As cities become denser and food prices continue to rise, urban agriculture is a crucial element for happy people and healthy cities.
One of the projects on the Elevated Lab involves a collaboration with the head chefs of BCIT campus. Just as they are interested in growing fresh produce and herbs for their Friday menus, we are interested in making that happen on a roof that has minimal loading capacity. This is unfolding as this blog post is written, so stay tuned to see how it unfolds!
In the meantime, Christine gave an interview with CKNW about the Future of Farming, as part of their series on the Future of Work. Listen to it here.
In 2003, Vancouver City Council called for a just and sustainable food system, which led to the Vancouver Food Policy Council. Since then, Vancouver’s food policies and programs have taken root and flourished. The Vancouver Food Strategy is the City’s tool for meeting social, environmental, economic, and health goals. Some of the big milestones since 2003 include:
- Guidelines for urban beekeeping (2005)
- Vancouver Food Charter (2007)
- Urban agriculture design guidelines for the private realm (2009)
- Greenest City grants in support of urban agriculture (2009-2011)
- Grants to support neighbourhood food networks (2009-2012)
- 2010 Garden Plots by 2010 Initiative (2010)
- Guidelines for keeping backyard hens (2010)
- Food scraps collection program (2010)
- Intermit Farmers Market policy (2010)
- Street food program expansion (2010-2012)
- Greenest City Action Plan Local Food Area (2011)
- Grant to support urban farming (2011)
Both the Vancouver Food Charter and the Greenest City Action Plan call for a coordinated food strategy. Indeed, Goal No. 10 of the ‘Greenest City Action Plan’ calls for Vancouver to become a global leader in urban food systems. The overall local food target is to increase city and neighbourhood food assets — community gardens, urban farms, farmers markets, food processing infrastructure, community composting facilities, neighbourhood food networks — by 50% by 2020.
One of the first green roofs in downtown Vancouver, at Fairmont Waterfront, is in fact a roof garden. Since 1996, the ARC Restaurant has been growing herbs, vegetables, fruits and edible blossoms for their menus. Everything is organic. In addition to herbs like rosemary, lavender, bay leaves, and tarragon, the 2100 square foot garden grows garlic, kale, leeks, rainbow chard, carrots, peppers, green onions, strawberries, pumpkins and apples. Since 2008, the garden also hosts honeybees. Since 2015, this has grown to include four beehives with over 250,000 honeybees producing 125 lbs of honey on site.