Monday, October 12, 2009

Future of Farmers in Richmond

A great article from the Richmond Review:

Zachrey Helmberger used to live in an earth ship. His New Mexico home was created from natural and recycled materials, its walls made of tires rammed with earth.

He lived in a subdivision of earth ships all off the grid. No gas lines, sewer lines or water lines, but he still needed a car to pick up groceries given the dry climate.

Helmberger wanted to grow his own food.

Nearly two years ago, his wife accepted a job in Richmond, and the couple made their way to Lulu Island. Since then, the 44-year-old has made it his mission to become an urban farmer. He sees it as a calling, a way to help give Richmond food sovereignty, connect with the soil and feed himself at the same time.

“The work is really hard and pay is poor but I feel called to do it. I feel there is a higher power that is compelling me to be a farmer,” he said.

Helmberger is bucking the trend when the number of farmers in Canada has been steadily decreasing while the age of those still in the fields is increasing. Between 2001 and 2006, the Canadian farm population dropped 6.2 per cent to 684,260, and 40 per cent of farmers were aged 55 or older.

Helmberger’s only problem is he has no land to inherit. A partnership or lease arrangement is the only way he’ll be able to start on his dream, he said. There are others like him—a younger generation wanting to head to the fields and get their hands dirty in urban agriculture.

But the question facing them is how to afford it.

Kids find own careers

Helen Jang co-owns Tai On Farm on No. 5 Road. At 60, she admits retirement isn’t a long way off, but no one in the family wants to take over the farm.

“All the young people went on with their own careers,” she said. “They’ve seen how tough it is to make a dollar in farming.”

The two-acre farm and produce stand was bought by her parents in 1970 and later passed on to their kids. Jang said farming is a good life—fresh air, growing food from scratch—but the younger generation, including her three adult children, simply aren’t interested in taking it over.

“For the small farms like us, there’s not really a career in it. You’re not going to get rich on it,” she said. “Ours is very labour intensive.”

If her land sells, she doesn’t believe it will ever be a place for consumers to buy local produce again.

At a regional agriculture forum last year, many others voiced concern that young people don’t see farming as a way to earn a living.

“We have to do something very serious about making farming a profitable activity on the land so that the land will be farmed and farmed for food,” said Johnny Carline, chief administrative officer of Metro Vancouver. “I don’t know what the answer will be. I suspect it will be a lot more complicated than simply providing subsidies for farmers.”

Other speakers said land speculation continues to drive up prices of agricultural land, and new farmers are more likely to go into debt than turn a profit.

Quebec found a small solution by offering young farmers $30,000 to spend on anything a new farmer needs. It doesn’t have to be paid back.

University of B.C. Farm manager Mark Bomford emphasized the importance of focusing on the future of the farmer—rather than just the land.

“Farmers may be at a threat greater than the farms themselves,” said Bomford.

Business is expensive

Farmer Bruce May, whose extended family owns large tracts of farmland in East Richmond, sees things differently.

Several months ago, May brought along a few dozen young farmers to a city council meeting to boost a proposal to build a cranberry processing plant on farmland near Highway 91. May made his point to council: young people are interested in farming, and they want to keep it viable.

May believes those young farmers will all own their own farmland in the future—many will inherit their soil. But for those who don’t, farming is still a viable career, he said.

“The same thing applies if you want to buy a McDonald’s or a Tim Hortons. Whatever you want to do, the entry into business is an expensive thing,” he said. “You don’t start by having a big operation, you go and rent some farmland, and there’s lots of young guys that have managed to do that.”

May insists it’s a career where money can be made, provided farmers have support from local government.

“What they need is a council with foresight to make sure we keep it viable, because agriculture changes on a regular basis, and we’ve got to change with it. There’s lots of people more excited than ever about it.”

A growing vision

A longtime Richmond councillor and agriculture advocate said the debate around the future of farming—and farmers—is growing.

“My e-mail goes constantly on this issue now because there’s a great demand for people to grow their own food in the cities,” he said. “People in the urban area are becoming very aware of the miles their food is hauled and the fact we’re running out of fossil fuels and we should be buying local.”

