local food

MOVments of the week


Can Vancouver feed itself? Last week’s Food and Beers event was a huge success. Read about it here on The Tyee. We’re planning on making film footage available from the event available soon so stay tuned!

Slim pickings. The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project is reporting that due to the poor weather this spring, they are receiving less calls and collecting less fruit for food banks and local charities this year.

New model for housing. Vancity Credit Union and Westbank are partnering with community organizations in the Downtown East Side to make new condos a little moreaffordable for people with moderate incomes. The units will sell for well below the normal market value. In exchange for the reduction in price, residents will have to volunteer in the Downtown East Side and will not have access to a parking stall.

Olympic Village. Bob Rennie joins the public debate about the Olympic Village development this week, stating that Michael Geller’s statements that social housing is scaring buyers away and the ensuing debate is making it difficult to market the project. Geller clarified his position in the Vancouver Observer, stating that he never meant his statements to be taken the way that they have been interpreted in the debate.

Putting down routes. An article in Regarding Place looks at where new immigrants choose to settle in the Metro Vancouver region and finds that access to transit is key.

Great Beginnings mural program. A new mural in Chinatown pays homage to philosopher Lao Tzu.

Image credit: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG

Beyond the Photos: Home Grow-In Grocer


The food at last week’s Local Iron Chef event was donated by the Home Grow-In Grocer, one of the locations featured in the Home Grown exhibit. Kaylin Pearce and I visited the shop during our summer work terms to speak to the owner, Deb Reynolds, about her business and local food.

In our research leading up to our visit we heard nothing but wonderful things about this place, so we were excited to pay it a visit. We wanted to profile the store because for most city-dwellers, we relate to food as consumers. The easiest way to make a difference is to put your money where your heart is and choose ethical products over their alternatives.

The grocery store is unique because it is run with a strong social and environmental conscience. It stocks foods grown and produced in BC, a variety of vegetables, fruit, meat, grains, baked goods, dairy products, preserves and honey. Reynolds explained that she was very picky about the quality and provenance of the goods she sells, recalling times when she had pulled products off her shelves because key ingredients had not been produced locally.

Situated on the corner of two quiet residential streets, the store has become a gathering place for people in the neighbourhood. A few people sat in the shade on lawn chairs that had been placed underneath the trees outside, enjoying the atmosphere.

On the afternoon we visited the store was a hub of activity with deliveries, volunteers and staff setting up for the Home Grow-In’s Buyers Club Co-op. The program aims to make food from local farms more available to people through a harvest box program. Once per week produce is delivered from Metro Vancouver farms to the store where it is boxed and then delivered to subscribers. The program has been so successful that Reynolds is now launching a similar program to distribute locally produced meat.

In addition to this, Reynolds takes an active role in helping the community. She has an agreement with fruit tree growers in the interior to donate culled fruit - edible but too blemished to sell in stores - so she can distribute it to the Surrey Food Bank. To date she has donated significant time and several thousand pounds of produce that would otherwise have rotted. She says that this, as well as her business are part of her effort to give back to communities that helped her when she was in need.

Image credit: Brian Harris

MOVments of the week


Another round-up of things we’ve been following this week:

Two block diet. The Vancouver Sun ran a great article this week about a small community that has formed around producing local food. Some residents in the Riley Park-Little Mountain area decided to pool their resources and help each other turn their back yards into gardens. They now share a communal compost, greenhouse, pressure-canner, laying hens and bee hives and provide an example of what can be accomplished when people work together.

Marine Gateway. The Marine Gateway Project continues to face opposition from many residents in the Cambie Corridor. Architect Nigel Baldwin is one of the latest people to voice concern. Francis Bula presents a document he prepared that visualizes the proposed development in other locations in Vancouver revealing just how large it would be.

However, Bula brings up a good point that it may be more appropriate to judge the individual parts of the development, rather than condemn the whole. For example, the proposed development would include community gathering spaces, something that is currently lacking in Marpole.

Still, others argue that projects like these are essential to drive down the cost of housing and increase supply.

The Charles. The new pub in the Woodwards building has sparked some controversy over the direction of development and revitalization in the area. Some residents and advocates for the Downtown East Side are concerned that the new businesses opening in the neighbourhood offer products and services at prices well beyond what many residents can afford, speeding gentrification.

