gardening techniques/natural pest control; container gardening; waterwise gardening.


Click here for silk flowers from Silk Flowers Warehouse.
City Farmer's Step-By-Step Photo Guide to Composting in a Backyard Bin
"Alternate layers of green and brown materials; keep the layers 2" - 4" deep. Common green (nitrogen) materials are grass, food scraps (uncooked fruit and vegetables, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags and egg shells) (wet), garden trimmings. Common brown (carbon) materials are, fall leaves, straw and newspaper strips (dry). Chop up larger materials for faster decomposition." Posted March 31, 2005


City Farmer's Step-By-Step Photo Guide to Worm Composting
"Harvesting: You can dump the entire contents of the bin onto a large plastic sheet and separate the worms manually. Most children love to help with this process and you can turn it into a fun lesson about worms for them. Watch out for the tiny lemon-shaped worm cocoons which contain between two and twenty baby worms! By separating the worms from the compost, you save more worms for your next bin." Posted March 21, 2005

Metro Vancouver Composting Brochures
Download "How To" brochures in PDF format here: Here's the Dirt - Backyard Composting; Here's the Dirt - Worm Composting; Compost Bin Construction Plan (Single Bin System) and (Three Bin System); Natural Yard Care; Waterwise Gardening. Revised January 9, 2009

How to Worm Compost: Comix Style - How to Backyard Compost: Comix Style
City Farmer has produced two, new, teaching flyers in comic-book format. These are based on images from our How-To Slide Shows.
Posted January 8, 2008


One Year of Time-Lapse Photos of the City Farmer Demonstration Garden
Graham Clark chose one web cam photo from every day over the past year, November 2006 - October 2007, and put 360 of them in this time-lapse movie. You'll see the garden slowly come to life and also see some of our visitors.

Sharing Backyards in Greater Vancouver
Grow your own veggies, herbs, flowers, and soft fruit. If you have a garden and want to share it with someone, or if you are looking for a space to garden, this page is for you.
Updated March 5, 2008

Use quick links for Vancouver residents:

European Chafer - A New Turf Pest - Now in Greater Vancouver * Grow Natural * City Farmer's Waterwise Garden * Community Gardens in Greater Vancouver and Victoria * Instructions for Backyard Composting * Home Composting* Worm Composting * Grasscycling and Natural Lawn Care * Waterwise Gardening and the City Rain Barrel Program

* Organic Landscapers/Gardeners in Greater Vancouver * Other Rain Barrels and Water Wisdom From Around the World * How to Set Out Your Yard Trimmings * Worm Suppliers * Pet Waste Composting * Farm/Garden Land For Rent in Greater Vancouver and Elsewhere * Wholesale and Retail Native Plant Nurseries in BC * Drought Tolerant Plant List for Vancouver City Boulevards * Fruit Tree Projects


Composting's New Appeal
"Vancouver is a perfect climate for a worm bin," Levenston explained, speaking of a bin filled with about 500 worms working to break down kitchen scraps on an apartment balcony. "You set up this bin with a bedding of newspaper and other materials and the worms will process the food waste and within three to four months you will have a finished compost," he said." Posted August 24, 2007


City Farmer Was Born At The Vancouver Community Conservation Centre in 1978
During a six month federal energy conservation project, City Farmer was created. Read about the group's formative months in a report written by the project's leader. "The first issue of City Farmer came out at the end of July (1978) and the second at the end of August. Both received a very positive response. The paper attempts to interest the public by showing them examples of successful Vancouver city farmers. It also reports on political issues that affect the city farmers (there has been a great deal of controversy lately about a particular woman in Vancouver who raises chickens in defiance of city by-laws), and products and information that are of use to them." Posted August 13, 2007

City Farmer's Pig-tailed Gardening Dynamo Teaches Kids About Bugs
Keating, an enviro-science grad, who works at the City Farmer compost demo garden, and runs her own biological control consulting company, teaches kids about the important jobs bugs have; why we have them; and if they are good or bad bugs. Her high-energy bug classes, which typically run from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, include interactive games, glossy flash cards, the always-popular bug song ("two antenna and six legs and don't forget the wings") and, of course, lots of live bugs!" Updated August 20, 2007


Nature's Way of Recycling
Sharon Slack (of City Farmer) is not squeamish about worms. She encourages people to get their hands dirty and slimy, all for a good cause. "These little guys do a very good job for us," she says. "They're called red wigglers. They're not the same as the big worms you see in the garden." Posted June 6, 2007

Using Compost to Make a Container Garden: Step-by-Step Slideshow
"Balconies, Rooftops and Decks. City Farmer Head Gardener, Sharon Slack, shares her recipe for starting a container garden." Posted July 17, 2006

