about us

CCFN is an active collaboration of community members, agencies, service providers and organizations working together to enhance the health and well-being in our neighborhoods by supporting and coordinating local food security initiatives and improving access to community health, social services and community-based programs. Join us. It's free, fun and makes a difference! Email the coordinator and receive our monthly e-newsletter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two Block Diet

At the TLCC Food Security Network meeting in September, Kate Sutherland and Catherine Shapiro came to tell us about the "Two Block Diet", a homegrown success story in Mount Pleasant.

It started with a block party and a conversation about growing food. Kate was talking to one of her neighbours about her lack of garden space and the neighbour offered part of her yard for Kate to grow in. From there the idea of sharing yards to plant gardens emerged and grew into the Two Block Diet.

Their first meeting was held in November of 2008 where about 13 people gathered to discuss how they could support each other to grow more food, reduce their CO2 footprint, teach their children about where food comes from, and build community. The eldest was in her 90’s and the youngest a baby; Catherine, a master gardener, was the most experienced grower and there were others, like Kate, who had never successfully started their own seeds indoors. Together the group shared information and “played”, envisioning what a Two Block Diet would look like.

Through the darker colder months they planned gardens and bought seeds together. Some had yards and others just had balconies; some owned and some rented. During their meetings, often held in someone's living room, they’d plant seeds, just like the old quilting bees! These seeds would be germinated in warm, darker places and then, once they'd sprouted, they were placed in one of the neighbour’s basements under two grow lights the group had bought together. From the city they ordered compost, which they distributed during one of their monthly work parties. At another work party they built a greenhouse, which one of them had bought second hand. As another way to reduce CO2, they strung a clothesline for one of the neighbours in the group, a free and green way to dry clothes. Surprisingly the most onerous task for the group didn’t entail a wheelbarrow, or a hammer, but rather a calendar in order to discuss and set a standard time to meet in their busy lives.

In the spring, the power of many hands was extended to a plant sale so they could raise money to buy bees. (Just in case you are thinking of doing a neighbourhood fundraiser, they found that basil plants were their very best seller.) Raspberry canes were also bought and planted, and in one of the yards they established a collective potato patch.

The neighbours grew for themselves, shared and traded and ate two-block-meals together. The kids foraged and learned how food their food was grown, and everyone learned about community. Two neighbours who had lived just doors away from each other for over 12 years, finally visited each other’s homes. When one of the group fell ill and was in the hospital, they all pitched in to water her garden. That's community.

To start a Two Block Diet group in your community, find at least one other neighbour to help you spread the word. Post some flyers and invite your neighbours to a meeting. Talk about everything your Two Block Diet can be and then start small. If the group doesn't have a master gardener, have a look Robin Wheeler's book, Gardening for the Faint of Heart. Kate and Catherine attribute the group’s success to staying focussed on one thing: to grow more food. With that uncomplicated agenda they were able to grow a great deal more.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Organic Master Gardener Courses

It's time to register for the Organic Master Gardener Course. Finally, a comprehensive organic gardening course for urban garden enthusiasts! Come and gather with like-minded environmentally conscious students and,

* Learn to create fabulous food and ornamental gardens without pesticides and other harmful chemicals
* Become a SOUL Organic Master Gardener and share your knowledge with others through mentorship programs, workshops, talks and many other creative ways
* Gain essential skills to start or enhance your own business in the rapidly growing organic land care industry

Everyone is welcome. No previous experience required. Just come, learn and have fun. This is a practical experience-based course consisting of lectures and hands-on exercises. To receive a Certificate of Completion students must attend all sessions and complete and present a satisfactory assignment. All courses are taught by Heide Hermary.

Daytime Course (Course Number: 074-1, Cost: $695.00)
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Tuesdays and Thursdays
September 29th to November 19th

Night Course (Course Number: 183-1, Cost: $695.00)
6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Tuesdays and Thursdays
September 29th to November 14th

To register please phone Burnaby Adult and Continuing Education at (604) 664-8888, or register online.

A Shorter Course in Soil Management

Don't have enough time for the Organic Master Gardener Course? Check out the 3-Day Intensive Organic Soil Management Course also offered through Burnaby Adult and Continuing Education. Register online, or call (604) 664-8888.

Daytime Course (Course Number: 079-1, Cost: $549.00)
9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Friday, Saturday and Sunday
November 27th to 29th

Soil is the foundation of landscape health. Whether you grow ornamental gardens, turf or vegetables, you need to understand how soil works. In the past we have looked at soil primarily as a "growing medium" - something lifeless and sterile. But soil is the exact opposite - it's an ecosystem, and needs to be managed as such. The greatest biodiversity on earth occurs - or should occur - in the top few inches of soil. Soil ecosystem health and plant health are inseparably linked. Soil processes are universal, applying equally to ornamental landscapes, turf and agricultural crops. Our job is primarily one of fine-tuning.

