Georgia Straight - August 17, 2011

August 17, 2011

Georgia Straight (Newspaper)

By Matthew Burrows

East Van’s Copley Commons Community Garden project comes to fruition

A project coordinator with the Environmental Youth Alliance is calling the Copley Commons Community Garden project in East Vancouver “a dream come true”.

“We all ride the SkyTrain, and we look down and we see all these vacant lots, and we all have our dreams of, ‘Oh, if only we could grow food on that huge open space,’ ” Jodi Peters told the Straight by phone. “Well, now one of those huge wide-open spaces is going to be producing food.”

Peters said everyone is welcome at the project’s open house, happening on August 24 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the corner of Vanness Avenue and Copley Street.

“It’s a fabulous location and already gets quite a lot of traffic through the vacant lot,” Peters said. “We can see the paths that people take. The bike traffic goes along the south side and lots of people walk to get to the [Nanaimo] SkyTrain [station], so it’s a perfect place to showcase what you can do with perennial fruit in Vancouver. Lots of people get to see it, and the whole purpose of it is to give a really good productive example of perennial fruits.”

Peters and her colleagues will be helping community members to establish their own plots and grow fruit trees.

In June, city council approved a $15,000 grant to EYA for the project, as part of $110,000 in community urban agriculture and neighbourhood food security grants.

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The Drive.ca - March 2012

March 2012

http://www.thedrive.ca/copley-community-orchard.shtm (on-line)

Commercial Drive BIA partnering with EYA on community orchard project

In July 2011, the City of Vancouver began working with the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA), a non-profit charity based in Vancouver, to develop a large, 1.2 acre vacant plot of city owned land in the Cedar Cottage neighbourhood (at Vanness and Copley, just west of the Nanaimo skytrain) as a new urban agriculture initiative focused on perennial food systems.

In the early 1900s, this particular plot of land was an orchard owned by Richard Theophilus Copley and the project has thus adopted the name the “Copley Community Orchard”. EYA will collaborate with the Commercial Drive Business Society and the City of Vancouver to further engage neighbourhood businesses and residents in food and ecological projects that contribute to the sustainability of the area.

The Copley Community Orchard project will have a unique approach. Rather than the typical allotments of a community garden, larger communal tree and shrub plantings will be tended by groups of neighbours, community organizations, and school groups.

Approximately 200 new trees and over 150 fruiting shrubs will be planted on the site, which will be comprised of a youth education/production area, collective orchard, community celebration and gathering space, accessible garden beds, native garden, pollinator pasture, apiary, and heritage fruit tree area (the site already has 9 apple trees dating back to the early 1900s).

This project addresses a number of greening objectives (contributing to air quality, urban heat island effect, shading, and beautification) but what makes this project unique and distinct is that also contributes to food security in the city. Food production, particularly fruit trees, resonates with and brings people together as many will reminisce about their grandparents apple tree they used to climb and pick; we see the potential in orchards to foster an appreciation of where our food comes from, build a consciousness of the essential contributions trees make to our community, and create stronger connections to the places we live.

Please visit the project website at www.copleycommunityorchard.com for more information on how to get involved.

Project made possible by the generous support of the City of Vancouver

Cider Press / British Columbia Fruit Testers Association - Fall 2012

Fall 2012

by Jonathan Rayner

Cider Press / British Columbia Fruit Testers Association

www.bcfta.ca

Copley Community Orchard

If you take the Skytrain through east Vancouver, the elevated track passes over an open grassy field with a few old apple trees in one corner.  The non-descript lot used as a shortcut for residents heading to the Nanaimo Skytrain station a block away has been an oasis of green in the urban landscape for as long as anyone can remember.

Now, it is being transformed into a community orchard.

Earlier this year, the site came alive as an enthusiastic work party of youth and community members got busy planting dozens of fruit trees and berry bushes in the first phase of a unique project in urban agriculture.

The 1.2 acre property a few blocks south of Trout Lake near the Nanaimo Skytrain station is all that remains of a farm and orchard owned by Richard Theophilus and Marie Copley who immigrated from England in 1905.

They purchased land in east Vancouver where they built a large house which became known as the “Copley Ranch”.  The property included two greenhouses and an orchard where the family grew more than 120 different kinds of apple trees as well as cherry, walnut and plum trees.

The land was sold in the 1940’s and, over the years, was developed except for this remaining parcel which is owned by the City of Vancouver.

Establishing a community orchard here was the brainchild of Hartley Rosen, managing director of the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA), a local non-profit organization that connects youth with the land.  The organization has established 50 food producing gardens in Vancouver, several of which are used to educate and train youth in food cultivation.

“I live five blocks from the Copley property and I was enamoured with eight heritage apple trees that are the remnants of the original orchard,” says Hartley.  “I was looking to start another urban agriculture project for EYA and felt the property would be ideal.