Fly From Space to Community Gardens in BC Using Google Earth
City Farmer created 'place-markers' in Google Earth, which allow you to fly from the sky to different garden sites; that is virtually. You can visit individually chosen sites or you can push the 'play' button (an arrow under the Places window) to automatically fly to all the gardens. See Victoria's Capital City gardens for instance and then fly back to UBC's Acadia gardens. Simply click on our link to download a tiny 'kmz' file (unzip the .zip file first) and then open the file in your Google Earth program. Updated September 27, 2006

BC Community Gardens Up Close - Aerial Photos
We've created a slideshow of aerial photos of community gardens in British Columbia; most of these are higher resolution images than can be found on Google Earth. See the Fraser Street Garden in Vancouver, or visit us in the Compost Demonstration Garden next to our neighbours, the Maple Street Community Garden. We've also included photos of some of the gardens at ground level for those who don't like heights. Posted September 27, 2006

Pristine Outhouse a Compost Outpost
Features City Farmer's Toilet - "There's a lock on the outhouse door, so the toilet is used only by staff and garden visitors willing to abide by the rules: 'Please place toilet paper in toilet after use but do not add other hygiene products; Please sprinkle a cup of shavings from the green container on solid waste after use; Please mark on the calendar an X for liquid waste or an O for solid waste after using the toilet.' " Posted September 4, 2006



Meet City Farmer Staff at the Garden or call our Compost Hotline
"City Farmer staff both garden and teach at our Demonstration Garden all year long. They give workshops, attend 'outreach' events in the community, speak to the media, develop educational material for our web site, answer the Compost Hotline, look for new varieties of plants and search out the 'greenest' gardening techniques. Here's a brief summary of their expertise." Posted August 10, 2006

City Farmer's Pesticide Reduction Resources
"On this page you will find a growing list of resources to help you replace pesticides with natural pest control techniques. BC biological suppliers, organic fertilizers for your lawn and garden, organic landscapers in Vancouver and a look at insects we see at our garden and how we respond are published here." Posted April 9, 2006



See City Farmer's Fabulous Coldframe
Graham Clark built this attractive and useful mini-greenhouse for us. The used skylights (double glazed so you get two for one) cost us only $25 at a used 'stuff' store. Updated December 4, 2005

Garden Warriors of 'Yesteryear' - Photos Slideshow
We are building on the ideas and work of past generations. These photos are from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington and one from the Archives of Canada, Ottawa. Posted November 15, 2005

School Children Gardening - Photos 1914-1918: Slideshow
These wonderful photos are in the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington. They remind us that earlier generations were as excited as we are today about the potential of teaching kids about food gardening. Posted November 7, 2005

City Farmer's Bugshops - The "5Ps" : Slideshow
"Pollinators, Predators, Processors, Pests, Parasitoids. Photos © by Maria Keating" Posted October 4, 2005

Using Compost to Start a Food Garden: Step-by-Step Slideshow
"Compost is an essential ingredient for making fertile soil. We've used it for 25 years at our Demonstration Garden. Sharon digs over-wintered leaf mulch and compost into the beds. She seeds some plants indoors in flats. First she adds sifted compost." Posted July 25, 2005

Design for Food: Landscape architects find roles in city farms.
Short excerpt from the June issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine "There are many different ideas about what constitutes an urban farm. Michael Levenston, executive director of City Farmer, one of the oldest North American organizations devoted to urban food production, says: "An urban farm can be a pot of herbs grown on a balcony or a large market garden. If it involves something you eat, and you're growing it in the city, I'd call it an urban farm." Updated August 18, 2005

Insect Life at 2150 Maple Street
"At City Farmer, we show visitors both beneficial and pest bugs as part of our "natural yard care" tour of the garden. By introducing people to the fascinating life of a wide variety of insects, we believe people will come to appreciate rather than fear them. Less than 1 percent of garden insects actually damage plants." Posted May 15, 2005

Wise Water Use at our Demonstration Garden: Step-By-Step
Reducing water use in the garden and managing stormwater runoff are priorities at the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden. Posted May 8, 2005

Natural Gardening Posters in Chinese
We've translated five large gardening posters, featured at our Demonstration Garden, into Chinese: backyard composting, worm composting, waterwise gardening, natural lawn care and grasscycling. Posted April 29, 2005

City Farmer's Step-By-Step Photo Guide to Natural Lawn Care
"No pesticides. No wasted water. No air pollution. No trucking grass clippings to the landfill." " Posted April 20, 2005

City Farmer's Isabelle Speaks from the Garden
(Needs Real Player on your computer, 46 second clip.) Isabelle tells CBC why she likes to work at our Demonstration Garden." Posted April 13, 2005

A Bug Lady's Observations at Vancouver's Compost Demonstration Garden
"Today I saw mothflies in the composter. They are neither moths nor flies, but are members of the the same order as aphids. In the compost they are not considered pests, but their numbers can skyrocket. When that happens the best thing to do when opening the lid is to keep your mouth closed. To reduce the numbers, cover the top layer of the compost with baking soda and a newspaper." Updated September 28, 2005