Despite attempts by the previous city council to remove the Garden City lands from the Agricultural Land Reserve, the city’s Agricultural Viability Strategy of 2003 supports maintaining the “stability and integrity” of the ALR boundary. It also pledges to provide farmers with “the necessary support, services and infrastructure that are required for agricultural viability.”

Steves said the city can help through what he calls municipally supported agriculture: the city owns the land, and leases small acreages to farmers. Through a deal with Kwantlen Polytechnic University, that could happen soon with the city’s 50 acres of land at the south end of Gilbert Road.

“On an acre, with bio-intensive agriculture selling to a farmers market, you can actually make a living at it, or pretty close to it. We’ve found a lot more people interested in that kind of agriculture instead of having big tractors and equipment farming 100 acres,” said Steves.

A return of an Agricultural Land Commission program would also help new farmers, said Steves. He said the commission used to buy land from farmers who didn’t have heirs to pass it on to. It would then sell the land to a new farmer or lease it out, effectively eliminating real estate speculation.

A shift in outlook

It’s possible to make a living growing food, said Arzeena Hamir, co-ordinator of the Richmond Food Security Society. But a society that’s come to expect food to be cheap needs to change.

“We need to be paying more for that food but in turn, expecting more from our farmers. I think we need to expect them to grow food sustainably, in a manner that is environmentally safe and also pay farm workers a fair wage.”

This means less reliance on chemicals and more on well-managed farms and well-paid labour, she said. In turn, food will cost more, but it will be more nutritious and provide a livable income for farmers.

No one said the shift would be easy.

Hamir believes government can play a role, namely to not permit any more land removal from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“We need every square inch of land to feed our growing population as it is,” she said.

She believes the city can help by providing access to land for young farmers and encouraging unused farmland to be put into production.

Said Hamir: “Perhaps when farmers are making more money growing food, they won’t be so inclined to get their nest egg from selling their land, which seems to be what’s happening now.”

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Plums in Syrup

Here's the first recipe we did at the canning workshops. For pictures, please see (Thanks Suanne for taking lovely pics):


Purple and prune plums are the most popular varieties for canning in syrup, but Damson and Greengage, or any meaty varieties, are also suitable. Remember that the plums will soften in processing.

3-5 pounds Plums
1 cup Granulated Sugar
2 1/2 cups Water

Prepare 6 250 ml jars, rings and lids: Wash in hot soapy water, and rinse well. Place lids in HOT, not boiling water, for 5 minutes before using. Do not heat rings. Heat jars in canning pot with hot water.

1. Combine water and sugar in medium saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Or, heat water in microwave until boiling, stir in sugar to dissolve. Heat to boiling again just before pouring syrup into jars.

2. Prick whole plums with a fork to break skins, or cut in half and remove pits. Pack plums snugly into jars, leaving 1/2” at the top of the jar. Ladle hot syrup over plums to cover, leaving 1/2” at the top of the jar. Remove airbubbles and add more syrup if needed. Wipe jar rim removing any stickiness. Centre SNAP Lid on jar; apply screw band JUST until resistance is met –fingertip tight. Do not overtighten. Place jar in canner; repeat for remaining plums.

3. Fill canner with hot water to cover jars by 1”.

4. Cover canner; bring water to a boil. Boil filled jars – 10 minutes. When processing
time is complete, turn heat off and remove canner lid. When boil subsides - bubbles no longer rise to surface (3 to 5 minutes) - remove jars without tilting. Cool jars upright, undisturbed 24 hours.

DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.

5. After cooling, check jar seals. Sealed lids curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place.

Karen Dar Woon
Your Secret Chef
604-329-7240 •

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Canning Dates

Since our previous dates sold out so quickly, the Richmond Food Security Society has agreed to put on some extra workshops on Food Preservation:

Tuesday, September 8th 7-9pm
Saturday, September 12, 1-3pm
Tuesday, September 15, 7-9pm

Classes are $5 each and will most likely concentrate on preserving the following produce: tomatoes, green tomatoes, and beets. Please bring canning jars, 250 ml or smaller, to replenish our supply. Each participant will go home with a jar of preserves.