Hornby bike lane again. The City of Vancouver released drawings of the blocks affected by the Hornby bike lane. The plans continue to draw the ire of the business community. I have been particularly enjoying following Gordon Price’s thoughts on bike lanes in the city and the current conflict between businesses and planners.

Breaking car-dependence. Another thing we’ve been following is the Tyee’s series Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities, about planning cities to minimize the need for cars.

Image credit: Les Bazso, PNG, from the Vancouver Sun

MOVments of the week


A round-up of some things we’ve been following this week:

Milk co-op under threat. After a lengthy legal battle, Alice Jongerden has resigned from her work at the Home on the Range milk cooperative in Chilliwack after being ordered earlier this week to stop milking the cows. In order to circumvent laws against the purchase and sale of raw milk, cooperative members purchase shares of dairy cattle and pay Ms. Jongerden to take care of them. While the provincial health authority maintains that raw milk is hazardous to health, raw milk activists are vocal supporters of consumer choice.

Underfunded. An Auditor General report reveals that BC’s Agricultural Land Commission is too underfunded and lacking in resources to adequately do it’s job. The report notes that the Commission is understaffed, is unable to put adequate resources into enforcement and relies on outdated maps and information. The Agricultural Land Commission is meant to protect farmland from development, but much of that land is at risk.

Eat Vancouver. Metro Vancouver unveiled a plan to promote local food. Among other things, they intend to create special labeling for local products, establish a farm school and to purchase farmland for a public trust.

Olympic Village. Negotiations continue between the City of Vancouver and prospective non-profit operators of the social housing units in the Olympic Village. Many non-profit organizations that had initially expressed interest in operating the units have expressed concern that the City’s terms and conditions would make it difficult for them to afford to manage the units.

Declining literacy. By 2031 it is estimated that 1.3 million Vancouver residents will have low literacy skills. However, I’m not sure why the Vancouver Sun chose to run this article with a picture of kids at school in Bountiful, BC. It seems unfair to implicate Mormon enclaves when the article specifically mentions that immigrants and the elderly are the targets of concern.

Image credit: Brett Beadle photo for The Globe and Mail

Donate Your Canning to MOV’s Wall of Preserves


For our Home Grown exhibit we’re building a shelf to hold dozens of jars of preserves. Think of it; glass vessels full of your raspberry jam, spicy green beans, dilly pickles all lit up. If you’re into canning and food preservation or know someone who is, this is an opportunity to have your work on display at the Museum of Vancouver as a part of a visual feast (opening August 26th) of local food production.

Jars should be labeled with the contents, where the food was grown, your name, and the date of canning.

You can drop off your donations (maximum size 11” or 28 cm high) at our front desk with attention to Joan Seidl (

Image credit: photogramma1, via flickr.

MOVments of the week: blue-whale skeletons, chicken coops, and cities going vertical


Our weekly round up of local news, events, and cultural happenings we’re tracking. Off we go…

One more whale skeleton and we’ve got a trend. The soon-to-open Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC has devoted their atrium to a blue-whale skeleton. On Saturday, Ottawa’s Museum of Nature will unveil an exhibit of a juvenile blue-whale skeleton, on view for the first time since it was donated in 1975. The museum has undergone an extensive six-year, $250-million overhaul that was part renovation (a view of the show-stealing staircases inside their ‘lantern’ addition is pictured left), part restoration, and aimed at showcasing Canada’s rich natural heritage. “Probably the only thing Canadians agree on is their pride in the physical beauty and remarkable nature of the natural environment of the country,” says Joanne DiCosimo, the museum’s president and CEO. “And our public wants to learn more about their impact on the natural environment as well as, as much as we can tell them about the changes through time in the natural landscape.” Image slideshow, video tour, and article found on Globe and Mail.

