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Category — City Farmer

Canadian Institutions Supported ‘City Farmer’ in Formative Years

City Farmer poster created by Environment Canada.

City Farmer’s Funding Sources 1978 – 1984

By Michael Levenston
Executive Director
City Farmer
March 27, 2015

Looking back to the beginning of our ‘activist’ non-profit society, we see that many funding agencies took a chance with our ideas and gave us money. Rather than urban agriculture being seen as something threatening, all levels of government and many independent funding bodies encouraged it. The dollar amounts were not large but they sustained us and allowed us to do our work without interference.

City Farmer held courses at the University of British Columbia, (later our website was also hosted by the University); we were leased a large portion of land belonging to the Vancouver Park Board for a community garden; our Demonstration Food Garden is on City of Vancouver land; our initial funding came from the Federal Ministry of Energy, Mines and Resources; other Ministries such as Employment & Immigration Canada and Secretary of State of Canada also funded us; Environment Canada produced our large colour poster; the private sector funding included MacMillan Bloedel Ltd., Gulf Canada Ltd. and TD Bank; and major independent funders such as the Vancouver Foundation, the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, and the McLean Foundation came through for us.

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March 28, 2015   No Comments

Community Gardener finds 1984 Harrowsmith Magazine with article about City Farmer

harrowsmith1984012Cover of 1984 issue.

Red Celery in the Sunshine talks about setting up City Farmer’s gardens in the backyard of the Vancouver Energy Information Centre, near Maple Street and Sixth Avenue … where it still is!!”

By Maureen Temme
Webkeeper: Community Gardens London, Ontario
March 25, 2015

Excerpts from her blog “Saving the world in my spare time”:

Now, if you follow these columns, you’ll have heard me mention – thank – Michael Levenston for articles I’ve run across on his site City Farmer. City Farmer must surely be Canada’s longest running urban agriculture website, and even non-profit (1978!): City Farmer, Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture.

The article I just ran across is titled Red Celery in the Sunshine, and is from Harrowsmith, April/May 1984.

The article talks about urban agriculture, biodynamics, food in the community, the importance of living soil, volunteers … all the things some of us are trying to get across to some people today!

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March 26, 2015   No Comments

City Farmer’s Cob Shed with Green Roof is 12 Years Old



The outside layer of clay belonged to famous Haida artist Bill Reid

Sculptor, George Rammell, donated Haida artist Bill Reid’s clay. “The clay I provided belonged to Haida artist Bill Reid. It provided the form for many of Bill’s sculpture projects including the “Whale” at the aquarium, and the huge bronze “Spirit Canoe” at the Vancouver airport. I also used it for my bear track project where I had a Grizzly Bear walk over 15 meters of clay from which I cast the event. It’s great to know this clay, that has such a history on the Coast, now forms the surfaces on your project.”

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March 22, 2015   No Comments

City Farmer’s Introduction to Organic Food Gardening


Learn how to grow your own vegetables in an urban environment

City Farmer’s hands on organic food gardening course includes:

Site planning/design/soil preparation
Choice of seeds-plants/starting seeds
Companion-succession planting/harvesting/composting
Organic gardening techniques/natural pest control/bugs
Container gardening
Waterwise gardening
Birds and mammals in the garden

$50. CALL TO REGISTER: 604.736-2250

Still two classes left.

Introduction to Organic Food Gardening
Saturdays 9:30am-1pm in March 21, 28, 2015

Course Instructor: Sharon Slack, Head Gardener, City Farmer

Location: Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden
2150 Maple Street at 6th Avenue in Kitsilano

March 19, 2015   No Comments

City Farmer’s Gardening Workshops for Children


Workshops held at the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden in Kitsilano

Are you keen for your children to grow up with an appreciation of nature? City Farmer’s gardening workshops will give kids hands-on learning at our organic demonstration garden in Kitsilano. Children will learn about the lifecycle of the garden in six workshops running from Spring to Fall:


Sunday May 10th – Spring Planting
Sunday June 7th – Worms in the Garden
Sunday July 5th – Bugs and Bees
Sunday August 9th – Flowers
Sunday Sept 13th – Fall Harvesting
Sunday October 4th – Putting the Garden to Bed and Seed Saving

Workshops run from 9.30am – 11.00am.

