Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Hey, the Farmhouse isn’t alone in unfair persecution by city officials!

What constitutes a “natural” garden to the City of Toronto?

Grass, apparently. Just grass. Plus, perhaps a few flowers. But certainly not vegetables.

That’s what Sylvie and Vic Oliveira discovered this summer after they turned their Bloor West Village front yard into a vegetable garden.

Read the whole story here: The real dirt: City squashes front yard veggie plot


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The Garden is the unflinching look at the struggle between urban farmers and the City of Los Angeles and a powerful developer who wants to evict them and build warehouses. Mostly immigrants from Latin American countries where they feared for their lives if they were to speak out, we watch them organize, fight back, and demand, “Where is our ‘Justice for all’?”

Thanks to Siobhan for the heads up on this film. I really want to check it out. Kind of makes me want to do a Farmhouse documentary … well, if I knew anything at all about filmmaking!

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Ah, yes. I’m being negligent again about the blog. But I’ve got lots for all you animals today!

First up, Rin was featured in the Powell River Peak this week!

There’s a new farmer in town and she’s uber urban. Rin Innes is offering the community seasonal shares of her urban farm harvest. With pre-season commitments she plans and plants to fill members’ weekly bins with fresh, organically grown produce through the entire harvest season. Everybody wins and everybody eats.

This quote is also from the article. Keep it in mind. It’s entirely relevant to the next part of this blog post today.

Innes believes healthy communities need healthy farms. Aside from the obvious benefits of eating locally-grown food, such as freshness, taste, nutrition and the knowledge that the food has not been sprayed, irradiated, waxed and transported great distances, she believes that when people make a direct connection to their food they build strength in their community. Supporting farmers means stronger food security… [emphasis mine]

Got it? Good. Hold it in your mind, then read on.


So, there’s a lot of stuff going on at the Farmhouse right now. I’m too weary of the subject to get into all the details, so here’s the gist: Neighbours complain about the state of the yard. Neighbours call city. Bylaw enforcement office threatens us with a huge fine if it’s not cleaned up by May 1.

But … it’s a GARDEN. We grow FOOD. It disgusts me that Vancouver touts itself as some sort of green leader—a model of sustainability—but as soon as someone tries to live that way, it gets shut down for being an eyesore.

Seriously, the rhodo is beautiful. I suppose if we planted only flowers our neighbours would be okay with it?

New smoking area. I'll concede we need to move that pile of bricks.

This? Gorgeous! But it's within two feet of the sidewalk so it's got to be moved. Ooh, and I should sweep the sidewalk and tidy all that up.

As Ander put it: 'If the city bylaw says all yards must conform to the prevailing standards of the neighborhood, and your neighbors all have square, manicured lawns, then it is simply not possible to grow your own food in most parts of Vancouver.' I'd like to point out that the house to the left of us currently has nothing but dirt in their front yard. And the yard beyond that gets covered in chemicals on a semi-regular basis.

I just don't see how anyone can find this ugly.

A bed all ready to be planted.

See, we use the leaves for mulch. Like in a forest. It's called permaculture; look it up.

One of the complaints levelled at us was that we have a number of plastic buckets laying around. Guess what's in them.


Two feet. We've got to move the garden two feet from the sidewalk. Also, the boulevard can't be planted without city approval. Apparently.

The city also complained about the palettes we have laying around. You know what we're using them for? Firewood and building compost bins.

Oh, look. More buckets full of dirt! And that tarp? Covering more palettes. Aren't we just the worst?

All I know is that Garden Buddha is not amused.

I don’t want to direct my anger towards all of my neighbours, since it seems like the majority are supportive of the garden. We have lots of curious people stopping by and asking about what’s going on. Despite a language barrier, an older man was trying to give Max gardening tips last week. One of our neighbours thinks we are awesome because we drink and play guitar on our porch sometimes. And several have been open to Ander’s idea for a block party.

Here’s to hoping we can do some serious community building in the face of opposition.

Since there are some things that must be done for us to avoid this fine ($250 minimum, up to $2000 plus an additional $50 each day past May 1 that we don’t “adhere to the prevailing standards”), we are having a yarden work party on Saturday. We’re going to clean up what we can, collect mulch and woodchips, clean out the garage, and whatever other yardening that needs to be done. Feel free to stop by our little hippie house to lend a hand or just to chat. We can’t pay you but there will be beer to drink!

Location: The Farmhouse (470 E. 56th Avenue)
Date: Saturday, April 24
Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


And now some links.

1. Urban seeds promote more genetic diversity and City of Vancouver aids the planet by collecting food scraps—a couple of excellent articles from the Georgia Straight‘s Earth Day issue.

2. Photo gallery: 420 marijuana celebration in Vancouver—a bunch of photos I took at the 420 rally on Tuesday. Yes, I’m an egomaniac. Now go look at my pretty pictures! I also wrote this: Vancouver’s 420 rally sees thousands gather for marijuana. Read it too.

3. Edible Geography—all sorts of interesting facts and history about food in interesting locations.

4. And thanks to the magic of WordPress, I found this blog: Fairview Gardens CSA, a community supported agriculture project in California. The recipes are making me drool right now. Also, they’ve got a killer blog layout ;)

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Oops, missed the links last week. Did anyone notice? The stats for this here blog say … NO. I missed them, though. And I have lots this week!


