With crowded neighbours, limited space and bustling roads, urban dwellers may feel discouraged from growing food on their property.
For those with greenspace surrounding their homes in the city, the status quo is to maintain a nice green lawn, maybe with some perennials or annual flowers. But lawns in the city have the potential to offer much more than a pretty face.
This futuristic vision of how Fredericton could look noted that a 20-hour work week allowed more people to gather in the community, and care for Fredericton’s “garden margins” which dot the city.
Rather than having small growing plots scattered around the community, Bergfalk says that the community is the garden.
Instead of dedicating contained areas to growing plants and food, every green space in the city would be cared for and utilized. Plants are released from their pots to roam free, and lawns have all but disappeared, overrun with natural flora and edible plants.
This vision of 2030 sounds ideal, but how can we get there?
Shorter work weeks and annual basic income are sure ways of encouraging people to spend time improving their communities. But these are hurdles that have yet to be crossed – as well, there are some rules about what we can and can’t do with our greenspace in the city.
Sylvain Ward of Moncton designed a vegetable garden in his front yard, as a way to grow food but also connect with his neighbours and inspire the community.
After a complaint was registered with the City of Moncton urban planning department, Ward was told that zoning bylaws determined that “a front-yard garden is not consistent with the city’s definition of ‘landscaping,’ and it would have to be removed.”
Though, it seems the urban planning department recognizes the growing interest in gardening among citizens. Moncton’s urban planning department has decided to undertake research and explore how gardens and urban agriculture can be incorporated into the zoning bylaw.
That sort of thing is unlikely to happen in Fredericton, said city councilor John MacDermid. Based on our bylaws, there are policies on unsightly premises, but as long as plants or gardens are maintained, there shouldn’t be any issues with growing vegetables, fruits, flowers, or whatever residents desire.
Samantha and Mélanie Michaud have proven that growing in an urban setting is more than possible. The pair of sisters living in downtown Fredericton started growing food in two raised bed gardens in their backyard last year. After a successful season, they decided to expand to the front yard.
Their front yard garden is an inspiration to others living in urban settings, as they have managed to utilize almost every inch of space they have available.
“It was really fun to do, we did it on a budget and almost everything is reused material. It felt great to use things that we already had in the yard,” said Samantha. She mentioned that their parents were also a big help in putting everything together.
They were sure to do their research before planting in the front yard, and didn’t find any bylaws stopping them from growing delicious food out front.
The only real issue they have faced is some uninvited cats exploring the garden, along with a few pests. Rather than using pesticides, they have been experimenting with natural remedies like apple cider vinegar, lavender and companion planting flowers.
The garden is outlined with beautiful plants including elijah blue, lavender and chives which will bloom into a lovely flower. They have a zucchini patch, peas, butternut squash, two types of tomatoes, cabbage, banana peppers, garlic, green onion, cucumbers, strawberries, and herbs throughout the garden to help with pests.
“Our neighbours have been amazing. People stop by to look at it and take pictures, we haven’t had any complaints,” said Samantha.
Hopefully their front yard garden will inspire others to follow suit and use their yards to feed themselves and others in the community.
Hannah Moore is a recent graduate from St. Thomas University, currently working as a Food Security and Regenerative Farming Reporter for the RAVEN project at the University of New Brunswick.