Enter the Vancouver urban garden that's been teaching people how to grow their own food for over 40 years

·2 min read
The garden, created on vacant lots, has been teaching people how to grow their own food for the past 44 years. (Nate Slaco/Submitted - image credit)
The garden, created on vacant lots, has been teaching people how to grow their own food for the past 44 years. (Nate Slaco/Submitted - image credit)

This story is part of the CBC Creator Network series. The Creator Network amplifies the voices of the next generation of Canadian storytellers and connects them with CBC platforms, where they tell compelling stories and share unique perspectives that reflect the country in all its diversity. To check out more from the Creator Network, tap here

In the middle of a bustling Vancouver neighbourhood lies an agricultural oasis created from a couple of vacant lots that dates back to 1978.

That's when a group of people calling themselves City Farmer created the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden in Kitsilano to teach people living in the city how to grow their own food in a sustainable way.

The garden and its work inspiring urban farming over the past 44 years is now being highlighted in a short film called Parking Lot to Paradise through the CBC's Creator Network.

"It is a marvellous place to be," Michael Levenston, co-founder of City Farmer Society and garden site manager, told CBC's On the Coast host Gloria Macarenko. "I was 27 in 1978 and I just turned 71, so it's been a lot of years."

Nate Slaco/Submitted
Nate Slaco/Submitted

The garden sits on more than a quarter of an acre of land and offers educational lessons, tours and gardening advice six days a week. Schools can book tours or people can just walk in to enjoy a lesson.

"It's like horticultural therapy," Levenston said, adding that staff also teach people how to compost in their own gardens.

WATCH | Parking Lot to Paradise:

Maria Keating, a City Farmer gardener and bug expert, said a mulberry tree she planted in the garden 14 years ago has been helping her feed her silkworms, which she talks about in educational tours for students and visitors.

"The silkworm project started with me just wanting to show people the life cycle of a caterpillar," Keating said. "To grow silkworms, you need to have mulberry leaves to feed them."

Nate Slaco/Submitted
Nate Slaco/Submitted

She said the mulberry has grown into a "beast of a tree" and has become a draw in itself.

"I had no idea just all the magic that would happen under this tree as we get visitors coming in from all over the world," she said.

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