First, a Farmhouse update.

Our intrepid Ander wants to be in a marching band. However, because his ukulele is not quite loud enough to hold its own against the loud brass and drums, he is now the proud owner of a glockenspiel! (Well, technically a portable glock is called a bell lyre.) Made of solid metal, it just needs a strap so Ander can carry it and play at the same time. I’m super excited about it!


It looks pretty much like this. Because my camera batteries are dead, I'm stealing, er, borrowing photos from the Internets.


Other than that, I really have no idea what’s going on at the house. All I know is that several of the roomies seem to have lives (what’s up with that?) and have been spending days at a time away from the house. Me? I’m a big dork and tend to spend my evenings sitting in my room, watching things like the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice and tweeting about it. That Mr. Darcy, he’s intoxicatingly arrogant.

By the way, if you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, do yourself a favour and pick it up. Too funny for words.


And now I have scads and scads of links!


La Vida Locavore, a blog about sustainable living and local food. Be sure to check out the “Recent Diaries” feed on the right-hand side of the page; lots of good discussion and sharing going on.


Hyperlocavore: Billing itself as “A Free Yard Sharing Community”, this site helps connect those desiring to grow food with those who have space. Unfortunately, the Vancouver network isn’t very active. However, on the local level, check out Sharing Backyards, a Vancouver-based network. The Farmhouse isn’t listed (we’re managing our own garden … somehow) but there are lots of people looking for gardens of their own, especially residents in the downtown core.


I’m totally stupid for not writing about this before! Fresh Roots is a Vancouver community supported agriculture program happening right now in East Van. You buy in ($650 for 22 weeks) and, beginning in May, you get a box of food every Thursday from a local backyard! Give them a call at 778-862-FARM or visit the site and download the application form. (They’re all super wonderful people, and I’m not just saying that because I know them!)


In news: B.C. apple growers are feeling the economic pinch and are only able to sell their produce for 12 cents a pound to wholesalers, which is terrible when you consider it costs 22 cents a pound to grow them in the first place. The arrogance of the headline irks me to no end, though: “B.C. apple growers in crisis. Should we care?”

Um, why is that even a question? The only way we’ll have food security is if we give a damn about where our food is coming from. And that starts by giving local growers all the support we can! (Sense a theme in today’s post?)


A recent court case has blocked Home on the Range, a Chilliwack-based farm from distributing raw milk—even thought they are distributing it within the letter of the law, which includes putting labels on the bottles warning against human consumption. The farmowners have until April 19 to appeal the decision.


And in more milk news, a recent study has found that if most infants are breastfed for at least the first six months of their lives, nearly a thousand infant deaths could be prevented each year in the United States. To which I say: “NO SHIT”. Seriously, you needed a study to prove that?

The report also highlights that tens of billions of dollars would be saved as well—because obviously it all comes down to money. Oh, and that doesn’t include the money new moms would stop spending on formula.

Is anyone else boggled at how often the solution to the problem is the one that countless people have been using for thousands of years? Want healthy babies? Breastfeed them. Want healthy food? Grow it yourself. Want a non-polluting mode of transport? Walk.


Yes, yes. I’m over-simplifying and ranting now. So often this is what happens to me. Maybe I should change my name to MiRANTa? (Har har har.)

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So, I’m in the kitchen of the Farmhouse right now with a slowly growing group of cohorts for a night of dinner and music in celebration of the equinox and, you know, life in general. We just talked to our beloved former roomie Caterina, who’s chillin’ out in California right now. Rin’s going to visit her soon-ish and I’m extra jealous. She promised to give the Goose lots of pets for me!

All’s well in Farmhouse land. There are little plantings growing in the yard, despite the horribly unseasonable snow that seems to keep falling in our fair city. Rin planted some mushrooms today (a first for her) and a perfectly timed thunderstorm watered the patch after. I picked some chickweed and corn salad for dinner and it always amazes me that food grows out of the ground. I’m so accustom to foraging for food at the grocery store that when it comes from my own yard, I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Miracle in action, obviously.

Mmm, fennel is getting roasted and Margaret has affixed bells to her hat. I see Margaret scooping tahini and Rin is making something; she informs us that she’s just making it up as she goes along. I just show up and eat. I’m also a world-class stirrer.

Alright, it’s time that I stop being an antisocial crab and maybe play some bass? I’ve got a new (and unnamed) acoustic bass to play and many ridiculous songs to sing. Happy equinox!

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I’ve been totally bereft in my blogging duties … for shame! In order to make up for it, here are a bunch of photos from Ander.

First, the food:

Mmm, creeps … I mean, crepes. Thanks Rin!

Creamy tomato soup made by Margot.

I don’t know who made these but I want to eat about a million of them.

A tasty plate of Rin’s rolls.

Now, the garden:


Aren’t the fava beans amazing?

Peas please!

Picking the garden abundance should always be done in gumboots.

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Pre-yard sale:

During yard sale (including some hot legs in hot shoes!):

Obligatory food pictures:

Some more candid shots:

All photos courtesy of Ander.

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