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Master’s Thesis – Urban Farming in Vancouver


There is a new generation of urban agriculture emerging in North America

By Sharla Stolhandske
Degree of Master of Urban Studies
in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
© 2011 Simon Fraser University
151 pages


There is a new generation of urban agriculture emerging in North America. Labelled urban farming, this modern urban agriculture industry is tapping into the economic potential for local, organic food. An ethnographic study of six urban farmers growing food in Metro Vancouver reveals that the act of growing and marketing food in the city is an expanding and dedicated business. The study focused particularly on newly emerging highly urbanized farm enterprises in the Vancouver area. Urban farmers are embedded in the community as land stewards, local suppliers of seasonal vegetables and educators.

This industry has a light ecological footprint, with organic, small-scale planting techniques and local marketing. While not a lucrative industry, it proves to be a formidable lifestyle choice, with several non-monetary benefits. Most importantly, this study provides the first baseline data and theory regarding the extent and viability of this emergent type of commercial urban agriculture in Vancouver.

Farming is one of the most challenging professions. Farmers master many trades to successfully grow, market and distribute food to our plates. We can survive without many of our daily purchases but without vegetables, fruits and grains we will perish. We should hold farmers in the highest esteem for the nourishment they provide. Yet, farmers are notoriously under valued for their services. To all farmers – thank you for your hard work.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
List of Tables Glossary
1: Introduction
1.1 New Generation Urban Agriculture
1.2 The Research Question
2: Urban Agriculture in Vancouver
2.1 The State of Urban Agriculture in Vancouver
2.2 The Economic Potential of Urban Agriculture in Vancouver
3: Urban Farming
3.1 Urban Agriculture: The Broad Scope
3.2 Urban Farming Defined
3.3 Urban Farming in Context
3.4 Economic Feasibility of Urban Farming
4: Local Food Economy
4.1 The Local Food Economy in North America
4.2 The Economics of the Local Food Economy
5: Methodology
5.1 Data Collection: Qualitative Interviews, Direct Observation and Participation
5.1.1 The Participants
5.1.2 Interviews
5.1.3 Observations
5.1.4 Validity and Reliability
5.2 Data Analysis
5.2.1 Transcribing Data
5.2.2 Coding
5.2.3 Data Analysis Part 1: Telling the Stories
5.2.4 Data Analysis Part 2: Emerging Theories
5.3 Results
6: Land
6.1 Land Use and Availability
6.2 Landowner Relationships
6.3 Analysis
7: Growing Operations
7.1 Organic Practices
7.2 Intensive Growing Techniques
7.3 Irrigation
7.4 Growing Skills
7.5 Analysis
8: Networking and Community Interactions
8.1 Farmer – Farmer Interactions
8.1.1 Farm Groups
8.2 Farmer – Community Interactions
8.3 Volunteers.
8.4 Community Perceptions
8.5 Vandalism
8.6 Analysis
9: Marketing Strategies
9.1 Harvest Shares (CSAs)
9.2 Farmers Markets
9.3 Alternative Markets
9.3.1 Analysis
9.4 Value Added Products
9.5 Value Added Attributes and Services
9.5.1 Analysis
9.6 Advertising
9.6.1 Analysis
10: Business Operations
10.1 Income
10.2 Expenses
10.3 Job Satisfaction
10.4 Related Income Generators
10.5 Time Constraints
10.6 Business Development
10.7 Analysis
11: Theories and Conclusions
11.1 Theory: Urban Farming is Profitable
11.1.1 Highly Intensive Farming Practices
11.1.2 Strategies to Maximize Profits
11.1.3 Related Income Generators
11.1.4 Strategies to Reduce Expenses
11.1.5 Strategies to Reduce Labour
11.2 Theory: Urban Farming is a Lifestyle Choice
11.3 Theory: Urban Farming in Metro Vancouver is Increasing
11.3.1 Recommendation #3: Recognize urban farming as a legitimate
11.3.2 Recommendation #4: Incorporate urban farming into the Vancouver
Food Policy initiatives
11.3.3 Recommendation #5: Create market gardens
11.4 Impacts of the Research
11.4.1 Areas for future study
Reference List Appendices
Appendix: Interview Guideline
Category 1: History and Background
Category 2: Networking/Selling
Category 3: Land Use
Category 4: Economic Factors
Category 5: Planting Regime

Read the complete thesis here.


1 ken hargesheimer { 02.26.11 at 12:32 pm }

How can I download it into my computer?

2 Dejene { 04.13.11 at 3:55 am }

goooooooooood abstract

3 daniel luther { 05.19.11 at 3:04 am }

please let me have this information as reference materials for my MSc. research on ”the economic efficiency in the urban dairy cattle keeping”