$20 per workshop or $100 for all six.

Contact City Farmer at 604 736 2250 to register.

Click on image for larger file.

March 19, 2015   No Comments

Readers from 214 countries visited ‘City Farmer News’ in 2014


Most visitors were from the United States with Canada and India not far behind.

Jet Pack Stats
December 2014


India: 28,191

Iceland: 105

Saudi Arabia: 778

Ethiopia: 634

Brazil: 1,614

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December 31, 2014   Comments Off

Gardens grow another day on the Arbutus Corridor in Vancouver

Co-op residents’ community gardens destroyed by CPR.

“The gardeners that I knew whose gardens were destroyed in the first round-up around Marine Drive lived in co-ops.”

By Katie Hyslop
Magaphone Magazine
December 2014


“There really isn’t a need for a railway to go through this area that they’ve made us aware of,” Levenston says of CPR. “But there’s a huge need for green space in this city as the city grows busier and busier, as the price of houses goes up, as people lose their gardens as [they] move into high rises. This [the Arbutus Corridor] is a gem.”

Levenston adds losing the green space of the corridor would be akin to losing half of Stanley Park. Instead of selling the land back to the city, he maintains CPR should donate it back to the people of Vancouver.

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December 9, 2014   Comments Off

‘City Farmer News’ Celebrates 20 Years On-line

Country count on the original City Farmer web site.

This web site began in October 1994 as ‘Urban Agriculture Notes’

By Michael Levenston
Editor of City Farmer News
Nov 14, 2014

Watching life on the Internet, or as local Vancouver writer William Gibson named it, ‘Cyberspace’, has been our modern habit for approximately a quarter century.

In 1994 City Farmer Society began to connect with people across the globe via the ‘World Wide Web’ to share their stories about growing food in the city.

We originally started this news service on paper in 1978 by producing an eight page tabloid. But that couldn’t compare with the ease and global reach of the wired Net. Stories sent in at 1AM were re-circulated to a global audience by 1:15AM.

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November 14, 2014   Comments Off

City Farmer’s Cream of the Crop Pollinator Ale


Celebrate Compost!

November 10, 2014

Here at the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden we take our craft seriously. Compost is what powers us, and this year we wanted to celebrate the fruits of our labours in a ‘Home Grown Brew’ kind of way.

We acquired some locally sourced hop rhizomes and created a large container garden, which we filled with a combination of our own backyard compost, vermi-compost and municipal made compost. The beautiful lantern-like cones and the tallness of the trellised hop plants surprised visitors and they were a wonderful addition to our garden tours.

The current booming Pacific North West Craft Beer industry has made people ‘hop aware’ and excited about ‘do-it-yourself’ signature beer.

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November 10, 2014   Comments Off

Science World staff visit City Farmer’s garden in Vancouver

Head gardener Sharon Slack shows visitors the cold frame full of seedlings which will be harvested later this winter.

“We’re even more excited to have City Farmer here at the end of the month as part of our Around the Dome Science Festival”

By Lyndsay Fraser
Science World Blog
Oct 21, 2014


First thing in the morning we jumped on our bikes and pedaled to our first stop of the day, City Farmer’s Compost Demonstration Garden. For 36 years, City Farmer has encouraged urban dwellers to develop their own green thumbs. It’s the perfect place to visit if you’re curious about composting at home or want to get inspired about growing your own food.

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October 21, 2014   Comments Off

‘City Farmer’ featured on Easy Organic Gardener Radio Show

Listen here to archived recording.

With host Sheri Frey

Guest Michael Levenston
June 22, 2014

About Sheri:
Since 1979 Sheri has been co-owner and vice president of ARBICO Organics. ARBICO Organics produces and markets organic and natural products for home, business, garden, lawn, farm and pets. Products include beneficial insects and organisms, fertilizers and soil amendments, weed and disease controls, composting supplies, insecticides, critter controls, horse care, traps, lures, pheromones, botanicals and more.

