Last summer, residents of Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek neighborhood were drawn into an unusual artistic experiment. On a vacant lot littered with the rusty remnants of the neighborhood’s industrial past, artist Holly Schmidt led volunteers in designing, building, planting,and harvesting a thriving container garden.
The Grow Project and the Bulkhead Urban Agriculture Lab began germinating long before the first seeds were sown and ended long after the harvesting of carrots, mustards greens, pumpkins, and other crops. A concatenation of performance art, sculpture, social practice and still unnamed forms of emergent creativity, Grow was a year-long event that took up sustainability and knowledge exchange as a fluid process of gardening, workshops, walks and other public events…
It may not have been the nadir of my dimness, but it was certainly the most twitlike thing I did last weekend. Believing the end time was the start time, I arrived at the Grow project’s mason-bee workshop three hours late, just after the participants had left. Still, the enthusiasm of artist Holly Schmidt and landscape architecture student Chloe Bennett shone on undiminished. Standing in the middle of what’s been dubbed the “Bulkhead Urban Agriculture Lab”, a public-art project on the south shore of False Creek, just west of the Olympic Village, they generously shared their knowledge and insights.
A cold wind blows off the grey waters of Vancouver’s False Creek. On a grassy promontory, just west of the Olympic Village and north of the former city works yard, a garden is being dismantled. Large planters, fashioned out of repurposed shipping bags and perched on second-hand wooden pallets, have yielded up their summer bounty of herbs, berries, grains, vegetables and edible flowers. Workshops have been given, walks have been conducted and seeds have been exchanged. More importantly, the garden has sown a large crop of community interest and environmental involvement.