Urban Sustainability Tours at City Farmer's Garden
"City Farmer's garden has been open continuously since 1982 at 2150 Maple Street in Vancouver. We demonstrate urban agriculture and various "green" technologies, all of which can be practiced by residents in the city. Urban Agriculture, Backyard Composters, Worm Bins, Water-wise Garden, Natural Lawn Care, Rain Barrels, Compost Toilet, Country Lane, Cob Shed, Garden Gates and Animals in the Garden." Posted September 16, 2001

City Farmer's Cob Shed - It has a Living Green Roof
Sculptor, George Rammell, donates Haida artist Bill Reid's clay to our cob project. "The clay I provided belonged to Haida artist Bill Reid. It provided the form for many of Bill's sculpture projects including the Whale at the aquarium, and the huge bronze Spirit Canoe at the airport." Updated October 9, 2003

City Farmer's Green Roof on the Cob Shed
Photos of the roof planted, our goat, and Arctic roof gardens from long ago. Posted October 9, 2003

City Farmer's Country Lane
Vancouver City Council passed a report to fund three demonstration "Country Lanes". These lanes have permeable surfaces that allow stormwater to flow into the earth rather than drain into the sewers. Updated October 9, 2003

City Farmer's Waterwise Garden
"Waterwise gardening is not synonymous with xeriscaping. Waterwise gardening is a more appropriate explanation for gardening in mesic climates like Vancouver and incorporates the collection and storage of rainwater, soil health, maintenance techniques and the choice of appropriate plant species to create healthy, beautiful gardens. " Posted February 14 2004


City Farmer TV - 2007 - 2008
Video Blogging! These short clips will bring you up close and personal with the kind of work we do at the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden. See how we trap rats in a compost bin and plant our cold frame with over-wintering salad greens. Our videoblog will put you in touch with what happens at our garden. We talk to our gardeners, to visitors and also visit other urban agriculture projects in Vancouver. You can watch these short films on your computer.
City Farmer TV - 2006


City Farmer TV can also be seen on YouTube


LA Times Story: Vancouver Envisions Radicchio on its Rooftops
"The Canadian city sees food-producing gardens in urban residential developments as the wave of the future. ... The Southeast False Creek conditions require shared garden plots for 30% of the neighborhood's residential units that lack access to balconies or patios of at least 100 square feet. False Creek buildings also will have a maximum of 12 stories to increase green space and sun exposure. Plans call for fruit trees and raised beds on rooftops, courtyards lined with blueberry bushes, and balcony trellises to support fruit-bearing vines." Updated August 26, 2007

Farming In The City 2
(Guests: Steve Pedersen - Coordinator, Public Health Association of BC. Michael Levenston - Executive Director, City Farmer. Peter Mcallister - Woodlot Director / Mushroom Grower, Lofstedt Farm.) "This broadcast marks the second of an ongoing series that will explore urban agriculture in British Columbia, Canada, and around the world. Featured on the broadcast will be the launch of an on-line community of gardeners with the hope that every lawn in British Columbia will contain a food producing garden. We will learn of an innovative project that links up underutilized backyard garden space with those willing to urban farm it. When we think of urban agriculture, rarely do we think of growing mushrooms! The steps on how to go about becoming an urban mushroom grower will be shared on this broadcast."
Posted May 13, 2007



In Memoriam: Arthur Wesley "Wes" Barrett, 1937 - 2007. Wes was Head Gardener at City Farmer for over ten years. He was loved by everyone and will be sorely missed by all of us who worked with him at the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden.

On his retirement from City Farmer in 2000, this song was written about him.





From the Desk of Jac Smit - "Urban Agriculture"
Jac Smit will be contributing his thoughts here from time to time. "Jac has contributed to plans for agriculture in cities as diverse as: Abidjan, Asmera, Bogota, Dar es Salaam, Karachi, Philadelphia, Vancouver and Washington DC. Some of his most satisfying urban agriculture effort was in refugee camps in India, Bangladesh and the Ivory Coast."


Urban Agriculture Magazine from the RUAF
18 wonderful issues have come out so far, and they all can be read on the internet. Some issues are available in Espanol, Franais, Arabic, Chinese, Portugus, and Turkish. "The Urban Agriculture Magazine is an initiative under the RUAF Programme. It functions as a platform for exchange and discussion of grounded information on urban agriculture: research results, project experiences, and critical analyses of conventional and innovative policies on urban agriculture." UA Magazine no. 14 - Urban Aquatic Production; UA Magazine no. 15 - Multiple Functions of Urban Agriculture; no. 16 - Formulating Effective Policies on Urban Agriculture; no. 17 - Strengthening Urban Producers' Organisations; no. 18 - Building Communities through Urban Agriculture Posted August 21, 2007


Go to our new City Farmer Web Site - "City Farmer News" (www.cityfarmer.info)

