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


Arable Acres Within City Limits

arable acres

by Michael Levenston
Copyright (C) City Farmer 1995

Originally published in
City Farmer Newspaper
August 1980, Vol.3, Number 1

Fun with figures, some might call it. It is fun and more. It's amazing to discover that the City of Vancouver has enough land available so that its inhabitants can grow all their own vegetables within city limits.

The area in back and front yards, on boulevards and on various vacant lots is all the land required. There are 6515 acres ready for planting which is, in intensive city farming terms, 283,793,400 square feet.

Golf courses, cemeteries and parks haven't been included in these calculations, nor has the land in the more spacious municipalities of Greater Vancouver such as Burnaby, Surrey and Richmond.

If man, woman and child power were applied to the task of growing family food gardens, how much food, hypothetically, could be grown?

Bernard Moore, a local garden expert, says that 2400 square feet of land (40' x 60') will provide a family of four with "more than enough fresh vegetables plus sufficient to can or freeze for the winter."

Alan Littler, a senior Ministry of Agriculture horticulturist says that 1000 square feet will feed the same family.

The U.S. National Garden Bureau believes that the family of four can be fed from only 600 square feet.

But even Moore's seemingly conservative estimates could produce enough vegetables on Vancouver's available 6515 acres to feed all 427,000 inhabitants of the City with some to spare.

If the National Garden Bureau figures are used, it would seem that Vancouver's city farmers could feed the whole Lower Mainland.

And the worth of this food is truly unbelievable at well over $100,000,000 retail.


Land To Be Used For Food Production
In The City Of Vancouver

(Source for calculations, Land Use in the City of Vancouver
March 1976, by Len Tennant, Research Planner)
Back and front yards:
Single family dwellings 50% of 9328 acres4664
Conversions (modified single family dwellings) 50% of 765 acres383
Purpose designed duplexes 50% of 112 acres56
Vacant Land: 1400
Boulevards of streets and lanes: 10% of 7400 acres 740
Open spaces in rail yards and rights of way: 10% of 584 acres 58
Open spaces in industrial areas and utilities: 5% of 1723 acres 86
Minus land loss due to shading: 10% of 7387 acres739
Minus land used for paths in beds: 2% of 6648 acres 133
Total Land Available
For Food Production
In The City Of Vancouver
(or 283,793,400 sq.ft.)

Calculations do not include land in or around:Acres
parks and golf courses 3230
cemeteries 102
schools 662
churches 112
hospitals 192

Total acreage of the City of Vancouver 28,000 acres
Population of the City of Vancouver 427,000 people

Vegetable Production Calculations

1. Bernard Moore is a well known B.C. garden expert who has had 45 years experience as a professional horticulturist. He is author of a newly published book titled Vegetable Gardening.

2. Alan Littler is the senior supervising horticulturist for the British Columbia Department of Agriculture in Victoria. He has completed a study on the productivity of allotment garden plots in Victoria.

3. The U.S. National Garden Bureau is a non-profit educational service of the North American vegetable and flower seed industry. It supplies food-garden plans to home gardeners.

Moore Littler National G.B.
Area in square feet needed for a family of four to provide fresh vegetables and sufficient to can or freeze for the winter. 2400 sq.ft. 1000 sq.ft. 600 sq.ft.
Area needed for one person. 600 sq.ft. 250 sq. ft.150 sq.ft.
Number of people who could be fed from available land in the City of Vancouver. 472,989 1,135,174 1,891,956

Dollar Worth Of Produce:

Moore Littler National G.B.
On a family plot - $467 (retail prices) gotten from 1000 sq.ft. from a low of $300 to as much as $600 (retail prices) gotten from 600 sq.ft.
Per square foot - $.47/sq.ft. from $.50 to $1.00/sq.ft.
On available land in the City of Vancouver - $132,815,350 from $141,896,700 to $283,793,400


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Revised October 17, 1996

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture