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1978 Article: Be a Farmer in the Centre of the City

Thursday, November 3, 2016 13:03
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The first issue of City Farmer newspaper was published in August 1978.

City Farmer, the brainchild of the Vancouver Community Conservation Centre, is aimed at promoting urban agriculture as a means of saving energy and money for city dwellers.

By Bill Tieleman
Vancouver Sun
August 2, 1978

The high price of food has city residents trading in their riding lawnmowers for rototillers and turning to backyard farming, according to a new monthly Vancouver newspaper.
City Farmer, the brainchild of the Vancouver Community Conservation Centre, is aimed at promoting urban agriculture as a means of saving energy and money for city dwellers.

It offers advice on how to “get back to the land” found in your own backyard.

Michael Levenston, a centre staff member, say the newspaper will attempt to change concepts of how land can be used by encouraging the development of productive gardens in place of lawns.

“City people think of food as something in supermarkets and restaurants,” he says.

They don’t think of themselves as farmers.

“What we’d like to do is change the city-lawn mentality to a food-producing mentality.”

The newspaper’s first issue has a press run of 2,000 copies but centre staffers believe the circulation will increase for the September issue because of favorable response.

City Farmer is being run on a break-even basis.
Levenston said the newspaper, which is to be sold at corner stores, health food stores, nurseries and community centres, is the first of its kind and that there are enough farmers in the city to ensure reasonable sales.

The first issue has stories on a wide variety of urban agriculture topics, ranging from an interview with “Mr. X”, an illegal beekeeper who gets 400 pounds of honey from the 10,000 bees in his Vancouver backyard, to hydroponic gardening, a method of growing plants without soil.

The eight-page newspaper also has articles on allotment garden programs in the city, the Second World War practice in Canada of developing backyard “Victory Gardens,” and Vancouver citizens who ignore city bylaws by keeping food-producing animals such as chickens.

Writer Kerry Banks says that Vancouver is the ideal city to launch this type of newspaper in because its climate enables urban agriculturists to grow vegetables throughout the year.

Banks said there are many residents who have been city farmers for years but that the practice is becoming more and more popular as the price of produce increases.

And with predictions that California, now the top competitor for local producers, will become a net importer of food by 1985, beginning a new garden now is the best way to ensure a cheap, plentiful supply of fruits and vegetables, he said.

Anyone interested‘ in more information on the City Farmer or on conservation programs run by the centre, which will close at the end of August, should drop by their offices at 612 East Broadway.


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