Vancouver – Farm Town

Today I am preparing for the Great Farm Trek 09 to Save UBC Farm… sod hat; sandwich boards… photos to come. Come out to UBC to support the FARM! APRIL 7, 3:30! farm-trek-email

As for other farms inside Vancouver, on Saturday morning Carl, Sarah & I met with Ward Teulon of City Farm Boy who spent a couple of hours showing us around his backyard (and front yard and side yard) gardens. We heard about ways to intensify food production in small spaces. His knowledge of chemical inputs in agriculture and ways to reduce or mitigate them in small scale but intensive food production is awesome. What a resource he is for this city!  He operates a CSA grocery service, sells at farmers’ markets, adopts backyard gardens and rooftop gardens, and has all kinds of great ideas for local food production. Here is one of his early spinach crops:


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Fond Farewell

sunflowersproutsThe BNMI Liminal Screen Residency officially ended 5 days ago… but here in Vancouver it was extended by visits to the city this week by Kate, Mary and Dick. It was a huge pleasure to meet, talk with, walk with, eat & drink with… sing along with, gaze vistas alongside … all of these participants & advisors:

Veronique Chance (London) | Nina Czegledy (Toronto) | Kristine Diekman (San Jose) | Dick Van Dijk (Amsterdam) | Ruth Gibson (London) | Bruce Gottlieb (Berlin) | Ed Jordon (Montreal) | Scott Kildall (LA) | Erika Lincoln (Winnipeg) | Willy Le Maitre (TO) | Bruno Martelli (London) | Mary Oliver (Manchester) | Kate Rich (Bristol) | Jesse Scott (Vancouver then TO) | Dana Shukster (Medicine Hat) | Greg Staats (Ontario)

Thank you everyone for your good questions and inspiring ideas. The vey best wishes for your projects. KEEP IN TOUCH!

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Open Studio – text & image

For the BNMI Open Studio Event, I prepared this handout about Garden Gnomad. It includes a list of related art and garden actions that have influenced and inspired me during the residency: Open Studio Garden Gnomad Handout

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Ending the Residency

BNMI Open studios & plant give-away

The end of this residency at the Banff New Media Institute is clearly in sight. Like the others, I am scrambling to get ready for the open studios that will happen tomorrow. The plants from this garden for distraction will, I hope go home with some of the visitors.


Dana Machovec’s workshop about sprouting as a means to produce food indoors was a big treat over at JPL. The lounge was very warm with the early spring sun beating into the atrium lounge. And, Dana, an expert at hospitality, provided iced wheat grass juice, a sprout salad, soup that incorporated the rinses from the sprouting process as well a complex blend of sprouts, miso, seaweed, sprout-topped guacamole nacho chips and many other types of sprouts to try. Dana’s talk demonstrated both the interest, skill and will that is a requirement for integration of indoor food production into one’s lifestyle. Since then, I have been enjoying the sunflower sprouts that Dana left for me in my studio -the gift that began our conversations. Dana Machovec is willing to engage in questions about sprouting or food production or nutrition while living in Banff or ?:  danamach[at]

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(These photos were taken on the GG camera by Bruce Gottlieb, another Liminal Screen participant.)

I had an interesting studio visit with Pamela Jennings today. We discussed the ways that Garden Gnomad functions as a social networking project. I am resistant to making it a formal (on line) networking project beyond using a list serve, a blog and maybe a facebook group, but I am very eager to make it work informally: setting up meetings as it seems appropriate, passing on seeds from visit to visit, urging participants to mail each other postcards, etc.

Pamela told me about , a project to record stories that went BIG. The stories collected in a cute little recording booth at Grand Central Station or a mobile airstream are automatically sent to the Library of Congress and have been a regular feature on NPR.