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June 23, 2014   Comments Off

‘Lonely Planet Vancouver’ features ‘Vancouver’s Compost Demonstration Garden’ in latest edition


6th Edition of the ‘Vancouver Lonely Planet’

By John Lee
Lonely Planet
Release Date: Feb. 1 2014

City Farmer Society has managed the Compost Garden at 2150 Maple Street since 1981 when it began as a demonstration organic food garden. Since then we have welcomed many thousands of visitors. Our latest project is a ‘Climate Change Adaptation Garden’ on the site. (Mike)

Excerpt from Lonely Planet guidebook:

“Don’t be put off by the name: this verdant city garden is an oasis among the backstreets of Kits. A rustic plot with a cob shed, compost toilet and wild and cultivated areas of flowers and vegetables, it’s a great place for gardeners to visit.

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February 20, 2014   Comments Off

Container Concept Design for City Farmer Society in Vancouver, BC

Click image to see larger file.

“Every year there are at least 1.4 million shipping containers sent back to Asia to be recycled.”

Designed by Keith Dewey for City Farmer Society
Owner, Designer of
Victoria, BC. June, 2013

Excerpt from Zigloo: is a design house that is leading the way in custom design with a difference. The difference is finding sustainable solutions to building technologies, especially in the use of shipping containers as architectural building blocks. The benefits of which are lowering our carbon footprint, saving our forests and doing it affordably.

Zigloo domestique is a prototype concept that has led to a number of CargoSpace Living projects throughout North America. Keith Dewey (owner of created zigloo domestique as a show home to entice people to think differently about the way we live and to demonstrate that living sustainably doesn’t mean “living without”.

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October 8, 2013   Comments Off

Explosive growth of Vancouver’s urban gardens prompts confrontations

Emi Do (foreground) and friends tend their urban farm on 41st Avenue in Vancouver on Aug. 6, 2013. Left to right, Lauren McIndoe, Jennifer van den Brink, Mert Kecik, Luna Hallam. Photograph by Wayne Leidenfrost, Vancouver Sun.

Garden plots and urban farms raises issues about taxes, policy and getting along with neighbours

By Mike Hager And Jeff Lee
Vancouver Sun
August 6, 2013


Now, the development of new urban farms — a reversal of the history of cities which once squeezed out small market farms as neighbourhoods expanded — has also created the need for new rules. No policies exist for how urban farms can operate. In Vancouver, there’s not even such a thing as a business licence for urban farms.

Reimer said a report to council this fall may help resolve conflicts between urban farmers and neighbours. “There are all kinds of issues, from tenure of land to how long you can stay to how you operate it without negatively affecting your neighbours,” Reimer said. “If you are going to run an urban farm, you need some security.”

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August 7, 2013   Comments Off

35 years ago ‘City Farmer’ began out of an interest in energy use in the food system

BobMike1979CF copy
‘In olden days’- 1979 – Photo of Michael Levenston and Bob Woodsworth working on an issue of City Farmer newspaper. Before the Internet, we sent written copy to a typesetter, then cut and pasted stories and black and white photos onto lay-out pages and waited for the printer to deliver our publication. Finally we drove about the city delivering copies to stores or we mailed them to subscribers.

‘City Farmer’ was born in 1978 at the Vancouver Community Conservation Centre (VCCC), a six-month project created by Canada’s Federal Ministry of Mines, Energy and Resources

Project Final Report about the VCCC
Report written by Dana Weber, project leader of the Vancouver Centre.
September 8, 1978
(Mike: ‘City Farmer’ related topics are marked in bold. Note that before ‘carbon neutral’, ‘greenhouse gas emissions’, ‘climate change’, and ‘carbon offsets’, environmentalists spent a great deal of time promoting ‘energy conservation’.)

A. Publicity and Public Information

The type of publicity and public information we used on our project falls into two general categories–that involving use of existing media (and its ‘use’ of us), and that involving the development of our own media. Following are examples of the first type:

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August 4, 2013   Comments Off