Food Urbanism: Urban Agriculture, Food Security, Local and Sustainable Food Systems, Grow-Your-Own, Polyculture, Urban Food ...
"When I was in Vancouver a few months ago for the Bridging Borders Toward Food Security conference, I visited a number of Urban Agriculture projects, the most significant of which was City Farmer. City Farmer has been focusing on Urban Agriculture for almost 30 years and their web site is, for many people, the main portal into the diverse world of growing food in a city." Posted January 18, 2007

All-You-Can-Grow Buffet
Broken Pencil #33 The Food Issue, October 2006. An excerpt from the article on this web link; 800 more words in the hard copy issue." 'Food is essential for us, so it only makes sense we should know where it comes from,' Levenston says matter-of-factly. But where to start? He recommends growing sprigs of parsley and handfuls of oregano at first, something small that can be put in a pot on a balcony. Progressing further means securing a swath of land to grow vegetables, fruits and even grains if the space allows." Updated October 19, 2006

44 Urban Agriculture Photos
Finding new photos that illustrate city farming is an exciting occasion. You'll find something to surprise you in this collection. "Queen Elizabeth II in lively discussion with gardening enthusiasts on their garden allotment." and "With their garden implements held on their shoulders these blind children form a 'V' for victory gardening." Posted July 27, 2006

National Post article: Worms dine just outside my kitchen
City of Vancouver - City Farmer Program. "I recalled my wife's expression from earlier that day, and also her parting words. But it was too late to bail. The instructor had already dumped a bucket of worms onto a composter lid. From this pile of damp earth emerged a swarming mosh. Suddenly, it was our turn to handle worms. We hived off into groups and got to work. My team prepped its black plastic compost box, filling it halfway with a supply of straw and shredded newspaper. Using a watering can, we more or less soaked the bedding." Posted July 23, 2006


Agricultural innovation responds to market forces just like the stock market, and all of the others in between. Issues like water, nitrogen, phosphorous, synthetic fertilizer, local foods,aquaculture, pests, and the move toward organics all need to be addressed in order to gain attention from potential ag investors. There certainly exists plenty of room for agricultural improvements, which also yields the underlying potential for agricultural innovation to transform into the next hot investment sector. Take a quick peak at what currently has Silicon Valley investors and bankers buzzing.
IDRC reports...Vancouver's Urban Agriculture Resource Centre
"A group of five writers, supported by IDRC through its Focus City Research Initiative, toured Vancouver's City Farmer, a demonstration site and resource centre for urban agriculture (UA). In addition to its public education programs, City Farmer offers a Web site that has become a information clearinghouse for UA information around the world. During WUF, City Farmer provided material and staff to demonstrate some of the innovative programs the City of Vancouver funds." Posted July 8, 2006

Soild Waste Branch Vancouver BC - Experience over 15 Years
"As sophisticated, beautiful and livable Vancouver is, there exists an element of poverty and pollution in the raw underbelly of our City that demands leadership, innovative thinking, and aggressive strategic policy and planning, combined with a healthy dose of compassion on the part of our civic leaders. " Posted June 27, 2006

Compost Chef Shares Recipe for Composting Success - at World Urban Forum
"It's like a cake," she said, "you layer it - green, brown, green, brown." The green Costa is referring to are moist materials, like kitchen scraps that are high in nitrogen. Brown materials, like leaves, are drier and high in carbon. Costa is with City Farmer, a long-time IDRC partner." Posted July 8, 2006

Lure of the Urban Veggie Garden: Digging for love, money, fame and sex appeal.
"The various efforts in Vancouver are what make the city feature prominently on the international urban gardening stage, says Michael Levenston. "We're it: Vancouver, Canada," he argues. Levenston is the seasoned guru behind the local fixture City Farmer, and he's witnessed his life-long obsession go from the fringe to the mainstream since he started out in 1978." Posted May 29, 2006

Grow your own, Big City
"People like Levenston believe there is an enormous and untapped potential to turn concrete jungles into abundant food producers. According to a mapping project undertaken by City Farmer, one third of a typical residential block in Vancouver is landscaped, and could be growing crops." Updated June 6, 2006

Urban Agriculture in Vancouver: Slideshow by City Farmer
"Vancouver is recognized as one of North America's most liveable cities. It is no coincidence that 25% of British Columbia's food is produced within an hour of downtown Vancouver and more than 40% of Vancouverites grow food in yards, balconies, and community gardens. The city is home to 1000 community garden plots at 22 active sites." Posted June 6, 2006



   
Vancouver's New Pesticide Reduction Bylaw - January 1, 2006

"As of January 1, 2006, the use of outdoor pesticides on lawns and in gardens will be regulated by section 5.17 of the Health By-Law No. 6580. Application of pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, will be restricted. Certain conditions will need to be met before pesticides will be permitted provided they are listed in Schedule A to the by-law."

