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Posts Tagged ‘greenwash’

Hello beautiful community!

First, a quick note. News 1130 contacted me last night about the imminent destruction of our yard. The story is currently the most popular story on the site! Thank you so much to Graham for putting them in touch with me and to Renee for writing the article.

Also, there has been an incredible outpouring of support for our yard from the general community. So many people have let me know they are writing letters to council in favour of our project. I really couldn’t have imagined so much support and encouragement from Vancouver residents. It’s really helping during this tough time. Thank you and many Farmhouse blessings to each and everyone one of you who has taken the time to write to the City and passed our story around!

 

Sara, Ander, and I met with Mrs. Carlene Robbins, manager of the Property Use Inspection branch and Property Use Inspector Tom Hamilton this morning. There were many things said, the most important of which is that we have until May 15 to get the yard together. Wouldn’t concede us an inch on planting the boulevard (“It’s City land! Who said you could use it?”).

This is growing just in the space between the sidewalk and the street in July 2009. We were growing borage, kale, and poppies. The dandelions we used for tea.

The City says it has had three neighbours complain over the last two years (two complaints this year, two complaints last year, with one was a repeat complaint. Part of the City’s “evidence” were photos of our yard from last summer. Remember when it was really dry and most yards were dying? We put straw and other materials over the soil in our yard to keep moisture in (permaculture!) so our plants wouldn’t die. Yep, taking photos during the driest part of the year is surely going to include a little ugly. And it’s funny that the city’s photos don’t match the photos I took myself during that time.

The other photos the City presented us with were from March. MARCH. It’s not March anymore! We’ve done a lot of work on the garden in the last week! You can’t use old pictures from the off-season against us.

This weekend, we collect over a page worth of signatures (I’m guessing at least 20) from residents of the block who are all in support of our yard. Why does the word of three complainants outweigh the rest?

When asked if she would speak directly to the five points contained in the legal notice we received, Mrs. Robbins completely refused, stating she “isn’t going to plan [our] yard for us”. Then she said if we built a fence two feet into our yard, we’d be free to do whatever we want within the confines. Um, how is that fair? You think we can afford a fence? She also pointed out the container garden at City Hall.

“Why can’t you make your yard look like that?” she asked. Maybe because we don’t have thousands of dollars for pressure treated lumber, an in-ground irrigation system, and fancy plaques delineating what garden belongs to whom? Part of the reason we grow our own food is because we are POOR!

Mrs. Robbins admitted to us that if we lived on Commercial Drive, our yard wouldn’t be an issue. Hypocrisy, hello? I asked her why she didn’t see the larger issue at stake—a vaguely worded bylaw that is selectively applied to a subjective notion of beauty and order. She asked me why I was continuing to be argumentative.

Why am I argumentative? Because it isn’t fair. We can’t afford to live on Commercial Drive. We can’t afford to build container gardens. In fact, we don’t want container gardens because we think they are ugly. Plants grow better in a natural state. You put different kinds of plants together for support, to improve the soil, to mimic the natural growing system. Most of our supplies are donated. We have to haul a wheelbarrow eight blocks roundtrip to get free woodchips. We had wonderful people donate their time and energy to help us last weekend. This is not a money-making enterprise. This is about food security. This is about food as a right. This is about a hypocritical city that brands itself as some sort of green leader yet won’t support five hippies who want grow their own food.

So much irony is coming out of this process. The City of Vancouver has
Guidelines for Planting City Boulevards
program where residents are ENCOURAGED to use the boulevard for planting!

 

Planning to Plant

* There must be reasonable pedestrian access between the curb and the sidewalk. If there is no City sidewalk, access must be provided so pedestrians are not forced to walk on the road.
* Plants should be perennials or shrubs that will grow less than one metre (3′ 3″) in height to ensure good sight lines.
* Several of the plants should be evergreen or have winter interest for those months when the rest of the plants are dormant.
* Contaminants from the roadway may affect consumables, therefore vegetable gardening is not encouraged.
* No trees are allowed other than City-planted street trees.
* No structures or ornaments are allowed since they can interfere with public safety and the City’s ability to quickly access underground services.
* Permanent installations such as in-ground irrigation systems are not permitted.
* Plants should be set back at least 30 cm (12″) from a) the sidewalk to avoid overgrowth and b) the curb to allow for car door opening.
* Fire hydrants must be easily visible and accessible from both the street and the sidewalk. A clearance of 1.5m (5’) must be maintained around hydrants for access, visibility and to ensure that plants do not interfere with the operation of the hydrant. Outside of the Fire Department, Waterworks and Sewers staff use the water from hydrants for a number of purposes.