For more information or to register, please e-mail or call (604) 727 9728.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Time Magazine's Article on Cheap Food

Probably the most hard-hitting article on the state of North America's food supply that I've seen yet. And, in of all places, mainstream Time Magazine!

Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won't bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He's fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he'll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population. And when the rains come, the excess fertilizer that coaxed so much corn from the ground will be washed into the Mississippi River and down into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will help kill fish for miles and miles around. That's the state of your bacon — circa 2009.

To read the whole article click here

Friday, August 14, 2009

Put that bounty away for the winter

If you are new to the idea of canning and preserving, come out to South Arm Community Center for the next 3 Fridays and learn how to can. Chef Karen Dar Woon will instruct participants on easy methods of canning, using excess fruit and veggies that are coming out of the garden.

Dates: August 21st, Sept 4, Sept 11
Time: 7-9pm
Location: Kitchen, South Arm Community Center
Cost: $5

Supplies will be provided but if you can, please bring canning jars to replenish our supply. Everyone will go home with a jar.

Please register for these sessions as the kitchen @ South Arm fits about 12 people max. Call (604) 727 9728 or e-mail

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chefs to the Field

Combine your passion for food with a very worthwhile cause. Join a couple thousand of your new friends at the 3rd Annual Chefs to the Field event at Terra Nova Rural Park this Sunday, August 9th from 11-3. Proceeds from the event go to the Terra Nova Schoolyard Society which educates over 500 kids every year on how to grow food.

Sample food from dozens of restaurants and then watch the Iron Chef competition in the afternoon. Wonder what the secret ingredient will be this year... last year it was sardines and the year before muskox.

For more information, click on

Friday, July 24, 2009

Guerilla Gardening

What a cool idea - perhaps for the land surrounding the tracks on Railway Ave?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Urban Gardens and Gardeners Wanted

Growing food in the city has never been so critical. Rural farms are disappearing and young people who want to get into growing food are having a hard time finding affordable land.

Backyard farming is one way to get around this. Many gardens in Richmond are sitting empty, waiting for someone to cultivate them.

If you are interested in knowing how to grow food in backyards, come out to O'Hare's Pub on the corner of Steveston Highway and Railway Ave on Tuesday, August 11th from 7pm on. We'll share drinks and conversation about the ins and outs of backyard farming. At about 8ish, we'll walk over next door and have a look at a newly converted backyard farm.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Launch of the 2009 Pocket Markets

Hurray for another season of local food. The Richmond Pocket Markets will be bringing an amazing selection of locally grown veggies (and soon breads) to a location near you:

Richmond Hospital 10-3
Saturdays: Richmond Cultural Center 10-2
Alternate Sundays: Gulf of Georgia Cannery (Steveston): 11-3

Hope to see you there.

For more coverage on the Pocket Markets, have a look at the article in the Richmond Review

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Greenhorns - so you wanna be a farmer?

What a crazy idea - leave the city (or sometimes not), grow food, and make a living!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Garlic scapes and putting food away

Arlene Kroeker's article in today's Richmond Review reminded me that my own garlic scapes needed to be harvested.

I love using the chopped up scapes in stir fries and soups but I had so many this year that I knew I wouldn't be able to use them all before they begin going off.

Luckily, Lise Batcheller, fermenting queen extraordinaire, showed me how to ferment veggies last year.

I had some left over liquid from last year's fermented cukes that I filled a jar about 1/4 way with.

I added layers of chopped scapes and grape leaves (you can use the leaves to make dolmades afterwards). Filled the jar to the top, added 2 Tbsp of kosher salt, and filled it with water. The final trick is to use a cut out from a margarine or yogurt tub to keep all the veggies under water and voila!

In a week, the scapes will be fermented and will sit in my fridge all year round, ready to use for the upcoming 10-mile-diet.

For anyone who is looking for scapes, Jose from JPS Greenhouse at Blundell and Sidaway has them right now as will the first Pocket Market at the Richmond Hospital on Friday, July 3rd.