You can read about the new by-law on the Grow Natural web site:
Pesticide Use Restriction By-law for 2006


The Good, the Bad and the Bugly
"Keating says many people are afraid of ground beetles because they're quite large, but she explains they serve a very important function in biological control by eating the eggs of snails, slugs, cutworms and grubs. She blames science fiction movies about giant bugs for promoting people's fear of them. 'You have to realize they're not 10 feet tall and they're not coming to get us.'" Posted April 27, 2006

Parks board says: bugs not drugs
"The ladybugs were at the City Farmer garden with other environmentally friendly methods to illustrate a new city bylaw banning the application of pesticides. Dessureault said pests and weeds can be prevented without using harmful chemicals. She said the parks board, city and Vancouver Coastal Health are encouraging residents to 'get their yards off drugs.'" April 9, 2006

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City Farmer's Step-By-Step Photo Guide to Making a Dog Waste Composter
This waste biodegrades and flows into the subsoil. It is not used as compost in garden beds. "Collect the dog doo and drop it into the hole. Sprinkle a packet of septic tank starter on top of the dog doo and add a litre or so of water. Cover the hole with the lid. Within 48 hours, the septic tank starter, which is non-caustic, and promotes natural bacterial growth will have begun its work and you can add more dog doo. You can then begin to add it daily." updated August 17, 2005

Tours of Urban Agriculture Sites in Vancouver, BC
Visitors coming to Vancouver have a wealth of interesting urban agriculture sites to visit. Perhaps the most important sites, from City Farmer's perspective, are people's home gardens. Back lanes are useful for studying urban agriculture. They display the private back yards of homes, making it is easy to see what gardeners are growing.
Posted January 24, 2005

25 Years of City Farming, 1978-2003 - City Farmer's Story
In 1978, a group of young environmentalists working at the Vancouver Energy Conservation Center stumbled across a book called The City People's Book of Raising Food by William and Helga Olkowski. It described in everyday language how the authors grew all their own food right in the middle of the city of Berkeley. This inspiring book led us on an exploration of urban food production, which continues today, twenty-five years later.
Posted January 25, 2005



Vancouver's Worm Program Written-up in Der Spiegel Magazine
"Der Spiegel magazine published a story about Vancouver's worm composting program in their well-read magazine on page 182 of issue No. 39, dated September 20, 2004. Their circulation is around 1.1 million and the magazine is distributed in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, as well as all over the world at foreign language newsstands." Posted September 26, 2004

Worm Bins Turn Kitchen Scraps Into Compost
National Geographic's web site features a story on Vancouver's wormbin distribution program. Their on-line site publishes roughly 60 stories a month, and has on average 1.3 million readers a month. This is wonderful coverage and shows the world our City's commitment to a healthier environment. Posted September 14, 2004

Virtual Tour of City Farmer's Demonstration Garden
This virtual tour was created by Graham Clark in April 2004. You will need QuickTime and the On2 codec installed to view the tour. This software is free and can be downloaded once you click on the link. If your QuickTime software and browser won't play the tour, go to this site and download the On2 QuickTime plugin. On2 Plugin Updated September 13, 2005

Cob Oven Cooking Event at City Farmer
Played on CBC radio on August 29, 2004 ... the City Farmer show, recorded on location at the City Farmer garden in Vancouver. Guests include James Barber, Eve Johnson and Assefa Kebede cooking in the cob oven..." Posted September 5, 2004

Green Roof on our Cob Garden Shed (see Cob Oven and Cob Slideshows 1 and 2 as well)

44% of Vancouver Households Grow Food says City Farmer

40% of Toronto Households Grow Food


News Flash ... March 1, 2005 ... "Angola" and "Suriname" are the 199th and 200th countries to visit our web site since we began tracking visitors! (See City Farmer's country count.) Almost 5 million hits were recorded on our site during the year 2004!



Urban Agriculture
Books For Sale


How to find information on our site. Our web site includes both local (Vancouver) City Farmer stories and urban agriculture information from around the globe.


1. Use the search engine:

Google
Web www.cityfarmer.org

The "Recent Pages" link just below is updated almost daily. That's where you'll find all the latest stories. Don't miss it!

2. See most recently added pages:

Most Recent Pages and Links Added (by Date)


3. Use the topic links:

Africa * Asia * Europe * Latin America * Middle-East * North America * South-East Asia/Australia * South Asia


Allotments/Community Gardens * Books/Media * Children * City Farmer * Entrepreneurs * Growing Food * Health/Nutrition * Hydroponics * Insects * Livestock - Fish * Policy/Planning * Rooftops/Containers * Solid Waste/Composting * Urban Forestry * Water






4. Use quick links for Vancouver residents:

European Chafer - A New Turf Pest - Now in Greater Vancouver * Grow Natural * City Farmer's Waterwise Garden * Community Gardens in Greater Vancouver and Victoria * Instructions for Backyard Composting * Home Composting* Worm Composting * Grasscycling and Natural Lawn Care * Waterwise Gardening and the City Rain Barrel Program

* Organic Landscapers/Gardeners in Greater Vancouver * Other Rain Barrels and Water Wisdom From Around the World * How to Set Out Your Yard Trimmings * Worm Suppliers * Pet Waste Composting * Farm/Garden Land For Rent in Greater Vancouver and Elsewhere * Wholesale and Retail Native Plant Nurseries in BC * Drought Tolerant Plant List for Vancouver City Boulevards * Fruit Tree Projects


5. Some popular pages on this site:

The "Recent Pages" link just below is updated almost daily. That's where you'll find all the latest stories. Don't miss it!

