Cypress Community Garden

Cypress Community Garden

Municipalities have become increasingly concerned about food security in the past few years. I’ve written before about Vancouver’s Food Policy Council and some of the work they’ve been doing, including encouraging a by-law to allow backyard chickens. Since then some notable developments have happened in the city.

A few weeks ago, Vancouver city council approved five community projects, agreeing to spend $100,000 on the small-scale projects. One aims to help people on social assistance or small fixed incomes can buy coupons at the beginning of each month for a small fee and redeem them later in the month for fresh fruits and vegetables at a mini-farmers market in the neighbourhood. Another funds the development of farmers markets; several Vancouver neighbourhoods worked with city council to streamline fees and fix restrictive zoning bylaws. Council has now approved the development of interim guidelines and zoning changes to develop new farmers markets and expand existing ones, including the very successful Kitsilano, West End, and Trout Lake markets. I visited the West End farmers market this weekend and found the vendors selling seasonal greens, peppers, berries, cheese, fresh lamb and eggs. The prices, as usual for Vancouver, started around the same as supermarket produce and went up from there, but there’s no denying the freshness of the food. I’m still not sure why farmers markets out here are so pricey, when a dollar or two at a market in Ottawa, London, or Toronto will get you a head of broccoli bigger than your own.

There are lots of other ways to get fresh produce in the city. Vancouver has some amazing community gardens, where residents pay a small fee for a garden plot and grow all sorts of fruits, vegetables and flowers. A friend of mine has a plot at the Cypress Community Garden, which cost her $30 for the summer. She goes to garden work parties with the many other gardeners in the area; Kitsilano is full of apartment dwellers who otherwise wouldn’t have the space to grow their own food.

You can also raise chickens and have access to your own fresh eggs daily, since the bylaw was passed to allow backyard chickens. You can check out all these developments on Vancouver’s Food Policy Council website.

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