Monday, June 22, 2009

July Classes

Backyard Chickens

Wondering what it takes to keep chickens in an average backyard? Come learn how to keep chickens safe and healthy with Heather Havens, Animal Scientist, who will instruct newbies on how to feed, house, and ensure good chicken health. Each participant will receive resources to take home including plans for chicken coops, sources of feed, and lists of veterinarians that treat chickens. Participants will also discuss local by-laws and how they relate to keeping backyard chickens

Date: Saturday, July 4th
Time: 9am- 12 pm
Place: Barn, Terra Nova Rural Park, 2631 Westminster Hwy
Cost: $30


Bee conservation is widely recognised now as crucial to a sustainable future. This class is an introduction to beescaping, the sustainable art and science of integrating bees into the living landscape. We’ll look at aspects of forage and nesting needs for both native bees and honeybees with an emphasis on bee health. Creating a variety of nesting material for native bees, the basics of keeping honeybees in an urban setting, bee wrangling and other hands-on activities will be offered. This class is suitable for horticulturalists, landscape designers, farmers and home gardeners alike.

Date: Saturday, July 18th
Time: 9am- 12 pm
Place: Barn, Terra Nova Rural Park, 2631 Westminster Hwy
Cost: $30

What can I plant now?

The gardening season isn't over! There's still plenty to plant and harvest to enable your garden to produce year-round. Learn how to select varieties of vegetables that are winter hardy and time their planting so as to produce through the fall and winter. Simple season extension techniques such as raised beds, row cover, cloches, and cold frames will be discussed and demonstrated. Participants will be able to go home with a couple of winter vegetable seedlings for their own gardens.

Date: Saturday, July 25th
Time: 9am- 12 pm
Place: Barn, Terra Nova Rural Park, 2631 Westminster Hwy
Cost: $30

To register for any of the above classes, or for more information, contact Arzeena Hamir or (778) 297-2202

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tractor 101 & Art of Hoeing

1. Tractor 101

Ever wanted to be behind the wheel of a tractor? Miles Smart of Cherry Lane farm will host a class in Tractor 101. Learn the basics of how to operate a 70’s era Ford 4000 from starting, stopping, and throttle, to clutch control and how to safely engage the PTO. Students will be able to practice driving the tractor and will get a demonstration of how to attach machinery (rotovator and subsoiler) . Participants must be over 18 and hold a valid driver’s license.

Cost: $30
Date: Saturday, June 20th
Time: 9am-12pm
Location: Cherry Lane Farm, 2511 No. 4 Rd (off Beckwith Rd, behind Costco)

2. The Art of Hoeing

Join Dr. Kent Mullinix in a hands-on class in the art of weed management & hoeing. Learn to identify weeds and do away with them quickly without breaking your back. Try out different types of hoes including a stir-up hoe and diamond hoe. For those who are interested, participants will also be able to try their hands at managing a rototiller.

Cost: $5 (Proceeds go to the Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project)
Date: Saturday, June 20th
Time: 12:30-2pm
Location: Terra Nova Sharing Farm, 2631 Westminster Hwy

Payment for the classes can be made on the day of but we do ask participants to pre-register by calling (778) 297 2202 or e-mailing to reserve a spot.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Some Deluxe Chicken Housing

Seen some great news about businesses in Vancouver cropping up to provide housing for all the city chickens.

Not to be outdone, we have an example of some superb housing here in Richmond.

Check out Anne & Jeff's skookum digs:

Still working on Richmond's by-law. Not giving up!
Summer School on Building Community

June 16 - 27, 2009

Langara College, 100 West 49 Avenue, Vancouver

Join us for an evening, a day, or for several days at the 2009 Summer School on Building Community. This is a true festival of learning: workshops, presentations, tours, dialogues, and films provide an array of opportunities to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the critical social and environmental issues of our day and to inspire you to take action. Activists also need to take care of themselves: check out our sessions on self-care and others that increase your effectiveness in your work and life.

