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Urban gardens growing

Call it green fatigue, but I’m feeling overwhelmed these days by thesurge of eco-friendly and ethically correct lifestyle and consumerchoices vying for my daily attention.

Call it green fatigue, but I’m feeling overwhelmed these days by the surge of eco-friendly and ethically correct lifestyle and consumer choices vying for my daily attention. I’m talking about everything from 100-mile diets to free-range eggs to fruitarian dinners — not to mention the ominous issue of food security, or lack thereof. It’s almost enough to scare me into a processed food retreat.

And, yet, on at least one sustainably correct culinary front, call me a convert. I’m referring to community gardening.

Last week, the garden of which I am a recently minted member, Queen Mary Community Garden, opened to much fanfare on the North Shore. The garden is a major success — and has become an attractive focal point for the North Van neighbourhood where it resides.

Yes, there were optimistic photo ops and political speeches on opening day, highlighting the environmental upside of the endeavour. But the real advantage is social. In a day and age when communities are increasingly disparate, and when residents of dense neighbourhoods hardly know their neighbours, these urban agriculture sites have the power to bring people together to exchange planting and composting notes and collectively take care of a property. In addition, many of these gardens, including Queen Mary, are cultivating crops for disadvantaged groups and food banks.

The catch? They have become too popular. There are waiting lists across Vancouver for plots. At one such site on Oak Street, a no vacancy sign adds insult to injury for would-be gardeners by declaring the waiting list is also full.

It’s a situation that exists in other North American cities, unfortunately. Last year, a Portland resident became so fed up with waiting that he scouted out some vacant land and set up a gardening site of his own.

To this end, let’s hope our government leaders can up the urban garden supply to placate exploding local demand.

•••

Congratulations to Vancouver’s Co-operative Auto Network, the homegrown car-sharing organization that recently celebrated an important milestone: Its one-millionth vehicle booking. And in an appropriate twist, the booking was made by none other than Greenpeace Canada.

Earlier this month, Zipcar, a U.S-.based competitor with operations in Vancouver, announced it would be going public on the New York Stock Exchange in a $75-million initial public offering.

Both developments are solid proof the car-sharing concept is here to stay.

– Derek Moscato is a writer with a focus on urban issues, transportation, architecture
and economics; dmoscato@yahoo.com.

 
 
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