He approached the City of Vancouver with his idea of establishing a food production project on the site.  That was four years ago.

The City was holding the property as a potential site for social housing.  However, a large sewer pipe buried beneath the site posed major obstacles to construction.  When the City abandoned its plans in 2011, the decision provided just the opportunity Hartley needed to bring his idea of an urban agriculture project to life.

James O’Neill, social planner with the City of Vancouver, says the City had also just received funding from Canon Camera to support community-based projects.

“Hartley and I had been discussing his concept for a project around food cultivation for awhile,” says James, “and the stars finally aligned.  The City’s real estate department which owns the Copley property was willing to do something with the site to make it productive and the money from Canon gave us the seed funding necessary to get the project off the ground.”

The key requirement was that the project had to be community run.  The EYA with support from the City organized an open house and invited all residents within a two-block radius of the site to participate in the development of the project.

The Community Studio, a group of landscape architects, planners, architects and engineers who do pro-bono work for non-profit community-based projects, translated peoples’ ideas and suggestions into a visual concept that was submitted to the City which approved the plan.  EYA signed a five-year licence agreement under which they accepted responsibility for the overall management of the site including safety, cleanliness and mowing the grass.

Management is no easy task.  “While EYA owns the licence with the City, the site is too big for EYA to maintain by itself,” says Hartley.  “We have been leaders in getting the project underway but our vision was always to pass it over to the community.”

This has resulted in an interesting mix of uses.  Roughly one quarter of the site is set aside for the EYA as a perennial production area and youth education and apprenticeship programs.  Another quarter is the new orchard which is being maintained by the community.  The remaining half, which includes the heritage apple trees, is being left as common area for public use.

Jodi Peters, project coordinator with the EYA, leads a core group which coordinates the day-to-day activity of the growing area and acts as the decision-making body.  Several subcommittees have been formed to handle various functions such as communications, site management, membership and finances.

“Right from the start, it was agreed this would be a social garden as opposed to community allotments,” explains Jodi.  “The community together helped design the space, decided what to plant and does the work.  For a small annual fee, residents become members which entitles them to receive a percentage of the overall harvest and have access to the education programs offered by EYA.”

Tanya Campbell, who lives across the street from the property, has been involved from the beginning and is one of the six members of the core group.

“The community response was amazing and the project has really sparked a lot of interest,” she says.  “People are very interested in issues around food security and are enthusiastic about bringing agriculture back into an urban setting.”

The excitement was tangible in the 100-strong work party that donned boots and took up shovels for the initial site preparation and planting in April.  A shed was built to house the tools and implements, two crushed limestone pathways were built across the site, and a total of 70 fruit trees and 100 berry bushes were planted.  Another planting is planned for September.

“What we’re doing is not optimal horticulturally,” says Jodi.  “It’s mostly based on trial and error but it’s an incredibly valuable learning experience for everyone.  In fact, we decided one of the subcommittees should be dedicated to recording progress such as how things are growing, keeping track of mistakes and recording observations.  There’s amazing talent and skills within the community but we’re not professional orchardists.”

As urban agriculture projects go, the Copley Community Orchard is unique because it is a community-based project.  There is nothing else of this scale and involving such a large group working collectively to maintain the space.

James O’Neill from the City of Vancouver has been impressed by what he has seen.  “It’s amazing what they have been able to do,” he says.  “It demonstrates how a project can create community and it has pushed the City of Vancouver’s boundaries about what we mean by community.  We hope it will become a benchmark to which other projects can aspire.”

The BCFTA connection

The EYA is a member of BCFTA and both Hartley and Jodi purchased berry bushes for the orchard at the annual plant sale in March.  Other bushes are sourced from several local nurseries in Vancouver.

The orchard is planted with a wide variety of trees and bushes.  While the trees are mostly apple, there are also cherry, pear, plum and peach trees as well as walnut and fig.  Berry bushes include blueberries, currants, honeyberry, jujubes, pomegranates, raspberry canes and kiwi vines.

EYA purchased the about 23 different varieties of apple from BCFTA member Derry Walsh.  This included Liberty, Gravenstein, Fameuse, Grimes Golden, Kidd’s Orange Red, Duchess of Oldenberg, Irish Peach, Jefferis, Roxbury Russet, Ross Non Pareil, Bramley’s Seedling, Belle de Boskoop, Suntan, Swayzie, Transparent, Winter Banana, Priam, and King of Tompkin’s County.

According to Derry, anthracnose canker is a major problem in the Vancouver area.  She therefore made sure that the rootstock was appropriate depending on the vigour of the varieties so as to minimize potential damage from the canker.  She supplied a mix of M9 (dwarf) for the vigourous varieties as well as M26 (semi-dwarf) and MM111 or MM111-9.