Who Should Attend? Anyone who wants to build healthy, sustainable communities: community members, activists and those involved with nonprofits, unions, youth, aboriginal groups, government and busines

Workshops, Presentations, Tours, Dialogues, Films

Cultivating Food, Cultivating Neighbourhoods

Mad City Chickens: Coming to a Backyard Near You! (Film and discussion led by Heather Havens), Thursday, June 18, 7:30 – 9:30 pm By donation (60784)

Neighbourhood Food Networking (Ross Moster), Sunday, June 21, 1 – 3 pm No charge (60779)

Backyard Chickens 101 (Heather Havens), Monday, June 22, 7:30-9:30 pm By Donation (60785)

How to Create a Village in a City (Ross Moster), Thursday, June 25, 7:30 – 9:30 pm By Donation (60780)

Fork in the Road: Cultivating Food and Community in Local Neighbourhoods (Adam Ward), Friday, June 26, 6:30 – 9:30 pm and Saturday, June 27, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. $50 (60771)

Transition to Sustainability

Green Skins – Green Roofs, Green Facades and Green Streets Research in Vancouver (Daniel Roehr), Wednesday, June 17, 3:30 – 5 pm By Donation (60774)

Training for Transition: from fossil fuel dependence to resilience (Michelle Colussi and Bill Aal), Friday-Saturday, June 19-20, 9 am – 5 pm $195 (60770)

A Virtual Visit of Urban Sustainability in Europe (Emmanuel Prinet), Tuesday, June 23, 7:30 – 9 pm By donation (60782)

Overshoot: Human Enterprise and Natural Law (Rex Wyler) Wednesday, June 24, Noon – 1:30 pm By donation (60791)

The Art of Building Community

Embracing Creativity: How to Rediscover Your Creative DNA (Dolly Hopkins & Lee-Anne Ragan), Thursday, June 18, 10 am – 5 pm. $125 (60757)

Beauty in Destruction: Environmental Art Practice in Stanley Park (Beth Carruthers, Alicia Horner, Stanley Park Ecology Society volunteers) Friday, June 19, 9:30 am – 5 pm Meet at Stanley Park Dining Pavillion, 2nd Floor. Bring your lunch. No charge (60778)

Sacred Circle Dance (led by New England dance teacher, Ashara Stansfield). Friday, June 19, 7:30 – 9:30 pm. Unitarian Centre, 949 West 49 Avenue. By donation (60795)

Facilitating a Creative, Sustainable Community – Art, people and the environment (Carmen Rosen, Sharon Kallis)Tuesday, June 23, 6:30 – 9 pm. Meet at Renfrew Community Centre. No charge (60772)
Social Action

Help Slay the Waste Incinerators! (Presented by Zero Waste Vancouver, Douw Steyn & Monica Kosmak), Wednesday, June 17, 7:30 – 9:30 pm, SPEC House, 2150 Maple Street. No charge (60783)

Effective Social Change through Nonviolent Communication (Raj Gill & Leslie Kemp), Tuesday, June 23, 9 am – 4 pm $100 (60781)

Taking a Stand: A Walking Tour of the Little Mountain Housing Community (Ingrid Steenhuisen), 3 tours (By donation)
Saturday, June 20, 3 – 5 pm (60792)
Sunday, June 21, 3 – 5 pm (60793)
Tuesday, June 23, 3 – 5 pm (60794)


Introduction to Nonviolent Communication (Raj Gill), Tuesday, June 16, 9 am – 4 pm $100 (60775)

Beyond the Bubble Bath: Self Care Beginning with “No” (Shayna Hornstein), Wednesday, June 17, 9 am – 1 pm $75 (60776)

Too Much to Do & Not Enough of You: Strengthening our Boundaries (Shayna Hornstein), Thursday, June 25, 9 am – 1 pm $75 (60777)

Register by phone: 604-323-5322
For further information contact: Leslie Kemp at 604-323-5981

Co-sponsored by

Langara College Continuing Studies in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Community Renewal, Community Arts Council of Vancouver, Village Vancouver and Zero Waste Vancouver

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Growing Food 101

Yearning to grow your own veggies? Would you like to try a Zero Mile Diet but don't know where to start? Learn all the basics with Glen Valley Organic Farm's John Switzer and a variety of organic growing experts.

Food Growing 101 is a 12-week intensive course that covers all the bases - soils, plants, weeds, pests, chickens, bees, and season extension. Classes are held on Saturdays at the award-winning Terra Nova Sharing Farm. More than 50% of the class will be held outdoors where students will get hands-on practical experience.

