THANK YOU! Year end, project end.

Dana, Ruth & friends at Cascadia, Laura, Nick, Eliza, Melanie, Sharon & friends at Mole Hill, Shirley, Margaret, Stella, Ginger, Elizabeth(s), Cyndy, Jessie, Kristina, Jaimie, Heidi, Jill….
and many more who participated at the events (Stone Soup Festival, Vancouver Art Gallery Family Fuse, Means of Production Community Garden Tea Parties).

Thank you to all of the participants in Garden Gnomad’s wanderings during 2009. Visiting your beautiful gardens and hearing your thoughts and ideas about community gardening in the city was meaningful for me. It formed my work and ideas for the year. I am grateful for your generosity.

Garden Gnomad was exhibited at the Surrey Art Gallery’s E-Mixer night, during the Interactive Futures conference in November. On January 3, 2010 (7-10) it will also be featured at a one-evening exhibition at Hammock Residency


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Garden Gnomad at EMixer, November 18 2009

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Tartan & Tweed – Tea Party! Tours! Podcasts!

Tartan & Tweed Tea Party Poster

Tartan & Tweed Tea Party Poster

GARDEN GNOMAD will be at MOPARRC’s Tartan & Tweed Tea Party with an audio and image work that winds-up this summer’s wanderings in community gardens far and wide. Download the audio files to your own listening device to hear as you wander through the garden during the tea party. Or, just bring yourself –I will have extra headsets for visitors to borrow.

The Tartan & Tweed Tea Party is the final event of MOPARRC’s summer residency at Means of Production Community Garden. It will present some of the work that has emerged from the artists’ residency during the past year. Lori Weidenhammer, Lois Klassen and Sharon Kallis have used the garden as a material resource; as a place to meet the community for collaborative work; and as a site to consider community agriculture in the urban environment.

MOPARRC presents-
Tartan & Tweed Tea Party at Means of Production Community  Garden
Sunday September 13, 1-4pm
North  China Creek  Park: Corner of St Catherines Street and East 6th Avenue, Vancouver, BC

Celebrate the Harvest Moon; join us for finger food and wild-crafted tea. Suggested Party Attire: “plaid, tartan and tweed.” The last of three tea parties planned for the season, the Tartan & Tweed Tea Party will feature on-site artworks by Sharon Kallis of community-made artwork using materials grown on site during a year-long artist in residence.

Lori Weidenhammer will give tours of the MOP Bee Garden and discuss some of the reasons she and co-designer Jean Kindratsky chose to grow certain plant varieties. Weather permitting, (and hive permitting) Weidenhammer will also give you the opportunity to try out her solar powered sonic therapy chair.

Garden Gnomad PodcastsLois Klassen’s summer-long Garden Gnomad Project presents a series of short audio works to guide visitors to hidden secrets in the Means of Production Garden. Bring your iPod, portable CD player, transistor (there will be some available to borrow) and load up podcasts from the solar-powered Garden Gnomad machine. Download the podcast ahead of time by following instructions posted here:

Performances by:
The Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra
and special guest Gnomie

Note: Uneven terrain.  Proper foot wear recommended; children must be supervised.

For more information about the garden events, and to be placed on an e-mail listing for MOP garden events, email Or visit

Media can call Sharon Kallis at 604-215-9501

Project partners: Environmental Youth Alliance, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation,  Community Arts Council of Vancouver

Project Funders: The Mount Pleasant Community Association, Canada Council for the Arts, Vancouver Office of Cultural Affairs.

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we are stardust we are golden

and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Woodstock began 40 years ago yesterday… Joni Mitchel wasn’t there, but she wrote the song of longing that became one of its most enduring legacies. As I sift through the outcomes of the ‘field work’ that I had the pleasure of collecting this warm summer, I am hearing a similar song of longing, and languishing, of gardeners for small plots of utopia. The dialogue with urban gardeners seems to point me toward looking at the relationship of city dwellers with growing things.


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Solar-Powered Summer Events


The Garden Gnomad has been set up as a solar-powered garden photo booth at a few events this summer: Mount Pleasant Community Centre’s Earth Day Celebration (April 18), The Britannia Centre’s Stone Soup Festival (May 9), Family Fuse at the Vancouver Art Gallery (June 13) the MOPARRC Artist Tea Party at the Means of Production Garden (June 21).

At each of these events, I offered to combine photos of the participants with photos from gardens that I had visited since beginning this project in spring, and then printed them on the spot as postcards to take away… Garden Gnomad Postcard Album shows a few of those candid photos.

The events have given me a chance to talk about the various approaches to community agriculture that I have seen, as well as to play with this awkward, recycled, low impact ‘garden machine’.

Weather permitting, Garden Gnomad will be taking photos and recording conversations at the Means of Production Community Garden on the next three Wednesdays from 10am-12pm (July 8, 15, 22). Please stop by!

