Vancouver lawn-loving homeowner says neighbours’ ambitious vegetable plot is an eyesore eating away at his bungalow’s property value
Jane Armstrong Globe and Mail Apr. 28, 2010
When Sara St. Vincent looks at the tangle of yellow kale flowers swaying in her front yard, she sees a nutritious vegetable, soon to be part of her dinner plate. What her neighbour, Ken Dyck, sees are unsightly weeds, eating away at his property values.
A messy urban conflict has erupted on a quiet east Vancouver street, pitting a lawn-loving homeowner against a group of young counterculture renters who’ve turned their front and backyards into vegetable crops.
Mr. Dyck has complained to the City of Vancouver, saying the garden is an eyesore and nuisance. Last summer, the metre-high weeds crept onto his lawn, reducing his bungalow’s property value, he says.
But Ms. St. Vincent said she and her housemates planted the ambitious garden as a way to live ecologically ethical lives. They’ve dubbed the tiny bungalow The Farmhouse and have a lively blog that charts its progress. A front-door sign welcomes visitors and urges them to live “consciously.”
“It’s super-rewarding to put your hands in the earth,” Ms. St. Vincent said, nibbling a leaf of homegrown arugula during a backyard tour. Ms. St. Vincent and housemate Ander Gates spent hundreds of hours researching, planning and planting about two dozen vegetable, herb and berry plants. The goal: to feed their house of five and maybe others too if their crops are successful.
“It makes me feel like I’m putting something back into the earth, making a contribution – not just consuming,” Ms. St. Vincent said.
Caught in the middle of the conflict are staff and politicians in a city with a bright green agenda, which has encouraged homeowners to rethink their old-school lawn and garden habits.