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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Put a Little Oom-pah in Your Life

Living abroad means that I sometimes crave the things that I take for granted at home. Like a German newspaper, the obligatory “Tatort” crime series ritual each Sunday, fresh pretzels and white sausages, or even things I would complain about in Munich. Like the public transport system. Or Oom-pah Music. Never in my life have I voluntary listened to bavarian music, except when driving with my granny in the car or visiting one of the region’s famous beer festivals. But things have changed. Recently I caught myself craving a good Oom-pah-pah for dinner time and studying seems to flow much better when there is a brass band playing in the background. This being the case, my excitement for Canadian Oktoberfest celebrations shouldn’t come as a surprise.

We visited the Bomber Brewing Oktoberfest in East Vancouver last weekend and my Canadian fiancé and I were buzzing with excitement. German sausages, beer kegs, bavarian music and a beer garden party – that’s what dreams are made of!  Riding my bike through the city in a ‘Dirndl’ (traditional bavarian dress) was also a highlight. Suddenly the houses looked more bavarian and even the air smelled just like home…but reality caught up with me and next thing I knew, we were standing in the craft breweries concrete ‘backyard’, fenced in with wire. The prison flair gave the beery neighbourhood party some edge for sure.

A legal beer festival outside – this is still a novelty for Vancouverites. No German would understand the excitement of drinking outside (!) but it is a big deal in this city. Any trace of homesickness was forgotten when I smelled the bratwurst on the BBQ and saw the white and blue flag flying overhead. Funny how the little things become so important when you’re living abroad. I didn’t even complain too much about the plastic stein or the unsalted pretzels. The music wasn’t particulary German either and the ‘costumes’ could have been offensive to my bavarian eyes. But I was on cloud nine. Teaching bavarian drinking chants to my friends and sharing Oktoberfest stories with locals made me embrace my Bavarianism more than ever. And I truly believe that everybody needs a little Oom-pah in their life.

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