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Holiday reading

Done well, a garden is a poem, and the old lesson of gardening is the same as poetry: what is not there is just as important as what is…. What have I thought about gardens? What advice do i have? Only this: Gardens are metaphors for who we were, are and will be. Patrick Lane There is a Season (2004, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

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Stone Soup Postcards

I enjoyed some lovely conversations with growers and eaters at the Stone Soup Festival on the Britannia Centre grounds near Commercial Drive in East Vancouver yesterday. Garden Gnomad emphasizes dialogue without much structure. There are of course themes emerging:

– emergence!: people are starting gardens (of course, it is spring). Many people tell me that they are gardening for the first time; or they are planning to start gardening; or they know of someone who is gardening in a unique or experimental way and they want to tell me about it. Urban gardening seems like an emergent activity that is of interest to many (maybe MOST!) urban dwellers.

– People are facing gardening to solve what they see as unacceptable food issues: poor quality, high priced, poor selection. They worry about the pollution created by food distribution to urban areas… and many other issues concerning food security.

– As new gardeners, people’s knowledge about growing food and making gardens is uneven. People are eager to share information but their answers are contradictory. This is kind of fun because it makes people talk to each other more, and argue and think and go back on line to find answers or go to places like ‘City Farmer’ to ask people with more experience.

– The machine in the garden is awkward but still a curiosity. Those who are savy sees it as an awkward, though free, tool that could be replaced by a pocket sized iphone. Those who know little about computers appreciate hearing that they could put together this machinery for free by putting in some hours at Free Geek. They like hearing about open source software and seeing how easy  to manage solar power has become.

– I hear a lot about other mobile interfaces with gardening. Of course, this is the city and everything in the city is on the move. Here is a report of a rooftop community garden that required a bicycle: YWCA’s rooftop garden

I have loaded a pile of postcards that have resulted from my first garden visits and the two public appearances of Garden Gnomad at the Mount Pleasant Community Centre’s Earth Day and Britannia Centre’s Stone Soup Festival in the Garden Gnomad Postcard Album.


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Garden Gnomad is out there!


Yesterday I took GG out on the first garden visit to meet Ruth Tschannen in her Camphill Community’s beautiful Cascadia Garden. She was very generous to show me all of their well tended gardens and work spaces (including a barrel for ritual stirring of organic water to be distributed out into the community and carefully tended compost piles and containers). Ruth is really like a homeopath for gardens and for the community of disabled adults and their families who work and live at Cascadia. Besides tending the beautiful surroundings they work on theatre (plays, puppetry) and music and probably a lot more.

Ruth mentioned how she has noticed that when gardeners get together in conversation they begin to make communities. Gardeners have a lot to say to each other and a lot of ideas and materials to share.

Inspired by the Cascadia garden, I spent the afternoon preparing a little bed with snap peas, swiss chard and nasturtiums in the back lane. I put a little willow-woven fence around it.

I have started an album for the GG photo-postcards here:
Garden Gnomad Postcard album

Photos of Garden Gnomad in action this week at the Means of Production Community Garden and other sites are here:
Garden Gnomad in Action album

Saturday, April 18 (1-3pm) – Garden Gnomad will be at the Earth Day Celebration at the Mount Pleasant Community Centre (16th & Ontario, Vancouver, BC) as part of the MOPARRC meet & greet. Mt Pleasant CC is one of the supporters of MOPARRC Events & Activities. Lori Weidenhammer as Madame Beespeaker will be there eco-tagging the site from 11-2. Sharon Kallis, another MOPARRC artist will be at the Means of Production Community Garden (6th & St Catherines) hosting a garden work party.

Sunday, April 26 (1-4pm) – Earth Day Artists Tea Party at Means of Production Community Garden. This is the first of three public celebrations resulting from three artists in residence at MOP. On-site performances from a number of local performers combine with garden-brew teas and other goodies.

Keet tract of MOPARRC events here .

Saturday, May 9 (12-5) – Garden Gnomad will be at the Stone Soup Festival at Britannia Centre (Napier & Commercial) where issues of urban agriculture is combined with artworks of all kinds.

At all of these events, I am hoping to pick up some dates for visits to gardens and farms… and give away a lot of gorgeous garden postcards!

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Getting Closer

Garden Gnomad is getting ready to visit some gardensGarden Gnomad packed up for travel

Garden Gnomad is getting closer to being road worthy. I hope to take it on a garden visit this week and the Mount Pleasant Community Centre’s Earth Day on Saturday, April 18 (I will be there from 1-3). It will also appear at the Britannia Centre’s Stone Soup Festival on May 9.

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Great Farm Trek at UBC!

The Great Farm Trek to save UBC Farm was more than Great – it was Fabulous! The weather was the warmest and brightest that it has been in this city since fall and people came out in Great numbers to support that very special site for learning, research and community development. I don’t know how crowd numbers are measured, but I do know that the crowd stretch out at least 2 blocks behind us. I enjoyed the walk with the Queen Bee (Lori Weidenhammer) and Ullie (a juvenile drone?). The Queen has a long history of volunteer support for UBC Farm and her performance attracted a lot of interest amongst visitors and the press. [But where was the major press? – I didn’t see any press units from CBC or any of the others… ] I took the Garden Gnomad sandwich board, with photos from the Banff Centre gardens and a removable text for the cause: FARM UBC!! (why not farm it all!)

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