In this three-day intensive, professional workshop you will learn how to,

* assess the health of your soil, and
* support the natural processes within the soil that result in plant health.

You will also gain a deeper understanding of organic horticulture, and how you can integrate organic practices into your own. For more information please visit Gaia College.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The KCC Neighbour: Call for Articles

The KCC Neighbour is a community newspaper by and for people living in the Kensington/Cedar Cottage area that is distributed to 15,000 households and local businesses and organizations. Look for the next exciting edition in October 2009.

They Need Your Content by September 21st, 2009.

The KCC Neighbour focusses on the strength and spirit of the people in our community and emphasizes the partnership between residents, businesses and organizations. Help build the future of this paper.

You can contribute by:
• Writing a story. Some examples include showcasing a member of the community who is making a difference, sharing your community concerns or highlighting the cultural diversity of our neighbourhood. They welcome your ideas!
• Sending in photos. They encourage submissions for their cover and to accompany stories in order to illustrate life in Kensington/Cedar Cottage.
• Providing information about local programs or upcoming community events.
• Advertising your local business in their marketplace pullout. Call for ad sizes and prices, 604-874-4231.
• Joining their dedicated and dynamic Newspaper Committee to help with layout, advertising, editing and overall production. They look forward to your participation!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Year 'Round Harvesting Workshop

Vancouver Community Agriculture Network (VCAN) and the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA) are again co-hosting a FREE workshop on year-round harvesting.

Come learn how to design your garden so you can enjoy it all year long. Free seedlings and seeds will be given away too.

Date: Tuesday, Aug. 4
Time: 7:00-8:30pm
Location: Eco-Pavilion in the Strathcona Community Gardens (Prior and Hawks).
Reservations: Email hartley@eya.ca

Monday, July 20, 2009

Winter Gardening at CCG

Cedar Cottage Community Garden will be hosting a Winter Gardening Workshop,

Date: Saturday August 8th
Time: 10:30am - end time TBA
Location: Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House
Address: 4065 Victoria Drive
Registration: Email Simon at dash.rockmore@gmail.com

The workshop is open to all and will be led by Sharon Hanna, a regular contributor to GardenWise magazine (her blog is available at: gardenwiseonline.ca/shanna. She suggested this date since early August is the perfect time to get your beds ready for winter planting! It seems a long way off with all this beautiful weather, but early planning makes for a successful winter.

The workshop will start at the neighbourhood house and then move to the garden site so that we can have some hands-on learning.

Admission is by donation.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Farmhouse Farm Summer Permaculture Workshops and Courses

Permaculture Water Conservation Strategies – July 18th

This one-day workshop will focus on Permaculture concepts for water conservation in the home and garden. Participants will learn foundation concepts and strategies for reducing water consumption, and will have the chance to work on one or all three of a series of water conservation, filtration, and recycling systems that we’ll be building.

July 18th, 10.00 am to 4.30pm.

Pay-What-You-Feel, suggested donation $75 – $120.

Introduction to Permaculture

A two-day (12 hour) course that will present the ethics, principles, and strategies of Permaculture as a design methodology for creating self-sustaining human systems. Topics will include Permaculture ethics and principles, the importance of design, climate and landscape factors, site analysis, closed-loop system design, input/output analysis, functional analysis, forest gardening, and Permaculture in social and economic systems.

Two separate sessions will be offered, July 25th-26th, and August 22nd-23rd.

Pat-What-You-Feel, suggested donation $135 – $285.

As always, workshops are offered on a pay-what-you-feel basis and trades/barters are always welcome. Mutually supportive relationships create abundance for all.

TO REGISTER EMAIL: farmhousefarm (at) gmail (dot) com.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Sunday, July 12th, 11 am - 1 pm: FREE Tours of Community Gardens

Join gardeners at 16 different community gardens on July 12th, between 11 am and 1 pm, as they tour you through Vancouver's hidden gems. These free personalized tours have been developed to supplement a new brochure outlining self-guided walking or biking routes created by the City. The brochure encourages people of all ages to discover Vancouver’s rich network of community gardens through 8 individual self-guided routes. With 44 gardens to see, the walks lead you from the oldest gardens to the newest, the smallest to largest. Each route is less than 3 km one-way, and takes in 3 to 6 gardens, all with their own unique character. Some routes are close enough to one another that you can combine a few in one day.

