Microcosm: Community Garden

Being from a small town in Upper Bavaria, the concept of farm to table has been something I was introduced to very early. We would get our milk from the neighbour’s cows and know exactly which field your veggies and meat came from. It was only when I moved to Vienna that I got a taste of how luxurious that lifestyle had been. Instead of researching the best way to get fresh vegetables and meat from a farmer’s market, I went the lazy route and cut down on meat and bought my veggies from the closest supermarket. I had been so used to having fresh, local produce available at all times that it didn’t occur to me that I might have to make an effort to keep eating local.

16 Oaks Community Garden Oak Street

Visiting Vancouver for the first time in September 2012 changed my perception for good. Here was a city that revolved around the “Buy local, Eat local” mantra. There were community run gardens all over the city, bee hives on top of buildings and farmer’s markets every other day. In short: People gave a sh* about what they eat.

Fascinated by the widespread attitude of conscious planting, buying and eating I read the Canadian staple “The 100-Mile diet” and came to think that growing your own food would not only make my urban life healthier and cheaper, it would also bring back the joy of knowing where things grow and when something is in season. And it would taste so much better too.

Creekside Community Centre Garden

Two years later I look back on a summer full of beets, lettuce, carrots, beans, tomatoes, peppers and hundreds of cucumbers (the lemon cucumber was growing to a frightening size).

Our community garden plot is just a block away from our home, meaning that you will be able to enjoy the most lazy shopping experience ever. But it comes at a price: You have to get your hands dirty and water regularly (nice side effect, you will suddenly appreciate living in the ‘Wet City’).

The fun of trading cucumbers with zucchini or dropping bags of produce on all your friends because you can’t possibly eat it all will make up for it though. It will give you a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude, that you discovered the best of both worlds. The perfect symbiosis of country and city life.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Kitsilano Farmers Market Heirloom Tomatoes
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10 Signs of Becoming a Vancouverite

The place you live changes you. For the better and the worse. Leaving my German “Pünktlichkeit” (punctuality) behind and cutting back on the infamous “Direktheit” (brutal honesty) has come naturally. Some things though, like addressing your employer or instructor with their first name or shouting a heartfelt “Thank you” to the Bus driver still take some courage. But I start feeling the change and despite being a “Working Traveller” on paper, I feel closer to becoming a Vancouverite already.


1. The 24/7 Yoga Outfit

To the coffee shop, to the bank, meeting a friend for lunch, at the grocery store, to the park, in class, on public transport, at the beach, in restaurants, in the pub. They are everywhere. Yoga pants are the uniform of Vancouver’s women. Casual, comfy and flattering, it fits almost any activity of the day – hard not to see the benefits of that. For me as a European this is a new definition of effortless style and it didn’t take me very long to embrace it.

Note from the author: A velour track suit or the very popular parachute style (Berlin) are definitely not accepted in public in Vancouver. If you are unsure about the rule set, consult your nearest Lululemon sales assistant.

2. No Umbrella

Big news – it rains a lot in Vancouver. But you will hardly find a local carrying an umbrella with them. You invest in good (looking) rainboots and a stylish rain jacket, but umbrellas are tourist wear. Toughen up!

Dylan King Red Umbrella                                  Source: Dylan King Photography

3. The Bacon

Maple Bacon Donuts? Eww. My first reaction was disgust. Meanwhile, about a year later, I like to eat my Sunday waffles topped with raspberries, maple syrup and some bacon. Yes, I am a convert.

4. “It’s local!”

Having people over for dinner? You better check where your beets are from. Knowing each and every origin of your dinner supplies is crucial for hosting a dinner party. Even better: Get a Community Garden lot and serve the best introduction possible “They’re homegrown”. Jackpot.

5. Own a Growler

The Growler has become a collector’s item and at the same time is a way to express your enviro-friendly self. The further your branded beer container has travelled, the more nods from bearded men you will get at the brewery.

Note from the author: I am not talking about animals here. A Growler is a 1,9l refillable jug for craft beer.

Growler at Brassneck Brewery

6. No  Smoking

Having lived in Vienna for six years I got pretty used to yellow stained walls and constant cigarette smoke around. Vancouver is the complete opposite. Vancouverites don’t smoke. Well, let’s say they don’t smoke tobacco.

7. Be Active

Run, Hike, Paddle – Vancouverites love the outdoors. And there is no excuse. Heavy rain? Pack an extra set of clothes. Snow? Throw some snowshoes on. Heat? Well. Okay. Let’s go to the beach then…

8. Kale, Quinoa and Kraft Dinner

Kale is the arugula of the 21st century. Just salad does not fulfill any yoga-triathlete-crossfit-practicer. Kale is the Vancouverite’s superfood of choice. Only quinoa might be a competition. Or Kraft Dinner. Not celery though (Have you seen this awesome Portlandia episode starring Steve Buscemi?).

9. Hike in MEC

Owning a piece of MEC is crucial to survive the daily city grind. And if you are out on trails, MEC is everywhere. Just like Germans are easy to spot in their trafficlight-coloured Jack Wolfskin gear, you will be able to identify the Vancouverite. Only their Return policy is more loved than their gear.

10. Fear the Wildlife

You’ve stopped requesting a bear sighting in the city. While tourists get very excited about spotting a bear on top of Grouse Grind or seeing a coyote warning sign at Charleson Park, you get excited if there is no wild animal crossing your path. Bears and cougars don’t really phase you much, you care more about that racoon in your garage or the skunk in your neighbour’s garden.

Bear Warning Whistler