Monthly Archives: November 2011

Vancouver Urban Farming Forum resources


This weekend’s Vancouver Urban Farming Forum starts tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to attending it. Thoughtful discourse and solutions-based discussions on the topic of food security at a local level are SO important right now. The current industrial, global food system is completely unsustainable and unhealthy for the planet and all living things on it. It’s time for people to regain control of their food and find empowerment and fulfillment while doing so. The fact that urban farming discussions are taking place in cities around the world (in partnership between the grassroots and municiple levels) indicates an acknowledged need for change and a desire to explore new ideas (and return to some ideas of the past that were – and still are being – bulldozed over by the big business agriculture industry). This is an exciting thing!

In advance of this weekend’s forum, attendees have been receiving ‘homework’: background information about the topics to be covered as well as other interesting urban farming information. I thought I’d post the links here for others to find because it all looks really interesting. Enjoy!


Lantzville (oh, where to start?!):


San Francisco:





A small (but active) corner of the farm


We live on 2.5 acres of land. There is still a lot of it that we haven’t touched so it feels like we have a lot of space, especially since we’re doing a decent job of making the most of the space we use. This photo is a really good example of that. I think I took it in September and forgot about it until I came across it on my computer today. 

I love this photo for a few reasons: 1) it’s a good reminder of what we’ve accomplished so far, 2) it’s a hopeful reminder of the growth that will return after this winter season passes, and 3) it captures an aspect of the kind of farming we’re pursuing. 

As mentioned numerous time on this blog already, we’re trying to grow our own food in a way that works with nature and not against it. We’re trying to reuse the stuff we already have and incorporate our ‘waste’ by recycling it into our food system. We’re also trying to produce and grow things in a way that enhances our soil quality and the natural biodiversity on the farm. 

This is an image of the north side of our barn. It includes our three-tiered composting system for our food scraps and natural compostable materials found on the farm. Above the composting system we house rabbits who provide meat to the meat eaters on the farm and whose manure falls through the bottom of their cages, enhancing our compost. Gutters between the barn and the rabbit hutch capture rain water and deliver it to a rain barrel (not pictured) and a small garden area grows food for us. 

The garden shown in the photo began as a soggy, wet, shaded patch of earth when we first built the composting system. Using mulching techniques, we created a growing space, enhanced the soil with nitrogen fixing plants (comfrey) and grew jerusalem artichokes, beans, pumpkins and nasturtiums. 

What was once an unused side of the barn has become a space teaming with life. A happy transformation!

Sheet mulching with cardboard


Before you toss your cardboard boxes in the recycling bin, ask yourself if you can use them in your garden (and if not, we can!). Sheet mulching with cardboard is a popular way to prepare garden beds without having to dig and rototill through thick weeds and grass. It’s also a great way to create weed-free garden beds (at least weed-free from the start :).

Given our buttercup-strewn property, digging up new planting areas is a challenge. It’s impossible to create new garden beds without having them full of buttercup seeds from the start unless we practice some form of mulching. We’ve been trying out a few different techniques, including hugelkulture and lasagna gardening

For newcomers to this kind of talk, mulch is a protective cover of compostable materials (such as cardboard, leaves, straw, woodchips, wool, etc) put on top of soil to help suppress weed growth while retaining moisture, reducing erosion and providing nutrients. It mimics the leaf and fallen branch covers we find on forest floors. 

It’s something that I wasn’t really aware of until I moved out here on the farm and started learning from others and doing my own research. Now it’s something that I’m relying on as I start up new garden bed areas on the farm for next year’s plantings. 

A couple weeks ago, we bought a black mulberry tree and Chris planted it on the east side of the concrete platform beside our raised beds (the concrete platform is where we’re planning on building our greenhouse). Yesterday, I mowed down the long grass and weeds in the area surrounding the new tree and covered it all with a solid layer of uncontaminated cardboard (which was great timing before last night’s big snowfall on everything!).

The cardboard will help suppress the weeds in that area and form the foundation of a new garden bed. Soon I’ll add layers of other compostable materials and eventually top it with manure and compost so that next spring we can grow a lovely guild full of edible food in that space. 

Photos above of the cardboard I laid down yesterday as well as some shots of the lasagna garden and hugelkulture beds in process.