Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Read On: Growing your own food

Plant basil herb

Growing your own food has many benefits. It’s easy to start fresh herbs like basil indoors in spring for transplanting outside in the summer. Photo by Julie Cheng

BY TONY WANLESS

Do you grow your own food?

Many people today have found that growing some of their own food – vegetables, herbs, perhaps eggs if they have a hen house –in a window box or garden plot has many benefits.

One benefit is that food you grow usually costs less than store-bought food. That is why during times of hardship, such as the Depression and the Second World War, when people had little money, they grew food in their backyard or in shared garden spaces.

Also, growing their own food was often the only way they could get the kind of food that kept them healthy. During the Second World War, home food gardens were often called “victory gardens” – because they helped countries at war divert their resources to the war effort to achieve victory.

Today, although we are not at war, most people still like to cut costs. While a household may not grow rich by growing their own food, they will be able to cut some part of their annual food spending.

Another benefit is that freshly picked food is usually more tasty than store-bought food (which must be sorted, stored and delivered to grocery stores) because it is often eaten within minutes of being picked.

Although commercial growers try to move their fresh food from store to supermarkets quickly, the process still takes time. This is important, because all food loses vitamins and nutrients during the time from harvest to market.

In Vancouver, you can grow your own herbs, vegetables and other food in many ways. Some people simply put some containers on a balcony or porch. Others plant full gardens in a yard or any plot of land that is available.

Some people without yards rent space from “shared plots” – pieces of land in neighbourhoods where people can grow plants for a small rental fee. Think of it as backyard farming done in a collective way.

In the Renfrew-Collingwood area there are several such growing areas, including two large community gardens: one in the Collingwood area east of the Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain station, and the other in the Norquay area that was formerly located on Kaslo Street across from the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station and now is being planned for Slocan Park. (The Kaslo site is being turned into a place for the homeless.)

The Collingwood Neighbourhood House also offers several food initiatives and has much advice for those wanting to grow their own food. For more information visit http://www.cnh.bc.ca/community/renfrew-collingwood-food-security-institute/ or the blog https://rcfood.wordpress.com/

Definitions

  • hardship: a condition that is difficult; suffering
  • victory: the act of defeating an enemy or opponent
  • divert: to cause something or someone to change direction
  • cut: lessen or reduce
  • collective: done by people acting as a group

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