 

I can totally 100 percent get behind those guidelines. Last weekend’s work project was all about getting the boulevard presentable. Nowhere on that Web page does it say you need City permission to grow anything in the boulevard.

But the extension is a goodness. The legal notice we were served is dated April 15 but we didn’t receive it until April 19. There goes one weekend. May 1 is Saturday. There goes another weekend. So, with the May 15 extension, we get two more weekends to get things together.

Here is a list of e-mail addresses for Vancouver city councillors if you have the desire to lodge your opposition to the city (via Christina).

clrreimer@vancouver.ca

mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca

clrdeal@vancouver.ca

clrcadman@vancouver.ca

Gregor.Robertson@vancouver.ca

clranton@vancouver.ca

clrchow@vancouver.ca

clrjang@vancouver.ca

clrlouie@vancouver.ca

clrmeggs@vancouver.ca

clrstevenson@vancouver.ca

clrwoodsworth@vancouver.ca

 

Also, if anyone wants to contact the Farmhouse about this, please call 604-628-9509 (the house), 604-762-6557 (my cell), or e-mail farmhousepress@gmail.com.

We love you!

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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.

DIRT!

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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Hey hey, it’s a Tuesday!

 

Let’s start with an incredibly bizarre slant on something near and dear to my heart.

From the New York Times: The Femivore’s Dilemma: “Femivorism is grounded in the very principles of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment that drove women into the work force in the first place.”

So, women choose to go back to the land to have some autonomy over how and what they eat … and that’s anti-feminist? I also love that the writer—a woman—deigns to call women making the choice to raise chickens “chicks with chicks”. Way to fail.

Among the many problems with this article? The term femivore, which sounds like someone who eats women. (That was pointed out in this article: The Biotic Woman: What the Hell is a Femivore?)

A response to the article: I’m a “femivore” and I’m having a dilemma.

There was a lot of rage in the ol’ blogosphere about this article. If you’ve got time, Google some of the many well thought out responses.

For extra fun, here’s a Globe and Mail article about the same issue, except it focuses on stay-at-home dads.

 

Are ecofriendly products to blame for Vancouver’s unfriendly people? A new study examines how buying green products affects attitudes.

 

An oldie but a goodie: Dr. Gabor Maté takes a look at the Downtown Eastside.

 

Ever wonder about what household objects get up to in their secret lives? Look no further. (The site’s in Russian but the photos need no words.)

 

And if you’ve got time, watch this bad boy!

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Oh, Tuesday links. I had such plans for you. In my defence, I admit I’ve been preoccupied with this Olympics thing that has descended upon my fair city and haven’t been focused on blogging to any extent. But let me see what I can pull out of my ass. Most of these will be Olympic-related so my apologies in advance!

 
Video: Olympic Tent Village residents speak out on homelessness in Vancouver

 
Photo gallery: Anti-Olympic protesters unleash 2010 Heart Attack on Vancouver
Peeps in Vancouver? They’s angry!

 
Brown Edges to the ‘Green Games’
An examination of Olympic greenwashing. (Anyone else find the SUVs being driven around by Olympic officials to be ridiculous?)

 
Gold medal crochet pattern
Designed for the super-nerdy crafter. I kind of want to make a million of them that read “participant”.

 
Winter Coats No Longer the Fashion for Fig Trees.
This reminds me of Vancouver in that people plant palm trees here and then wrap them up to protect them from winter. I mean, when we have winter. Huzzah to the warmest Vancouver winter on record!

 

Annnnnnnnnnnndd … that’s all I’ve got.

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