Vancouver

Vancouver’s Olympic vegetable gardens

Vancouver Olympics 2010 mascots

In 2006, the Vancouver City Council created a challenge to add 2,010 vegetable gardens before the 2010 Winter Olympics. As of the end of June, they had reached 1,800 new food-producing gardens, only 210 gardens from their end of year goal. Working with the Vancouver Food Policy Council, the city government urges new gardens to be created on roofs, balcony, in the ground, a backyard sharing program, and a “grow a row, share a row” program that contributes to local food banks. They are currently working on a backyard hen policy.

The Sharing Backyards program is ingeniously simple: it connects people who want to grow food with people who have land and want someone’s help with gardening. “Yard sharing” makes use of wasted space, creates connections between city residents, and increases local food production. Here’s a screen shot of the interface that allows gardeners and people with garden space to connect.

Vancouver backyard sharing

Vancouver’s City Farmer says that 44% of Vancouver’s residents are involved in some form of urban agriculture. This program seems simple and low-cost. Why aren’t more global cities promoting urban agriclture?

Image of Tokyo residential vegetable garden in 1944

Tokyo residential vegetable garden in 1944

This is an image of a residential vegetable garden during the war in Tokyo from March 1944, published by Life Magazine. It comes from an amazing urban agriculture website called City Farmer, out of Vancouver, Canada.

United States residents are aware of our country’s World War II “victory gardens,” recently revived by the Obama White House. Yet somehow seeing a similar war-time image in Tokyo, shortly before the city was decimated by fire bombs, is surprising.

In times of war and scarcity, urban residents naturally turned to growing food in their gardens. Are today’s combination of unemployment and climate change enough to generate an equally widespread movement in global cities today? What skills have urban residents lost? What governmental and non-governmental resources could make urban agriculture a significant source of food?

Some images of the Obama’s White House garden after the jump.

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