The chickens are coming! Almost! After much debate, column inches, airtime, etc., Vancouver is one step closer to backyard chicken coops. Earlier this week, City Council approved a plan recommending amendments to zoning and animal control by-laws, the creation of an online registry for hen keepers, safety and health regulations, and the creation of a city-run shelter for abandoned chickens.” (!) Next step: a public hearing to legalize the zoning and by-law amendments. Slowly but surely. (Vancouver Sun)

A tale of three cities. Vancouver is densely built but expensive. Calgary sprawls over rolling prairie land but is starting to think skyward (see the new urbanist-style neighbourhood of Mackenzie Towne). Toronto is somewhere in between. For a tidy summary of how three Canadian cities developed and where their respective planning efforts are taking them now, click the link. (Globe and Mail)

Last week, a pixelated whale. This week, giant sparrows! More public art has gone up on along the city’s waterfront, this time on the Olympic Plaza in Southeast False Creek. Local artist Myfanwy MacLeod’s pair of 18-feet-tall sparrows reference the neighbourhood’s past and present. According to the artist statement, “Locating this artwork in an urban plaza not only highlights what has become the ‘natural’ environment of the sparrow, it also reinforces the ’small’ problem of introducing a foreign species and the subsequent havoc wreaked upon our ecosystem.” They’re stunningly beautiful, too. The complete artist statement and images of the fabrication are found on the City of Vancouver’s website here. Happy long weekend.

Image credit: Pawel Dwulit for the Globe and Mail

MOVments from the week


A round up of news stories we followed this week, plus other events and cultural happenings worth a notice.

You see arugula, I see an eyesore? As City Council pushes for a green, sustainable Vancouver (allowing backyard chickens, introducing new bike lanes, building a demonstration garden on City Hall property, etc.), awkward snags in the day-to-day functioning of city emerge. Two neighbours in East Van are going head-to-head over a vegetable garden. Seems the tenants at 470 E. 56th Ave. have turned the front and back yards of the property over to vegetables, growing everything from kale to raspberries to herbs. Every inch is maximized for growing—even the dandelions are used for tea. (An image of the yard from last summer is pictured left.) They write a blog about their “yarden” project, too, and have even offered workshops to would-be farmers. Their neighbour says their efforts are impacting the value of his property and that weeds are travelling into his yard. The City is now involved, expressing their support but also requiring clean up of beds planted on the city land the tenants have taken over between the sidewalk and the street, among other things. Question is: Would the neighbours complain, and thus the city be involved, if the house were located near Commercial Drive where such philosophies are more commonplace? Or are the tenants pushing things too far, too fast, politicizing the issue instead of just trying to get along? Would love feedback on all this. See the article in today’sGlobe and Mail for additional background.

First United embraces a new mission. This week, First United Church launched a campaign to raise $31-million to “redevelop the church into a multi-service facility that will provide everything from health care to housing” for residents of the Downtown Eastside. Though the church has been a beacon for the poor and marginalized since its establishment in 1885 (archival photos from the 1930s show people lined up around the building for food), it has adapted in recent years to meet a growing demand for safe shelter. In 2007, they stopped offering formal Sunday services because of poor attendance; in 2008, they became one of the City’s emergency homeless shelters, under the HEAT initiative. Some 250 to 300 people sleep there each night. With this week’s announcement, they’ll now formally transition from a place of worship to a place of sanctuary, a move a spokesperson for the church says resulted from questioning what it means to be a church in the 21st century. (Globe and Mail)

So long, white dome. On May 3, at 10 a.m., the distinctive air-supported roof at B.C. Place will deflate for good, marking a major change to the city’s skyline. The 27-year-old roof is being replaced with a retractable version that’s scheduled for completion next year. Click the link for a slideshow of artist renderings. (BC Place)

Art, popular culture, and Kurt Cobain. On May 13, the Seattle Art Museum will open an exhibition devoted to Kurt Cobain. The group show sees different media to interpret the work, life, and continued influence of the city’s most famous musician. On till September 6. Click the link for a slideshow of works from the show. Wonder what Kurt would think. (Seattle Art Museum)

And a note on what we’re working on. Sorry to be off the blog this week. We’re gearing up for the opening of our latest exhibition, Fox, Fluevog & Friends(!), and preparing for the launch of our summer program schedule and related online content. Some of the programs will relate to the Fluevog exhibition, others won’t. Lively mix assured.

We’ve also been busy mining the content from our history galleries for a new interpretive guide/mini-catalogue. It’s been written and designed as a visitor’s guide to those galleries, and part of an ongoing effort to link the stories from the city’s—and the Museum’s past—into our new vision. I’ll write more about it once it’s available at our visitor services desk. Happy weekend.