Most Recent Pages and Links Added (by Date) * Jobs in Urban Agriculture * Bulletins/Conferences * UA References


Welcome to City Farmer's home on the World Wide Web. After 28 years digging in the fields of Urban Agriculture, we want to share with you what we have learned. The Web makes it possible for us to reach a much larger audience than we were reaching before the arrival of on-line publications.

Our non-profit society promotes urban food production and environmental conservation from a small office in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia and from our demonstration food garden in nearby Kitsilano, a residential neighbourhood.

Map showing the location of our garden at 2150 Maple Street.

Virtual Tour of City Farmer's Demonstration Garden
This new virtual tour was created by Graham Clark in April 2004. You will need QuickTime and the On2 codec installed to view the tour. This software is free and can be downloaded once you click on the link. Posted May 2, 2004

Urban Agriculture is a new and growing field that is not completely defined yet even by those closest to it. It concerns itself with all manner of subjects from rooftop gardens, to composting toilets, to air pollution and community development. It encompasses mental and physical health, entertainment, building codes, rats, fruit trees, herbs, recipes and much more.

Our Office wants you to know about some of the issues we deal with from day to day. There are very few offices in the world that have our experience serving city farmers all year round or have done so for as many years as we have.

These pages will grow as we select the latest breaking information that comes to us, as we review our large library of resources for useful documents to put on-line, and as we hook you up with other Urban Agriculture Web sites that most certainly will emerge.

Urban Agriculture Notes is written for those who want to start up their own "Office of Urban Agriculture", for those who have already done so, and for gardeners who are curious about what we refer to as political horticulture.


"The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm;
his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command."
Sam Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien


The "Recent Pages" link just below is updated almost daily. That's where you'll find all the latest stories. Don't miss it!

Most Recent Pages and Links Added (by Date)


 

City Farmer's Urban Agriculture Survey
Please help us learn more about your involvement in city farming by filling out this short survey form. Thank you!
Posted March 25, 2000

City Farmer's Survey Results No. 2 - Second 100
See our summary. "14 people said they sold some food at farmer's markets, retail and wholesale, a coop, restaurants and caterers, traded food for services or other food, reinvested income back to an organization, sold eggs at work and to neighbours and friends."
Posted December 27, 2001

City Farmer's Survey Results No. 1 - First 100
See our summary. "People from 16 countries submitted surveys - Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, England, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Spain and the USA. The vast majority were from the USA (56%) and Canada (26%)."
Posted May 20, 2000

Participating in Urban Gardening, or "City Farming" - Results of an Online Survey conducted by City Farmer
This study is based on a survey conducted by one of the organizations working to encourage participation in urban gardening and urban greening activities in general - City Farmer, based in Vancouver, B.C. City Farmer conducted an online survey over the course of 4 years. The survey asked respondents about their interests and experiences with gardening in urban areas ("city farming") The survey garnered 500 responses at the time of writing. Each respondent was asked 19 different questions about their experiences with gardening."
Updated August 5, 2007

Resource Centre on Urban Agriculture and Forestry (RUAF) Stories: City Farmer is honoured to be a partner in this five year project.

"During recent decades, Urban Forestry has been developed as integrative and interdisciplinary approach encompassing the planning, establishing and management of those urban green areas in which trees are the main element, such as woodlands, parks, gardens, cemeteries, derelict land and former industrial sites, and roadside and square plantations." Posted March 3, 2004


January 31, 2004 Application Deadline for the AGROPOLIS Awards
"AGROPOLIS International Graduate Research Awards in Urban Agriculture - application forms can be obtained from the Cities Feeding People website in English, French, and Spanish and also in Arabic (not yet posted)". Posted November 11, 2003

Urban Agriculture and Food Security (PDF)
and Urban Agriculture Magazine for the World Summit on Sustainable Development(PDF)
"Two special issues of the UA-Magazine have also been published. The first one, Urban Agriculture and Food Security, was distributed at the FAO World Summit on Food Security, held in June in Rome, Italy. The second, has been prepared for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2002. Both specials can be downloaded as PDF files." Posted October 6, 2002

RUAF: Resource Centre On Urban Agriculture And Forestry
"RUAF is a global information and communications programme implemented by seven regional institutes and coordinated by ETC-International, based in Leusden, The Netherlands. RUAF is a five-year programme that is funded by DGIS (the Netherlands)and IDRC (Canada)and initiated in October 1999. The general aim of RUAF is to facilitate the integration of urban agriculture into the policies and plans of city authorities and to enhance the active involvement of all local stakeholders."
Updated October 6, 2002



