A whole lot of squawking ensued when Vancouver city council debated the subject of backyard chicken coops two years ago. But the reality is that urban farming has become part of the fabric of the city, with gardens springing up on spare lots and rooftops all over.
Want to get in on the action? The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation is holding an Urban Farmer Field School this April at the downtown YWCA on Hornby Street. The school offers a crash course on the art of farming in and around the city, with 14 separate classes on topics ranging from organic pest control to managing a small scale farm and raising urban chickens.
The setting for most classes is the glorious rooftop garden that crowns the YWCA Metro Vancouver. Complete with vegetables, fruit trees, a greenhouse and a compost system, the garden produced an incredible 760 kilograms of food in 2011. Classes are hands on and intended to prepare students to become successful urban growers.
Subject matter is broken up into six packages (you can think of these as “majors”): small-farm business planning; food production; food systems; urban soil management; city chickens and coops; and season extension.
Within each of these packages, several different classes are offered. Some classes meet just once; others meet several times over the course of a few weeks. You can pick and choose individual classes (priced as low as $39) or enroll in an entire package and get a discount.
The school can accommodate from 200-300 students, but it looks like space is filling up fast. Classes in small farm business planning are proving especially popular. Other great offerings include Carpentry for Gardeners, Solar Greenhouses, Preserving the Harvest and Fruit Tree Pruning.
Any urban farmers out there? What do you think of the Urban Farmer Field School?