Image credit: The Farmhouse Blog

Exploring the local food revival




As our Twitter followers will have noticed, we’ve started flagging stories from here and elsewhere about the surging popularity of eating food grown locally. Credit Vancouver writers Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon for giving the local movement traction with their popular 100-Mile Diet blog, book, and television series, and the many Vancouver restaurants who champion regional suppliers (far too many places to list but Raincity Grill and C restaurant come to mind).

In August, we open a feature exhibition that will explore the homegrown scene through a collection of new photographic works. We’ll supplement the show with a series of public programs designed to educate and inspire. Stay tuned. In the meantime, we’ll continue to post about news and ideas relating to all this—there’s certainly no shortage of them.

First published in 2008, Edible Estates spotlighted the return of the kitchen garden. The just-published—and expanded—second edition looks at eight “regional prototype gardens” planted by author Fritz Haeg around the U.S. There are also essays by leading edible-landscape thinkers such as landscape architect like Rosalind Creasy, and Michael Pollan, the unofficial voice of the sustainable-food movement. The book is beautifully designed, too; lots to inspire.

Last week, I tweeted about a great slideshow on Instructurist that looks at the emergence of urban farms in inner-city neighbourhoods in parts of the U.S. It’s worth mentioning again; the range of interpretations is fascinating.

Vancouver’s version of an urban farm is taking shape on Hastings Street next to the Astoria Hotel. Called SOLEfood, it’s a project from United We Can that employs neighbourhood residents. This spring, they’ll harvest their first crop. Visit their blog for more information and ways you can get involved. Right now, they’re looking for garden tool donations.

Lots more ahead on this topic. Send us your own ideas and observations, too.

Image credit: Art Book

MOVments from the week


The local news and cultural happenings we followed this week—and what we’re up to this weekend.

Yet another take on cabinets of curiosities. During the four-month run of Ravishing Beasts—our feature exhibit on taxidermy—the blog looked at how the design world is reinterpreting the natural world. You’d be hard-pressed to open a shelter mag these days without finding some reference to this trend, or something about creating off-beat vignettes that go beyond books and vases and into the slightly macabre. An image of Patch NYC’s vignette from the French edition of Marie Claire magazine is pictured left. (Poppytalk)

“Radical Homemakers,” and “Femivores.” In advance of our fall 2010 exhibit on the local food revival, we’re tracking stories from here and elsewhere on the new breed of homemaker—namely, the new generation of people embracing self-sufficiency through gardening, bee keeping, chicken keeping, etc. This week, a New York Times Magazine piece looked at it from a feminist perspective, dubbing the proponents of this new movement “femivores.” Meantime, a just-published book entitled Racial Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture,looks at the trend in families and the focus on sustainability. (NY Times and Globe and Mail)

London’s Jewish Museum reopened to the public this week following a £10-million transformation that involved a move to an old piano factory and a tripling of their exhibit space. New interactive displays are designed to take visitors into the daily experiences of Jewish residents, right down to the smells of traditional cooking. (Jewish Museum London)

And a museum closer to home… We love this slideshow of images of a blue whale skeleton being reassembled for the soon-to-open Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC. Can’t wait to see this hanging in their new atrium soon. Look at those vertebrae! (Vancouver Sun)

Vancouver’s oldest school is slated for demolition. On Wednesday, parents, students and teachers gathered to protest plans to level a two-room schoolhouse next to Sir Guy Carleton elementary. The structure was built in 1896 but damaged in a fire in 2006 and has sat empty ever since, awaiting restoration. (Vancouver Sun)

And something to do here this weekend…We’ve blogged about it, tweeted about it, and the night is nearly here. Tomorrow at 7 p.m., we host a screening of the acclaimed documentary “Handmade Nation.” (Click here to be taken to the March 2nd blog post about it.) It promises to be a great event, complete with mini-craft fair by Got Craft? and a reception in our MOV Studio. Be sure to arrive early to view our feature exhibit Art of Craft, which showcases incredible crafts from local, national, and Korean talent. Happy weekend!

Image credit: Poppytalk


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