Vancouver-area mayor wants people to convert their lawns to vegetable gardensPosted: May 5, 2011
Mayor Darrell Mussatto wants to convert North Vancouver’s lawns to urban farmland.
"We don’t need a lot of expensive technical solutions like rooftop gardens. What about front yards and back yards?" Mussatto said. "That’s a huge land base, and how many of those yards are dedicated to turf?
"Twenty per cent of the people live on 80 per cent of the land, and most of their yards are lawn," he said. "It can easily be changed over to fruits and vegetables."
The City of North Vancouver is second in population density in the region, trailing only Vancouver. But Mussatto sees a lot of wasted space in people’s yards, space that could be producing food.
North Vancouver council has instructed staff to prepare an urban agriculture strategy.
"We want people to convert the yards of single family homes to gardens and even commercial farms," Mussatto said.
Vancouver already has several commercial yard-farming firms, including City Farm Boy.
Ward Teulon has been farming residential yards in Vancouver since 2006 and maintains a roster of 10 yards, including a rooftop garden near Yaletown.
Homeowners take a share of the vegetables that Teulon grows and the rest is distributed to his 38 shareholders, people who pay an annual fee of about $600 for a weekly basket of produce from May through mid-October.
"There was a lot of good soil that wasn’t being used, so I put up some posters trying to find yards," said Teulon. "Once I got a few yards, word of mouth did the rest."
North Vancouver is determined to wipe away all impediments to urban agriculture. Standards of maintenance bylaws were designed to encourage people to maintain a particular kind of landscaping and drive agriculture out of the urban environment, according to Coun. Craig Keating.
"People recognize that the way we are dealing with food in our society has got to change, we need to re-examine how we deal with public spaces and parks," Keating said. "We should be re-examining whether front yards should only be decorative, and commercial agriculture in the city is something I do support.
"We need to make sure there aren’t any obstacles to inhibit family yards from converting to agricultural uses," Keating said.
Keating has even volunteered to convert his own front yard to vegetable garden. The Edible Garden Project employs volunteers to plant and tend vegetable gardens for distribution to low-income residents.
A series of work parties have converted about one quarter of Keating’s 5,000-square-foot yard into raised beds for vegetables.
"We are working with volunteers from the Edible Garden Project, a class of social justice students from Nelson came in Thursday, and a group from Canucks Autism Network came on Saturday," Keating recounted.
"Up till now the front yard has been a monument to long grass and dog poop. Now we are doing something socially redeemable," Keating said.
Millie- I say make growing and fertilizing grass and other non-edibles illegal…we can’t afford the water waste..especially here in Florida!