Summer 2012

Montecristo Magazine

by Taraneh Ghajar Jerven

PUTTING DOWN ROOTS
Copley Community Orchard

Nine knobby apple trees are in bloom in a verdant field as SkyTrains leaving Nanaimo Station rattle overhead. They’re relics of Vancouver’s pioneer history that, surprisingly, still bear fruit.

In 1905, when parts of East Vancouver were still elk hunting grounds, and the old Hastings Saw Mill sucked water from Trout Lake to power machinery, Richard Theophilus Copley immigrated to Canada from England and bought a vast acreage bordered west to east by Nanaimo and Rupert Streets, and north to south by East 12th and East 28th Avenues.

The retired leather merchant called his pastoral kingdom Copley Ranch, and built a grand family dwelling, West Green, for his wife, Marie, and their children. The road running between the house and the ranch went on city books as Copley Drive. It’s still there, now Copley Street, a marker of the family’s story.

Surrounded by farm and forest, Copley devoted himself to his orchards, tending apple, cherry, walnut, and plum trees. But as Copley wrote in 1910, “Of all the fruits of the universe—none have the breadth of choice covered by our loved apple. In my garden I have more than 120 different kinds and I am adding to them.” And the Copley roots run deep. Rediscovering the family story means tracing the intertwined histories of the Kensington–Cedar Cottage and Grandview-Woodland neighbourhoods. Many community members used Copley’s land: an Italian neighbour grew tobacco on it, and a Chinese family rented a greenhouse, selling their produce along nearby Commercial Drive, then called Park Drive, where only a mere scattering of general stores existed before it became the urban shopping hub we know today, a product of the First World War. Copley’s own children were part of the first generation to populate the area.

“He was a retired Englishman, loved flowers, had a fine garden, started a little orchard, and used to sell young fruit trees for 10 cents apiece,” Thos A. Greer, a neighbour, reminisced in a 1936 interview. “He did not do it for money—just for the joy of it.”

When Copley passed in 1917, his children moved back to the land. Doug Copley, Richard Copley’s grandson—now 89 and living in Victoria—was the last generation born in the West Green house, in 1923.

“My grandpa [Doug] always talks about being a kid on this giant property,” says Anna Copley, Richard Copley’s 27-year-old great-great-granddaughter. “One side of the house overlooked cherry and plum trees. East Van changed before his eyes. It was farmland, then houses.”

Around 1940, the family sold the property as subdivisions sprang up around it. Today, one small sliver of the Copley orchard remains remarkably untouched due to a sewer main that runs underground, making the land unsuitable for real estate development. Over the decades, neighbourhood kids took possession of the field, playing baseball games and other sports among the aimlessly falling fruit.

This year, however, the one-acre orchard has begun to spring back to life. An army of local volunteers—from children to senior citizens—have gathered around the surviving trees to industriously plug dozens of new young saplings into freshly dug soil. By 2013, thanks to the combined efforts of the City of Vancouver, the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA), the Commercial Drive Business Society, the space, now called the Copley Community Orchard, will bear a full harvest once again.

“What’s most unique about Copley Community Orchard is the collective nature of it,” explains EYA project coordinator Jodi Peters. “Instead of having people maintain individual plots, all the trees planted today will be cared for collectively by the membership, which is about 90 people altogether. Each and every member will reap a share of the harvest.”

The landscape design by Community Studio reflects the group’s desire for a recreational, fruit-bearing orchard park with paths, and a high-yield, trellised area where the EYA will collaborate with youth to realize the potential of organic, urban agriculture. “So far, we’ve planted 65 trees and approximately 100 shrubs,” says Peters, sitting under the old Copley apple trees with a little dirt under her fingernails. “It’s incredibly thrilling to get new tree roots in the ground.”

She rattles off a list: apples of all varieties, plums, pears (Shinseki, Chojuro, Bosc, and Anjou), peaches, blueberries, currants, gooseberries, newfangled honey-berries (a type of honeysuckle altered to bear fruit), grapes, and kiwis will all grow at Copley. “And all the pathways will be lined with edible cherry tree species, including Stella, Glacier, and Evans,” Peters adds.

The group pauses in their work to share their stories of the space. Anna Copley has just moved back to the Commercial Drive area, and she too has become a Copley Community Orchard member—much to the delight of her grandfather Doug.

Empowered as much by the memories of the older generation as the sweat put in by the younger, members of the Copley Community Orchard project will soon enough be able to relish in the fruits of all their labour.