Please contact for more details.

Or click here to have a look at the brochure

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A New Community Garden for Garratt Wellness Center

With the help of the City of Richmond, Garratt Wellness Center, and a band of dedicated volunteers, a new community garden has been installed in Richmond.

The Garratt Garden is a 20-bed community garden located at 7504 Chelsea Place (near No. 2 Rd and Blundell)

Gardeners first heard about the different systems of community gardens that are in place in Vancouver and at Colony Farm Community Garden.

After a wonderful lunch, the gardeners got going and helped move the bark mulch and soil to finish off the garden.

Many thanks to everyone who helped make this a reality!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bees Bath & Beyond

Make your garden bee-friendly – Bee master Brian Campbell is in Lindsay’s kitchen to show you how to make bees – our most important pollinators – feel welcome. Go here for step-by-step instructions on how to craft three easy bee houses and a bee bath.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fruit Trees & Bees

Fruit Tree Grafting

Learn to graft your own heritage dwarf apple tree. These small size trees are suitable for growing in pots on balconies or in small back yards. From theory to hands-on, several grafting methods will be demonstrated and practiced. A wide choice of apple varieties will be available to choose from so you can graft the tree you want. Bring a very sharp knife. Participants take home the tree they grafted.

Date: Saturday, April 4 th
Time: 10am-12pm
Place: Barn, Terra Nova Rural Park
Cost: $12
Instructor: Brian Campbell

For more information or to register, please contact Arzeena Hamir at

Orchard Mason Bee Houses

Discover the joys of keeping Orchard mason bees. These important native and solitary pollinators of fruit trees are gentle and hesitant to sting, making them ideal for children and families to work with. We’ll explore their life cycle with forage and habitat requirements in the context of successfully creating a home for these charming native bees. Nesting types that can be made at home will be demonstrated. Materials to make your own nest will be provided.

Date: Saturday, February 28th
Time: 1pm-3pm
Place: Barn, Terra Nova Rural Park
Cost: $15
Instructor: Brian Campbell

E-mail or contact Arzeena Hamir at to register

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shorewood chickens

A post from Heather Havens:

I am from a village called Shorewood, inside of the city of Milwaukee WI, both of which are trying to legalize backyard chickens. Shorewood's efforts were started by a very awesome young girl names Carenna. A group has gathered around her to help make this happen, and they are doing a fantastic job. They go to the council again tomorrow, and this is a presentation that they made for that appointment tomorrow (they went to Madison WI, home of Mad City Chickens to take pictures and get interviews). I was so proud, and thought it was so nice (and persuasive), that I couldn't help but share it with you

Click here to view the pdf

Friday, February 20, 2009

Get Cracking in Your Backyard

The idea of being able to raise chickens in backyards in Richmond has certainly spread. The Richmond News has recently posted an article and we would love to create some dialogue around this issue.

See the whole article here.

Photo by Chung Chow/Richmond News

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Build Your Own Seedling Rack

At the Sharing Farm in Terra Nova, we start a number of seedlings and now that we have access to a work room with electricity, we've decided to set up a seeding area. Karen H., our Greenhouse Social Club Coordinator built these seed racks with the help of her hubby.

Here are her instructions and pics:

Based on the grow racks at

Construction Material

2x4 4 pieces 5 ft
2x4 6 pieces 2 ft
2x3 6 pieces 4 ft
3 sheets 1/2 inch plywood, cut 2 ft x 4 ft
2 lengths of 5 ft 2 inch chain
3 dowels, 4 ft long
4 casters, 3 in diameter
6 flat headed nails (3 inch)
1 box screws (2 - 3 inch long) 3 T8 4 ft utility light fixtures

Other Supplies:

6 32W cool spectrum light bulbs
3 heat mats, 20 in x 48 in
1 power bar (with timer)
1 extension cord

Step 1: Lay the 2x4's on the ground, making 2 rectangles. Screw together (use 2 screws at each joint).

