New urban agriculture policy starts buzz in city parks

Environmental art at Maclean Park
Photograph by Urban Weaver Project
February 17 2015 –

Get ready for innovative community food and agriculture uses in parks

Everyone’s a foodie nowadays, and the Vancouver Park Board recognizes that.

To reflect the growing and diverse interest in local food production and cultivation, we have adopted a new Urban Agriculture Policy that aims to broaden the types of food-related projects considered in parks, including one-off and pilot projects.

The policy also:

  • Clarifies the consultation process to ensure that public feedback opportunities are included
  • Advances the Park Board’s aim to be a “leader in greening”
  • Advances the City’s Vancouver Food Strategy and Greenest City 2020 Action Plan's local food target

Look for this upcoming urban agriculture project

Bee-friendly house at Trillium North Park

This spring, adults and children will be “buzz-scaping” at Strathcona’s 3.5-hectare Trillium North Park. That is, the Strathcona Food Security Committee is constructing a pollinator house frame.

Sketch of pollinator house at Trillium North Park

Sketch by eartHand Gleaners

Meanwhile, Strathcona Elementary students weave bee-friendly housing forms out of bamboo to attach to the fencing. The Environmental Youth Alliance will then lead the design of the surrounding space to attract native pollinators and share lessons learned.

Sketch of the bee-friendly fence weave at Trillium North Park

Sketch by eartHand Gleaners

Check out these existing projects

Environmental art and education garden at Trillium North Park

The new artist-led learning garden at Trillium North Park, opened last summer, is an example of the types of projects our policy addresses. A collaboration with eartHand Gleaners Society, the garden focuses on environmental art and education.

Garden at Kitsilano Community Centre

Another project is the compact and creative Garden at Kitsilano Community Centre. Opened last summer next to the centre, it is based on a collaborative model instead of individual plots. Gardeners collectively maintain the produce beds and fruit trees, farm the site, and harvest for use in community centre programs.

Pollinator garden Oak Meadows Park and mini orchard at Clark Park

Other unconventional arrangements include the 1,500-square-foot pollinator garden at Oak Meadows Park – which features an “insect hotel” (a converted telephone booth) managed by the Environmental Youth Alliance – and Commercial Drive’s Clark Park mini-fruit tree orchard of four trees planted by neighbours.

How we got here

Our Local Food Action Plan (2013) identified updating the existing Community Gardens Policy (2005) as a high priority.

We based revisions on input from our Local Food Task Force, its working groups, and community stakeholders who advised on how to integrate healthy, local food actions into the Park Board’s policy, programs, and operations. The policy applies only to gardens in parks.

The changes addressed key issues such as:

  • Expanding the traditional definition of food-growing encouraged in parks
  • Describing common urban agriculture criteria
  • Formalizing public consultation standards for different types of urban agriculture projects (in place since 2013)

Park gardens by the numbers

  • 30 community-organized gardens
  • 1,100 plots
  • 500 fruit trees

(Current as of February 2015)

What's urban agriculture?

  • Community gardening
  • Fruit and nut tree projects
  • Hobby beekeeping
  • Pollinator gardens
  • Permaculture projects
  • Edible landscaping
  • Urban farming
  • Collaborative and shared gardening
  • Educational gardening
  • Arts- and culture-focused gardening

Learn more about the Urban Agriculture Policy

Urban Agriculture Policy for parks

Find out about the Urban Agriculture Policy drafted by the Vancouver Park Board to better reflect agricultural activities now taking place in urban parks.