Scout Magazine - May 25, 2012

Scout Magazine

May 25, 2012

Scout Magazine mentioned us in their article:

http://scoutmagazine.ca/2012/05/25/vancouver-would-be-cooler-if-183-it-had-its-own-free-food-forest-like-seattle/

CBC.ca - March 1, 2012

March 1, 2012

Jodi Peters and Tanya Campbell were on CBC’s Early Edition.

Click here to listen.

Montecristo Magazine - Summer 2012

Summer 2012

Montecristo Magazine

by Taraneh Ghajar Jerven

PUTTING DOWN ROOTS
Copley Community Orchard

Nine knobby apple trees are in bloom in a verdant field as SkyTrains leaving Nanaimo Station rattle overhead. They’re relics of Vancouver’s pioneer history that, surprisingly, still bear fruit.

In 1905, when parts of East Vancouver were still elk hunting grounds, and the old Hastings Saw Mill sucked water from Trout Lake to power machinery, Richard Theophilus Copley immigrated to Canada from England and bought a vast acreage bordered west to east by Nanaimo and Rupert Streets, and north to south by East 12th and East 28th Avenues.

The retired leather merchant called his pastoral kingdom Copley Ranch, and built a grand family dwelling, West Green, for his wife, Marie, and their children. The road running between the house and the ranch went on city books as Copley Drive. It’s still there, now Copley Street, a marker of the family’s story.

Surrounded by farm and forest, Copley devoted himself to his orchards, tending apple, cherry, walnut, and plum trees. But as Copley wrote in 1910, “Of all the fruits of the universe—none have the breadth of choice covered by our loved apple. In my garden I have more than 120 different kinds and I am adding to them.” And the Copley roots run deep. Rediscovering the family story means tracing the intertwined histories of the Kensington–Cedar Cottage and Grandview-Woodland neighbourhoods. Many community members used Copley’s land: an Italian neighbour grew tobacco on it, and a Chinese family rented a greenhouse, selling their produce along nearby Commercial Drive, then called Park Drive, where only a mere scattering of general stores existed before it became the urban shopping hub we know today, a product of the First World War. Copley’s own children were part of the first generation to populate the area.

“He was a retired Englishman, loved flowers, had a fine garden, started a little orchard, and used to sell young fruit trees for 10 cents apiece,” Thos A. Greer, a neighbour, reminisced in a 1936 interview. “He did not do it for money—just for the joy of it.”

When Copley passed in 1917, his children moved back to the land. Doug Copley, Richard Copley’s grandson—now 89 and living in Victoria—was the last generation born in the West Green house, in 1923.

“My grandpa [Doug] always talks about being a kid on this giant property,” says Anna Copley, Richard Copley’s 27-year-old great-great-granddaughter. “One side of the house overlooked cherry and plum trees. East Van changed before his eyes. It was farmland, then houses.”

Around 1940, the family sold the property as subdivisions sprang up around it. Today, one small sliver of the Copley orchard remains remarkably untouched due to a sewer main that runs underground, making the land unsuitable for real estate development. Over the decades, neighbourhood kids took possession of the field, playing baseball games and other sports among the aimlessly falling fruit.

This year, however, the one-acre orchard has begun to spring back to life. An army of local volunteers—from children to senior citizens—have gathered around the surviving trees to industriously plug dozens of new young saplings into freshly dug soil. By 2013, thanks to the combined efforts of the City of Vancouver, the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA), the Commercial Drive Business Society, the space, now called the Copley Community Orchard, will bear a full harvest once again.

“What’s most unique about Copley Community Orchard is the collective nature of it,” explains EYA project coordinator Jodi Peters. “Instead of having people maintain individual plots, all the trees planted today will be cared for collectively by the membership, which is about 90 people altogether. Each and every member will reap a share of the harvest.”

The landscape design by Community Studio reflects the group’s desire for a recreational, fruit-bearing orchard park with paths, and a high-yield, trellised area where the EYA will collaborate with youth to realize the potential of organic, urban agriculture. “So far, we’ve planted 65 trees and approximately 100 shrubs,” says Peters, sitting under the old Copley apple trees with a little dirt under her fingernails. “It’s incredibly thrilling to get new tree roots in the ground.”

She rattles off a list: apples of all varieties, plums, pears (Shinseki, Chojuro, Bosc, and Anjou), peaches, blueberries, currants, gooseberries, newfangled honey-berries (a type of honeysuckle altered to bear fruit), grapes, and kiwis will all grow at Copley. “And all the pathways will be lined with edible cherry tree species, including Stella, Glacier, and Evans,” Peters adds.

The group pauses in their work to share their stories of the space. Anna Copley has just moved back to the Commercial Drive area, and she too has become a Copley Community Orchard member—much to the delight of her grandfather Doug.

Empowered as much by the memories of the older generation as the sweat put in by the younger, members of the Copley Community Orchard project will soon enough be able to relish in the fruits of all their labour.