Posts Tagged ‘urban agriculture’

Farmers on 57th is accepting applications for its 2012 Urban Farming Apprenticeship! This full season learning experience will immerse apprentices into the world of ecological farming. It is a practical, hands-on experience in which apprentices exchange their labour and commitment for instruction, supervision and mutual commitment.

The position is part-time (16 hrs/week) from February-October, and Fo57th is seeking 3-4 apprentices in total. Besides a wealth of education, apprentices will receive a weekly box of seasonal veggies.

Application deadline: February 1st, 2012

Please submit your application to Tess and Karen at farmerson57th@gmail.com with answers to the following questions:

  • What’s your motivation for wanting to apprentice with Farmers on 57th?
  • How does this apprenticeship fit into your future plans?
  • What is your gardening and/or food growing background?
  • Are you able to commit for the entire growing season? Do you foresee any obstacles to fulfilling this commitment?
  • What other relevant skills do you have?



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Pickling Cukes!

The Farm is a-buzz with visions of pickles, and the time is now for making them.  Pickling cukes are crawling out of their beds and into the rows, lending their spiny green skins to harvesting hands, revealing cool cucumbery flesh…  but more so they are ready for pickling!

Did you know? Pickles are loaded with Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Potassium, and are a good source of dietary fiber (the skins!).  The combination of hydrating flesh with fibery skins containing silica, K , Magnesium and other minerals make for an awesome, and nutritious snack.

Mmm, Mmm.  Pickles, gherkins, baby dills.  In a sandwich, on a stick, or by the jar full!  These days a majority of pickles are store bought and available in countless vinegar-based varieties.  You may have tried your hand at preserving your own or had a generous friend pass on a home-canned jar.  Ever had a sour or brined pickle?  I remember a kosher deli in the neighbourhood I grew up in, I’d order a bowl of soup, and most of all enjoy the never ending bowl of  brined pickles and beets on the counter – YUM!  Fermented pickles are easy to make and offer the additional benefits of fermented foods – contributing to a healthy digestive system for starters.

This week the farm has two opportunities for you to engage with Pickling Cukes!  Come on over to the Saturday market for pickling cukes, fresh garlic and herbs, in addition to the many other farm fresh offerings.  Extra special this week is a free Fermentation Demonstration at the Saturday market!  Explore further with the popular Food Preservation by Fermentation workshop on the evening of August 17th.  Join Chef Andrea Potter as she guides participants to create cucumber pickles, sauerkraut, and demonstrate kimchi making (check out the previous blog post about  Growing Seasons workshops or http://fermentaugust2011.eventbrite.com/ to register).

To avoid finding yourself in a pickle, come learn how to make your own – see you at the farm!

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Just a reminder that this Friday, October 29th is the closing date for applications for the 2011 Sowing Seeds for the Future Practicum program, a hands-on, season-long practicum in sustainable agriculture at the UBC Farm. Visit the Sowing Seeds page for full program and application details.

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Want to diversify your garden? Join the Vancouver Plant and Seed Exchange Network, an initiative of the Environmental Youth Alliance. Trade seeds, trade plants, and connect with local gardeners.

If you’re interested in seed saving, the Urban Seedkeepers Program may be for you. Through the program, EYA will train, educate, and support 20 individuals with growing space on how to save their own seeds. In exchange the seeds will be donated back to EYA for our Community Nursery Project. This is a great way for people to learn how to save their own seeds, contribute to biodiversity and our city’s seed security, and support EYA!

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it's harvest... it's harvest time!

it's harvest... it's harvest time!

In the dark, cold, exam-filled winter of 2005/2006 I huddled in the UBC Farm Centre kitchen, surrounded by grafting knives, tape, bundles of unlikely looking twiggy things and mugs of hot tea.  Keen students and volunteers joined me, and thus began the UBC Farm Heritage Orchard!

We grafted 155 trees, including 60 different apple cultivars – over 50% of which  originated between 1600-1899 A.D.  (Very very old.  Very very cool).

I held my breath through till the spring when, miraculously, the buds on the unlikely little twiggy things (which were stored in pots  in an outdoor  shelter) began to break… Bright green leaves, which unfurled into perfect little flags of life. We cared for them over the summer, planted them into the UBC Farm soil in the rainy fall of 2006, established irrigation and trellising, pruned them, trained them, talked to them (at least I did) and weeded them.  And now, nearly three years later, we are harvesting gorgeous fruits from these  un-twig-like, lovely trees.  I fully admit my bias – but I think they are ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!

AND NOW FOR THE EVENTS!! This weekend the UBC Farm is participating in the UBC Botanical Garden’s AppleFest, Oct 17-18.  AND!!!  On Saturday October 17 – you are cordially invited to join me (Sarah Belanger) on one of three tours of the UBC Farm Heritage Orchard: 10am, 12pm, 2pm. We will meet at the UBC Farm gates and, though it may rain, it will be a lovely time.  A great outing for those interested in apple production and culture! For a little more info, please check out the UBC Farm Website.