Step 2: You’ll need an extra pair of hands to put your frame together. First, mark the placement of the shelves. We chose to make the lowest shelf have the most growing space, the top shelf the least. Stand up the two end rectangles. Starting with the bottom shelf support, screw two of the 2x3 pieces onto the bottom of the frame. Then, add the middle and top shelf supports.

Step 3: Turn your grow rack upside down. Screw the last two pieces of 2x3’s to the bottom of the frame along side the other 2x3’s to provide a larger base for your casters. Attach the casters. Two of our casters have brakes, to avoid unnecessary runaway plants. You might just want to skip the whole wheel thing if you have a permanent home for your grow rack, but you should use the extra bracing.

Step 4: Turn your rack over. It’ll feel a bit flimsy until you put in your shelving. We chose ½ inch plywood. If you had your plywood cut at your local store, you may need to do some trimming. Don’t screw your plywood in place, you may want to grow really tall plants one day.

Install the chain at each end of the rack, using smaller screws. Your lights will hang on dowels which will hook on to these chains. Todd is hammering in 3 inch long nails to the ends of the dowels. The flat head of the nails will fit nicely onto the chains.

Step 5:
Attach your power bar to the top of the frame. We found a nifty power bar with built-in timer. Four of the plugs operate by switch (for the heat mats) and four operate on the timer (for the lights). Hang your lights. We chose 4 ft long utility lights with an 11 inch reflector, to get the most light for our buck. These are T8 units, running on 32 W cool spectrum bulbs. Place your heat mats on the shelves. Plug everything in and you’re ready to go!

More Chickens in the City

Wow, the buzz around chickens is really starting to grow. Jeff Nield sent this link to a previous article he had written for the Vancouver Courier. Sounds like quite a few people are raising chickens on the "down low" in Vancouver.

Playing chicken

Jeff Nield, Vancouver Courier
Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009

From curbside on a brisk autumn morning on a quiet Mount Pleasant block just west of Main Street, a neatly kept house gives no hint that illegal activity is taking place out back. But, in a city rife with well concealed grow-ops, local residents know that looks can be deceiving. Mary, the retired owner of the property, is as non-threatening as her house, and on first impression she wouldn't fit anyone's stereotype of a lawbreaker.

With a conspiratorial air, she motions to the backyard and introduces Beatrice and Ophelia, the two heritage chickens she raises in her backyard in clear violation of the City of Vancouver's animal control bylaw. The bylaw reads, in part, that a person must not keep in any area, temporarily or permanently, any horses, donkeys, cattle, swine, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, pheasants, quail, or other poultry or fowl.

"I would prefer to have the chickens legally rather than flying under the radar as I do now," says Mary from her south facing backyard. "I'd miss them terribly if I had to give them up."

To read the full article, click here

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chickens in the City

Mark your calendars for February 28th. Heather Havens is going to teach us how to keep chickens in the city. Heather was recently featured in an article in the Vancouver Sun (see below).

Date: Saturday, February 28th
Time: 9am-12pm
Place: Barn @ Terra Nova Rural Park, 2631 Westminster Hwy
Cost: $25

Bring pen and paper for notes. Snacks will be served. For more information, please contact Arzeena Hamir, or call (604) 727 9728.

The lowly chicken may get its day in urban Vancouver

By Nicholas Read, Vancouver Sun January 27, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wendell Berry's New Years Resolution

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Wendell Berry for Edible Brooklyn Magazine.

What can "City Folk" do to support local farmers and the food security movement?

1. Participate in food production to the extent that you can. If
you have a yard or even just a porch box or a pot in a sunny win-
dow, grow something to eat in it. Make a little compost of your
kitchen scraps and use it for fertilizer. Only by growing some food
for yourself can you become acquainted with the beautiful energy
cycle that revolves from soil to seed to flower to fruit to food to
offal to decay, and around again. You will be fully responsible for
any food that you grow for yourself, and you will know all about it.
You will appreciate it fully, having known it all its life.

2. Prepare your own food. This means reviving in your own
mind and life the arts of kitchen and household. This should
enable you to eat more cheaply, and will give you a measure of
“quality control.”

3. Learn the origins of the food you buy, and buy the food that
is produced closest to your home. The idea that every locality
should be, as much as possible, the source of its own food makes
several kinds of sense. The locally produced food supply is the most
secure, freshest and the easiest for local consumers to know about
and to influence.

