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Another flash from the past – Canadian Press 1981 – “Urban vegetable growth is unlimited”


City Farmer, an ‘Office of Urban Agriculture’, the forerunner to what will eventually be a standard resource in every city

Canadian Press (CP)
Brandon Sun
July 21, 1981

Vancouver(CP) – Where do you grow vegetables when you live in an apartment? On your balcony, patio or roof, of course.

Instead of nasturtiums and sweet peas, you can plant lettuce and carrots; cucumbers can climb up the wall instead of inedible ivy. And if you don’t have a balcony and the rood isn’t suitable, there’s always a window for a box of fresh herbs.

“There’s no limit to what you can grow in a container,” said David Tarrant, educational coordinator of the Botanical Gardens at the University of British Columbia.

“Plants don’t mind what they grow in as long as it is a minimum of 2 and one half centimetres deep and two and one half centimetres across. Of course you have to be reasonable – certain trees and shrubs are too large for a balcony – but we’ve grown brussels sprouts, corn, carrots, eggplant, tomatoes and all sorts of greens with great success.”

Michael Levenston of City Farmer, a non-profit society which encourages urban gardening for food, said “most urban dwellers know very little about producing food.”

And that makes us dependent on supermarkets and grocery stores where we have no control. It’s more than economics – it’s political too.”

He said he sees us preparing for a time when there might be some scarcity.

“I believe that the ‘back to the land’ ideas that took so many of us out to the country to grow our own food and become self-sufficient can be applied to the city. Best of all, it’s fun.”

Levenston likes to think of City Farmer as an “office of urban agriculture,” the forerunner to what will eventually be a standard resource in every city.

Tarrant said the first thing you have to know about growing vegetables is that you must not crowd them.

“As soon as you restrict them in any way, vegetables will go to seed, so no more than one tomato plant and a few radishes per two and a half centimetre pot.

“Another thing most people don’t realize is that the sterile potting soil you buy has no food in it. It may say ‘ready to use’ but it’s been sitting around for a while – say a year – any nutrients will have gone long ago.”