On the July 12th, between 11 am and 1 pm, you can find personalized guides at the following 16 community gardens:

* Strathcona (Hawks & Prior)
* Cottonwood (Hawks & Malkin)
* Hastings Street Folk Garden (117 - 123 East Hastings)
* Jacob's Well (449 East Hastings)
* My Own Backyard - MOBY (East 11th, east of Commercial Dr.)
* Cedar Cottage (Hull & Victoria Dr.)
* Means of Production (St. Catherine & East 6th)
* Sahali ((Fraser & East 8th)
* Grandview (Grandview Hwy & Woodland Dr.)
* City Hall North Lawn (West 10th & Cambie)
* Tea Swamp (East 15th & Sophia)
* Nelson Park (1100 Comox St.)
* Cypress (West 6th, Burrard - Cypress)
* Pine (West 6th, Burrard to Fir)
* Urban Acres (West 1st & Fir)
* World in A Garden (West 57th & East Blvd.)

Brochures can be found at libraries, community centres, garden centres, City Hall rotunda, and Vancouver’s farmers markets. For more information about community gardens and the walks, visit www.vancouver.ca/gardens. You can also download tours directly by clicking here.

Original notice came from,

Andrew Pask
Social Policy | Social Development Department

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vancouver Fruit Tree Project: Request for Volunteers

The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project is looking for both volunteer pickers and volunteer pick leaders. Climbing trees is not required! Come meet like minded people, have fun and make a difference. Read below for role descriptions.

Volunteer Picker

Volunteer pickers will receive weekly emails regarding the upcoming picks they are invited to participate in. They RSVP with the pick coordinator about any that they would like to attend. There is no minimum requirement for participation, it’s just whatever you can make it out to. At the picks the pickers will use picking poles and orchard ladders to work in a group to pick the tree, sorting the fruit into boxes for delivery to our community partners such as daycares, neighbourhood houses, food banks, and community centres. Volunteers can help with equipment set up and take down as well. Picks usually take between 1-3 hours and happen mostly on weekends and week-day evenings and sometimes during weekdays.

Volunteer Pick Leader

The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project is looking for pick leaders who can commit to leading one pick per week. The pick coordinator will try to schedule you for picks in your neighbourhood but you may be asked to lead a pick in another area of town. The pick coordinator will arrange a team of volunteers and will set up a community partner for the fruit to be donated to. The pick leaders are responsible for coordinating transportation to and from the pick, bringing and returning the equipment, delivering the fruit to the community partner, and of course, leading the volunteers in a fun and safe pick. Having your own transportation (with a roof rack for ladders) a benefit but is not required, as we can set you up with a car sharing membership through the VFTP.

Contact Liz Perkins
Coordinator of Picks
Vancouver Fruit Tree Project

Monday, June 29, 2009

This Canada Day, Say "Hi"

Our conversation started simply enough, I was walking by and she was weeding. After exchanging "hellos" I learned here name was Kerry and that she had recently moved from Alberta.

“I’m so surprised at what grows here, like these grapes.” Since April she has tended her MOBY Community Garden plot on 11th, just off Commercial Drive. The gardener before had planted grapes which are now nearly four feet high. Other green shoots are sprouting up too. After I took her photo she laughed, “Maybe someone can tell me which ones are the weeds”.

Community gardens, children and dogs; I’ve begun to feel that these are the essentials for a convivial neighbourhood. Dog owners group around while their dogs run, strangers talk to babies and then, maybe, their parents and gardeners with a bit of dirt on their knees seem like easy people to smile at. The small act of weeding near the sidewalk or in a community garden can be the beginning of a whole new friendship. My tomato plants came from 2 different neighbours, both of whom I met while passing the time, talking about gardening.

This Canada Day, say “hi” to a neighbour. You never know who you’ll meet. Erin Nichols

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spring Fling

The big red A at Victoria Drive and Hull was even more lively than usual on Saturday May 23, as the Cedar Cottage Garden launched its annual Spring Fling fundraiser.

Cease Wyss, a member of the Skxwu7mesh and Sto:lo Nations and an active participant in the garden, opened the event with a traditional song of welcome.

Visitors were invited to tour the garden accompanied by Jill Dalton, who pointed out over-wintered spinach with leaves as big as your head and red clover brighter than a Pantone colour. Local musicians played on the plaza stage. Faune fired up audience creativity with a poetry contest. A friend bought several tomato plants at the plant sale and there were kids activities too, like the simple art of chaining daisies.

It's hard to imagine that just over a year ago this vibrant green community space was a place of trepidation; hidden from the road and littered with trash and needles. New garden plots have just been built, bringing the total to 59. Contact us if you live in the neighbourhood and need a place to grow!

Pictured from top left going clock-wise: Cease Wyss, garden plot, Whitney Peterson of the band Soft Serve, a young gardener, Spring Fling MC: Leslie Kemp a garden member, Jil Dalton, salad greens, the new beds and young apple tree, red clover. Centre: the big red A, gateway to the garden.