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Mark Bomford, the program director at UBC Farm, and Samara Brock, big-time friend of the Farm, will both be part of the speaking panel at this event. Should be a very interesting evening!

Urban Food Renaissance: A discussion on issues of food security, policy, and health

Summary: What are the challenges facing planners and policy makers in addressing issues related to food security and public health? How can we contribute to effective actions that address these challenges? Join us at the upcoming PlanTalk for a discussion on these issues with representatives from the City of Vancouver, City of Surrey, UBC Farm and BC Healthy Communities.

When:  Monday, April 27, 2009 (6:30-9:00PM)

Appetizers and networking from 6:30-7:00, to be followed by presentations and discussion from 7:00-9:00.

Where:  SFU Harbour Centre (Room 1600), 515 West Hastings Street

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Just got a hold of this: a fact sheet produced by the Food Policy Council with extended info regarding their proposal to allow chickens in the city.


Allowing Vancouverites to Raise Chickens Fact Sheet

What are we proposing? That Vancouver City Council approve the amendment of By-law no. 9433 (the “By-law”), which prohibits the keeping of various kinds of livestock within city limits, to allow residents to raise poultry.  We would recommend thinking a little bit beyond just chickens and allow the keeping of poultry (or “fowl”) as some urban residents might find other species (like quail) more interesting or appropriate to raise. (This has been successfully done in Seattle.)

Why? Because a number of Vancouver residents would like to keep poultry for eggs, and the City, its residents and the birds themselves stand to benefit.

What are the benefits? Benefits to the City:

  • the Mayor and Council have a stated goal of making Vancouver “the greenest city in the world”.  Local, sustainable food sources are a key part of that goal – and nothing is more sustainable and local than allowing families to grow their own food (including eggs)
  • a lower carbon footprint (no transportation)
  • increased food security for the City and its residents
  • reduced pesticides and antibiotics in our food chain.

Benefits to residents:

  • an inexpensive, wholesome, quality, healthy alternative to commercially produced eggs in which an array of chemical agents are used in feedstuffs
  • a satisfying hobby
  • a natural pest control and a ready source of fertilizer for gardens
  • a connection to where food comes from (versus a Styrofoam container in a supermarket cooler)
  • a great educational opportunity for city kids who can be exposed to a whole range of outstanding learning experiences, including the often-lost idea of where food comes from
  • eggs to share with neighbours!

Benefits to the birds:

  • FAR more humane treatment, including a better environment and life than in commercial laying operations
  • access to space (commercial laying hens have a space the size of a piece of paper to live out their lives)
  • access to the outdoors and fresh air (which a tiny percentage of commercial birds have access to)
  • a diet/environment free of antibiotics/pesticides (evidently all of the organic poultry feed in Washington state is imported from B.C.)
  • less chance of disease outbreaks.

Would Vancouver be alone in this?  Do any other cities allow this? Many cities in the U.K. allow poultry keeping – it’s a widespread practice with a conservative estimate of half a million households keeping birds.  In the U.S., a number of major cities including New York NY, Seattle Washington, Portland Oregon, Arlington, Virginia and Madison, Wisconsin (all have active backyard poultry promotions. Here in B.C., Victoria, Surrey, Richmond, New Westminster and Burnaby all allow the practice.

What about the noise? Chickens generally have a low clucking sound, described by many as soothing.  However they do have a louder cluck after laying their eggs, which usually happens between 9 AM and noon.  Hens have up to a couple of dozen separate calls, of which this is the loudest.  However, the noise from hens is generally below that of dogs and other pets, and any possible noise infractions would be covered under existing city by-laws.

Couldn’t this result in animal cruelty? No more than with any current pets (dogs, cats, fish).  Allowing backyard poultry will actually REDUCE cruelty, as fewer eggs will be obtained from inhumane commercial egg operations.  This is a far more humane option.

What about avian flu? All outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in western countries have been in commercial flocks of highly inbred strains of poultry with relatively weak immune systems.  All birds are susceptible to the avian influenza virus, but in small flocks there is an extremely small opportunity for the virus to mutate into a pathogenic form (pathogenicity refers to the ability of the virus to produce disease).  Backyard flocks have much stronger natural immune systems which tend to fight off any infections naturally.

In Summary A by-law change would allow residents to practice a fun and beneficial hobby that’s a source of local, healthful food, with real benefits to the City, the birds, and the environment.  Allowing residents to keep poultry would not present a significant break from what is currently permitted within the City of Vancouver nor would it introduce any new infrastructure or support requirements (like avian veterinary care) because they already exist for those who are keeping the registered homing pigeons, canaries, budgerigars, parrots, parakeets and exotic birds of all species allowed pursuant to By-law no. 9433, Section 7.5.

February 2009

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