City Farmer Stories:

44% of Vancouver Households Grow Food says City Farmer
"This is the first time in Canadian history a question of this sort has been asked by a professional pollster and the result is significant," says Michael Levenston, Executive Director of the 25-year-old non-profit society based in Vancouver. "That figure represents more than three-quarters of a million people in Greater Vancouver who live in households growing vegetables, fruit, berries, nuts or herbs in their yard, balcony or community garden." Posted October 6, 2002

City Farmer Uses the Latest Aerial Photos To Find Out How Much Food is Grown in the City of Vancouver
"Looking down from the sky it's easy to see where city farmland lies. Roofs, driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, trees, lawns and gardens are all clearly visible. The photos on this page were taken of homes in South Vancouver between Fraser and Clarke Avenues. The excellent resolution of the shots (15cm = 1 pixel) allows us to close in from an airplane-view to an almost tree-top view of homes and gardens."
Updated October 31, 2001

Current Photos from the Demonstration Garden
"Wasup"? We get excited about new crops, visitors from other countries, creatures both pest and beneficial --- and because Mike has a new digital camera, this page exists.
Posted September 14, 2001

The Christmas Tree Shredding Ceremony
"Look, all I'll say is this. People want to know that their trees' lives haven't been sacrificed in vain; that they've served a purpose greater than a light rack. Over the years, we've recycled hundreds of thousands of Christmas trees and their remains are composted in our yard trimmings composting facility here at the Landfill. That product is then spread around Vancouver parks and sold to landscapers and residents as a rich organic fertilizer. If that isn't a higher purpose, I don't know what is."
Posted December 29, 2001

City Farmer's Grasscycling and Natural Lawn Care Project
"Once a week, a gentle pull of the lever starts the quiet machine - there's no gas or oil to mess with, no fumes to breathe in. A simple squeeze of the lever by the right front wheel adjusts the mower height and in minutes the lawn is cut, all the clippings are out of sight, blown as tiny pieces into the lawn where they will break down and nourish the grass."
Posted May 13, 2001

Roots of a Political Plot
"The growing international movement known as urban agriculture has its origin in a 2,500-square-foot Vancouver garden"
Posted May 26, 2001

Results In! - The Best Food Garden In Vancouver Contest
"Filled with, at different times, chicory, radicchio, basil, tomatoes, kiwis, figs, grapes, prunes, pears, and corn, Calogero's garden occupies two back yards and much of the front yard. It produces something different every week, says his daughter Lucy: "[My father] has been growing vegetables since he moved from Italy over 30 years ago. My mother makes enough tomato sauce for the family year-round, and sends some to my sister in Victoria."
Updated September 22, 2000

City Farmer's Demonstration Garden: Detailed Plan Showing Plants and Features
Collin Varner has drawn a beautiful plan of our garden showing exactly where everything is located. Posted August 28, 2000

Photo Tour of City Farmer's Demonstration Garden
See it all! The vegis, the compost toilet, the worm corner, the office in a greenhouse, and much more. Posted November 3, 1999

Introduction to the Demonstration Garden
Many media events take place at our beautiful garden. Sesame Street shot a segment on worm composting. And the Mayor of Vancouver cut fresh artichokes before the cameras. Updated November 3, 1999

  

The Easiest Way
To Predict The Future
Is To Invent It

  





**More Urban Agriculture Stories Can Be Found Here**


City Farmer's Garden Gate
Metal artist, Davide Pan has created a distinctive front gate for City Farmer's Demonstration Garden. Posted June 28, 1999

City Farmer's History: The First Ten Years 1978-1988
Filing cabinets, desks and high shelves of books overflow with a paper record of our efforts from the past 21 years. We have chosen various documents from this archive and placed them on the following pages to give the reader a brief glimpse of our past. Posted June 6, 1999

Red Celery In the Sunshine - An Urban Eden: transforming hopeless backyard hardpan into a lush organic plot
First published in 1984 in Harrowsmith magazine, this article describes City Farmer's Demonstration Food Garden. "I thought for years that just compost and the occasional load of manure were enough, and I had perfectly adequate gardens, but now, I'm not satisfied with adequate. I want Brassicas that are four feet high and three feet wide." said first Head Gardener, Catherine Shapiro. Posted May 6, 1999

City Farmer Newspaper 1978 -1981
"25 cents was the street price for our 'rag'. If a copy sold in a corner store we'd get half that back from the proprietor as our share. More often, we'd never find our way back to that store, and if we did, we'd find our paper had turned yellow with age." Posted May 13, 1998

We Have a Compost Toilet!
"But how do we use it", the staff wanted to know? "There's no water in the bowl, no handle for flushing. What can we throw in it, how do we keep track of how much human waste goes in, and what words should we use to describe our waste?" Posted November 12, 1998

Composting Toilets
In Vancouver, British Columbia, a 30,000 sq. ft. office complex, utilizes composting toilets and urinals for human waste disposal. City Farmer has links to toilet manufacturers from around the world. Updated March 11, 1999

Urban Home Composting, City Farmer Style
If all our urban organic waste was turned back into crop nourishing humus, think how fertile the ground would become.

