Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


City Farmer's History
The First Ten Years

Suite #801 - 318 Homer Street has been our downtown home since 1978. From the eighth floor office of the turn-of-the-century Mercantile Building, we can watch ships come and go in Vancouver's busy harbour, listen to seagulls squawking on nearby roofs, and meditate upon the white-capped mountains that surround our beautiful city.

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. They give the reader a brief glimpse of our past.

"We tried to use urban gardening as an entry vehicle for discussing the whole range of energy conservation (ie. Lawnmowers as unnecessary gadgets; labour intensive activity linked to bicycles etc.)"

"John Jeavons spoke to the public at VanDusen Gardens and gave a full day workshop at the G.V.R.D. His C.B.C radio interview played nationally and requests for his book came from as far away as New Brunswick."

"Shirley Buswell, who is working on her second masters degree from UBC, recently won the $1,000 national Epstein Award for her novel Garden of Exiles. Between academic sessions at UBC, Ms. Buswell works as a journalist for City Farmer, a magazine devoted to backyard gardeners in Vancouver."

"The course was held on six consecutive Saturday mornings. Different speakers (all expert in their fields) were engaged for each class. Agriculture Canada and the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Food were most generous, and supplied all the publications which City Farmer requested."

Eighteen lectures about Urban Agriculture were held at 2150 Maple Street. These included Winter Gardening, Air Pollution & Food Gardens, Solar Greenhouses, Urban Fruit Production, and Rabbit Raising.

In January, February and March, Debbi D'Aigle, a U.B.C. Agriculture graduate, taught food garden classes at the Demo Garden. Dan Penner built stone walkways, compost bins, a cold frame, and dug new beds. Catherine Shapiro, Head Gardener since we began the garden, coordinated volunteers.

Dr. Yuwa Wong, economist, has prepared City Farmer's first paper on "Urban Agriculture from a Global Perspective". He will continue to work on urban agriculture policy and research.

In the spring of 1985 City Farmer secured a two-year lease from the Parks Board for 3.6 acres of vacant, East End land on Prior Street. Leslie Scrimshaw, a paid employee of City Farmer from February 4, 1985 to February 27, 1986 organized the community and began the process of designing the garden and improving the soil.

For six months in 1986 City Farmer employed three fabulous garden teachers at Lord Roberts School to instruct 250 elementary school children about food gardening. Bev Weber began the garden in May and June, Cindy Warren took the project through the summer, and Joanne May completed the fall harvesting with the help of many enthusiastic children.

We will soon complete our latest project, a horticulture therapy garden - at the Demonstration site at 6th and Maple. Designed by landscape architect Mary Jane McKay, carpenter Greg Birdsel, occupational therapist Gay Kuchta, Arthritis Society member Barbara Raynor and head gardener Paula Ford, we are very excited about this new effort.


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Revised Saturday, June 5, 1999

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture