City planners and citizens often see gardens as spaces for urban beautification projects. However, urban agriculture and growing food in cities is becoming an increasingly accepted use of public green spaces. This article examines how gardeners and the City of Vancouver negotiate space while trying to create green cities, greater awareness of food security issues, and community in urban environments. These gardens show how local discourses of health, environment, and food production are created through this process of appropriating urban spaces for horticultural activities. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores the development of spontaneous and grassroots urban agriculture movements in Vancouver. This research was carried out from 2006 to 2008 while the city was preparing for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. At this time, Vancouverites, local officials, and Games organizers were concerned about putting on a “green” Games. As the media spotlight began to fall on Vancouver, urban agriculture became a very public demonstration of the city’s environmental awareness. This article looks at how, at a particular historic moment, grassroots gardening movements gained mainstream acceptance and played a role in constructing the city’s image as an environmentally aware urban place with a high standard of living.
This article will build upon research I undertook in co-curating Culinaria: Early 20th-Century Cookbooks in the Prairies, an online exhibit beginning in late spring 2013 at the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Beginning with a personal account illustrating the real-life sharing of recipes that has occurred in the Prairies between cultural groups, this article will trace such sharing in Prairies community cookbooks. As all Prairies settlers dealt with the same relative isolation and limited ingredients, neighbours of differing ethnic groups adapted and exchanged recipes that worked in the Prairies climate. French community cookbooks contain recipes for chop suey (an influence from the Chinese restaurants in nearly every Prairie small town), German community cookbooks contain recipes for cabbage rolls, Ukrainian community cookbooks contain recipes for sauerkraut, and so on. Such sharing in fact enabled somewhat of a common culinary base unique to the Prairies: indeed chop suey, cabbage rolls, and sauerkraut appear in nearly every community cookbook, as do, for related reasons, rhubarb and saskatoon pies.
Food and cookbook history in the Prairies has been little studied, presumably because the only real cookbooks published here in the first half of the twentieth century were community cookbooks (differentiating the Prairies situation from that of Ontario and Quebec), and these books largely survive only in private homes. This is gradually changing, as libraries begin to recognize the value of community cookbooks in reflecting, and contributing to, the culinary history of the Prairies.
In this article, I explore three Northwest Territories (NWT) cookbooks from the 1960s. The first cookbook, a fundraiser for the Anglican Church in Inuvik, demonstrates the significance of traditional Indigenous food preparations, as well as the integration of imported recipes, adapted to draw resourcefully on northern store provisions of that time. Most, if not all, of the recipes are provided by Indigenous women. The second, published by the Daughters of the Midnight Sun in Yellowknife, is a hospital fundraiser that offers a different perspective - that of an emerging population of newcomers from elsewhere in Canada and the world. While the recipes attest to the diverse roots of settlers in a growing community, they also tell a story of exclusion: one cannot help but wonder at the lack of Indigenous representation among the recipe writers, in a community built within the traditional homelands of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. The third, published by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, offers tips to northern “wilderness wives” on nutrition along with recipes that are often out of touch with the availability of certain ingredients in northern communities. Drawing on feminist and postcolonial theory, I critique these cookbooks: analyzing both the recipes and the positionalities of their writers, to explore how the north was imagined by three different, often opposing, perspectives; and offering insight into (persistent) colonial geographies of food and community in the NWT.