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garden slogans

garden slogans

I want to take Garden Gnomad in some form to the Great Farm Trek in support of saving the UBC Farm: UBC Great Farm Trek

Slogans for the GG sandwich boards?:

Garden Gnomad [heart] learning farms | UBC Needs a Farm | Teaching Farm: Farm Food For City Fools | Garden Gnomad Pictures the Farm | Eat Farm Food | Grow more than a row | Farm a bigger allotment | Farm Allotment More | Save the teaching farm | Know how to farm?: Save the teaching farm | Learn Farming: Save UBC Farm | Everybody’s Gardening but where are the farmers? | The city needs farming | Save Farmland | Urban Farmland is the Heartland

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Sprouts! presentation handout

The reference list for Saturday’s Spring! Sprouts! workshop is here:

SPROUTS! Reference list

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texts, ideas, other works

The Butterfly Garden by Mike MacDonald at The Banff Centre

The Butterfly Garden by Mike MacDonald at The Banff Centre

I am surfing and inspired:

The late Mike MacDonald (1931-2006) left a butterfly garden between the two buildings containing art studios at Banff Centre (between Glyde Hall and the Jeanne & Peter Loughheed Building). His website as well as the gardens remain:

In an interview with MacDonald, John Grande teases out some relationship between MacDonald’s use of video and the healing nature of his garden projects (and quilts). MacDonald evades this association and tells how the video camera accompanied him into contested territories and zones of conflict where he was providing video documentation services. He describes how the butterfly continually entered the frame and thus began his awareness of the butterfly’s significance in various aboriginal cultures and its importance as a signifier of ecological disruptions:

Case Study: Olympia's Free Tap

Case Study: Olympia's Free Tap

On Kate Rich’s advice, I looked over Sarah Lewison’s site . There I  found this totally compelling use of video and web documentation: Case Study: Olympia’s Free Tap. The site offers straight-up footage of the unidentified users of a freely flowing water tap in Olympia, WA. Some text below explains how this ‘quasi-legal’ public tap is sometimes threatened with privatization. In the title strip for the page (above the url in my browser) there is this text that runs by, like a LED sign:

Katalog: Question: How is it possible to examine something that is part of a big system so that the people are part of it and so they might have a different relationship to it as a resource? Resource: Water | Case Study: Olympia’s Free Tap |

I am taken by this common view of the commonplace (the ‘commons’) standing in for an analysis of our relationship to resources and property. “Commonplace” only for the people who have known the tap to be running for a long time. It is infact far from commonplace to have a common place like this one. I could cry for the way it seems so ordinary (historic, tribal, biblical…) but is so unusual for North American cities today.

I want to let Garden Gnomad investigate the relationship of people to the natural resource of food through conversation and observation. As I struggle with making a web presence, Case Study: Olympia’s Free Tap inspires me to look and listen for questions and gaps in urban food production, land use and how people’s relationship to those things sometimes shifts.

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Spring! Sprouts!


Garden Gnomad presents on the first day of spring –

A hands-on information session
about indoor food production with
local (Banff Centre) grower of nutritious & delicious sprouts

Dana Machovec

Saturday, March 21, 2-3pm
3rd Floor Atrium Lounge, JPL
Everyone invited – No cost –

Garden Gnomad, a dialogic and documentary work about urban agriculture, is being developed by Lois Klassen at BNMI’s 2009 Liminal Screen Residency.

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Rosemary & Time

Today some tiny shoots are visible in the Rosemary section of the studio garden. That is the last to germinate of the four species that I planted eleven days ago. The marigolds & sunflowers took four days to come up; the nasturtiums seven, and the rosemary eleven.

During this residency, I am taking a lot of time to look at other art that is being made on the topic of urban agriculture. Here are a few:

Re:Farm – It looks like this is a Sweden/Spain group that is developing forms of container gardening that utilize some robotics for lighting and watering.

Farmlab – is a group that investigates land use, sustainability, urban health and more through cultural events, art production and thinking. They are the team that produced Not a Cornfield Project an ambitious transformation of 35 acres of downtown LA into a cornfield. I see on the Farmlab blog, that goats have recently had temporary residence on the site (the cornfield site, not just the blog site!)

Gardenlab, Edible estates, Animal Estates – are some of the projects by Fritz Haeg… I think of his zeal to convert front yards into artwork/gardens in cities throughout the western world. The gardenlab in 2001 was a site of dialogue about urban agriculture and land use.

Soft Core NYC – is a new project that was (still is?) in development at the last residency here at BNMI. Laura Silver is working on a tour of gardens and compost in NYC. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this one.

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