Dealing With a Rat in a Compost Bin
An individual who calls the Compost Hotline is usually quite shocked that he has a rat on his property.

City Farmer/City Of Vancouver Wormshop Program
"Half a pound of writhing red wiggler worms are included in each worm "kit". The bin will accommodate up to 1500, so participants are encouraged to make up a second bin for themselves or a friend (they make excellent wedding gifts, shower gifts and Christmas presents!)."

Worm Suppliers
The world's largest list of worm sellers. Updated January 4, 2002

More about the City's Distribution of Worm Bins!
Newsweek magazine, Feb. 12, 1996, reports "Entire cities are getting into the act. Vancouver sells worm bins, wrigglers included at half price." (Kitchen Help: Wrigglers Under the Sink, page 76)

Composting With Red Wiggler Worms
The great advantage of worm composting is that this can be done indoors and outdoors, thus allowing year round composting. It also provides apartment dwellers with a means of composting.

Jerry Seinfeld's Worm Bin
"What's The Deal With Worm Composting?"
Kramer's friend, a kooky zoology Professor at a New York museum, is leading a secret expedition into the sewers of New York to search for a new species of worm that will speed up the process of decomposition in the bin.

City Farmer Donates Garden Produce To Vancouver Hospice
"The visual appeal alone was enough to stimulate the resident's taste buds and heighten their interest in food. This is important, as often we have to work at tempting the appetites of our residents." Updated November 8, 1998

Mayor Opens Water-wise Garden
This unique water conservation garden was developed by the City of Vancouver, in cooperation with City Farmer. The project, funded by Environment Canada, demonstrates the principles of water-wise gardening. It is located on the street front and will be open to the public year-round. Updated August 22, 1998

Waterwise Gardening

Principal Wholesale and Retail Native Plant Nurseries on the BC South Coast and Islands (PDF format)

Vancouver Begins Disconnecting Downspouts
Disconnecting residential roof downspouts from the combined sewer system may be an important way to reduce water pollution caused by Combined Sewer Overflows.

Rain Barrels and Water Wisdom From Around the World
"Here in Bermuda all residential properties catch rainwater on the roof. Roofs are constructed of lapped limestone slate on a timber frame. The water collected drains down into a water tank which is located beneath the house."Updated October 5, 1998


The "Recent Pages" link just below is updated almost daily. That's where you'll find all the latest stories. Don't miss it!

*** Most Recent Pages and Links Added (by Date) ***


In 1979, almost 20 years ago, City Farmer's founding directors spoke at the 20th International Science Education Symposium about our vision of Urban Agriculture.
"Ideally we believe that simply by changing from suit to jeans, digging up a bit of lawn, and planting vegetable seeds, the city person will begin asking questions about his environment and about his urban behavior and thinking patterns."

  • "To most city people soil is simply mud or dirt, not a substance in which food is born.
  • "Rain, means 'no beach'. It is not seen as a drink for thirsty plants.
  • "Sunny days are 'tanning days', not givers of food energy.
  • "There are no such things as 'beneficial insects'. They're all big game for a can of 'Raid'.
  • "Big toothed dogs are nice animals to feed. Egg producing chickens are not.
  • "Left-over food, minutes after a delicious meal, becomes garbage to be trucked away out of sight rather than a valuable homemade soil conditioner."

More About City Farmer's Work - Update December, 1996
  • Our Compost Hotline has received 17,000 calls since 1992.
  • 3000 visitors a year come to our Demonstration Garden.
  • Since 1992, City Farmer has taught 431 children's wormshops for a total of 9771 "contacts".

  

Go to our new City Farmer Web Site - "City Farmer News" (www.cityfarmer.info)


The ideal project is one where people don't have meetings,
they have lunch.
The size of the team should be the size of the lunch table.
Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems


  



  

Readers in the following countries have accessed our web site since February 12, 1996. We will be looking at our web stats every day to see what new additions can be made to this list.

News Flash ... March 1, 2005 ... "Angola" and "Suriname" are the 199th and 200th countries to visit our web site since we began tracking visitors! (See City Farmer's country count.) Almost 5 million hits were recorded on our site during the year 2004!


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Recognition Of Our Site
We have received lots of awards and are noted in many places. Visit the trophy room.
  

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revised, Jan 1, 2014

E-mail us at: cityfarmer@gmail.com

Mailing Address:
City Farmer - Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture
Box 74567, Kitsilano RPO,
Vancouver, B.C. V6K 4P4 Canada
Office Phone: (604) 685-5832

Map showing the location of our garden at 2150 Maple Street.

Garden Location:
Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden
2150 Maple Street, Kitsilano, (6th and Maple)
Vancouver BC, V6J 3T3 Canada
Garden Phone: (604) 736-2250