4. Whenever possible, deal directly with a local farmer, gardener
or orchardist
. All the reasons listed for the previous suggestion
apply here. In addition, by such dealing you eliminate the whole
pack of merchants, transporters, processors, packagers and advertis-
ers who thrive at the expense of both producers and consumers.

5. Learn, in self-defense, as much as you can of the economy and
technology of industrial food production
. What is added to the
food that is not food, and what do you pay for those additions?

6. Learn what is involved in the best farming and gardening.

7. Learn as much as you can, by direct observation and experi-
ence if possible, of the life histories of the food species.

The full article can be downloaded here

Richmond's First Seedy Saturday

Time to start thinking about seed & spring. If you're like me, you've got few (okay, more than a few) packets of seed hanging around. Gather them up and bring them out to Terra Nova on March 7th from 10am to 12 pm for Richmond's First Seedy Saturday Event.

We'll have seed exchange tables where you can put down your unwanted seed and take other packets. The Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project will be sharpening tools as a fundraiser and there will be honey and Orchard Mason Bee products to purchase.

Save the date!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Renovating Older Fruit Trees

On January 17th, a group of individuals braved the thick fog to learn how to renovate older fruit trees from Dr. Kent Mullinix of Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

We had lots to learn and a wonderful apple tree to work with at London Farm.

Here's a bit of what we learned:

Fruit trees, especially apples & pears have a tendency to produce fruit way up high, on the outer edges of the canopy where sunlight reaches the leaves. This creates a virtual "dead zone" in the middle of the tree where sunlight can't get through and where not fruit are produced.

Tree Before
- Lots of big wood and branches that cross over each other

Three reasons to prune mature trees

1. Increase sunlight interception and movement through the canopy. Big wood can intercept a large % of sunlight and does nothing for fruit production.

2. Provide ease of operation - being able to pick lower down and get ladders into the tree.

3. Stimulate new growth

There are primarily two kinds of cuts

Heading cuts - cutting into a stem, usually into new season growth, between nodes which stimulates bud breakage and new growth

Thinning cuts - pruning a branch back to its source which is done primarily to allow more light to come through or to get rid of a branch that is growing in the wrong direction or shading other branches.

Single Leader Pruning

We used this system on the tree at London farm so that each branch had just one leader and the ones left were less vigorous, fruiting branches

Tree after - a big change but one that will stimulate new growth

Tip: Try to make sure no branch is less than 3 ft from the one above or below so that they aren't competing for light.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Terra Nova Schoolyard Society featured on City Farmer website

Richmond's Ian Lai was featured on a recent addition to City Farmer's website at

Children who participate in the project get to plant wheat, spelt and other grains, tend the plants through the summer, and then harvest in the fall. After threshing the grains, they are now able to make their own loaves of bread.

Watch Growing Grains in the City - kids learn to make bread in How to Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Aboriginal Garden in Richmond?

Wouldn't it be great to have a program like this for the aboriginal community here in Richmond?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gardening with no Garden

Here's a great video from a couple on Vancouver Island who converted their front lawn into a veggie garden without digging. I love the fact that they had no garden tools and that the wife was 7 months pregnant while doing it.

(Nothing But) Flowers

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Renovating Older Fruit Trees

Join Dr. Kent Mullinix from Kwantlen Polytechnic University on the topic of "Renovating Older Fruit Trees"

Date: Saturday, January 17th
Time: 10am - 12pm
Place: London Heritage Farm, 6511 Dyke Rd
Cost: $5

MapLink: London Farm

Participants will learn about the techniques to bring older fruit trees back into production and will be able to practice on some of the heritage trees at London Farm.

To register, please e-mail Arzeena at foodsecurity(at)

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Food Security Primer - Japanese Style

Here's a great animated clip explaining many of the issues around food security:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A New Year... A New Society

The Richmond Food Security Task Force has now evolved into the Richmond Food Security Society. We are all very excited about the year ahead with plans underway to run another series of Pocket Markets as well as food preservation workshops in the community. We'll keep you posted!!