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Urban Farming

Urban market gardens (urban farms) are social enterprises organized to grow and sell more food in the city. Victory Gardens meet Peak Oil and the 21st century. Urban homesteaders welcome here too! Part of our Neighbourhood Food Networks.

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Members: 42
Latest Activity: Jul 14, 2015

Urban Farming

SOLEFood, many urban CSAs, backyard farms and cooperative farming collaboratives are in operation across Vancouver.  Some use cold frames to extend the planting season.  Some are run more as a formal business with employees on hourly wages; others are sole proprietorships.  All in all, the margins are tight and the work involves long hours.  There are few harder ways to make a living in one of the most expensive cities in North America, but none more rewarding.

We got to wondering if there was not something special about urban agriculture that would help turn it into an even higher yielding and thus more sustainable endeavor. Certainly the need for transportation and complex distribution systems drops along with the food miles, and freshness is unbeatable.  But despite the obvious value of being close to one's market, does the market in fact reward this?  And even if it did, and it appears it doesn't much, can the most needy of healthy local food in our cities afford such a premium?

To read more about the tight economics of small-scale farming on plots from 1/2 to 70 acres, read this excellent study here.  

In brief, farms adjacent to a large metropolitan area seem at most to be able to net their operators $6 to $12 per hour from revenues of $3 to $6 per square foot under cultivation per year.  The income volatility from year to year is huge for smaller operations.  Here is a well-researched economic primer on starting a Market Garden.  We hope this data is not the last word on the subject, that urban farming techniques and yields will improve, and that remuneration will climb quickly as Peak Oil changes everything about industrial farming economics.   

Finally, check out this presentation by urban food activist Philip Be'er, with art by Sam Bradd, that covers many of the good reasons to grow food locally.

Discussion Forum

This weekend (Oct 8-9) 4 Free and near Free Gardening workshops with Robin Wheeler

Started by Ross Moster Oct 7, 2011. 0 Replies

                                             This Weekend (Oct 8-9):4 Free and near Free Gardening Workshops  with Gardening for the Faint of Heart and Food Security for the Faint of Heart author…Continue

Reminder: BC Biochar discussion with Phil Marsh tonight

Started by Ross Moster Mar 18, 2011. 0 Replies

Phil Marsh will discuss production systems and the science and applications behind Biochar carbon sequestering and nutrient production. Composting can improve poor soils by 66% but by adding biochar…Continue

Two Block Diet: We have a great presentation scheduled for tomorrow evening which we will need to cancel unless we know more people are coming...

Started by Ross Moster. Last reply by Ross Moster Feb 24, 2011. 1 Reply

Hi all,In my opinion, the Two Block Diet  (TBD) is one of the best local food initiatives in the city; it would be great if there was at least one such initiative in every VV neighbourhood …Continue

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Urban Farming to add comments!

Comment by Ross Moster on November 20, 2010 at 9:31pm
Just thought I'd let everyone know that there's a good urban ag discussion going on currently on the Neighbourhood Food Networks page, around both urban farming (and the Twin Harvest project specifically, but not exclusively) and community gardening.

And for any of you who are part of Kits Village, there's a parallel discussion going on there, as those of us who are gardening in the Westside Gardening Collaborative search for new space as the Kits House property is about to undergo a complete renovation for the next 2-3 years (and also look at ideas for expanding growing capacity in Kits in general).

Comment by Randy Chatterjee on March 29, 2010 at 1:59pm
For more information about this origins of this group and a project Village Vancouver folks created to bring Vancouver into a 21st century model of sustainability, visit this new and very small web site here for our project called Twin Harvest:

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