Back to the future of green

The greenness of Richmond and the Garden City Lands can be observable and measurable, according to guest blogger Bruno Vernier.

This post started out as one of several insightful comments on the previous “What should ‘green’ mean?” post. The comment was about Richmond becoming spring green, as you’ll see, and I found the writing itself to be spring green. With Bruno’s permission it’s become something more, as spring green things do. Over to you, Bruno:

Back in Richmond’s pioneer days at the end of the 19th century, some of the people who owned Richmond land lived in Victoria or New Westminster and just left it “as is,” speculating for resale. Others lived on the land and made improvements to it, usually starting with the construction of dykes and ditches, followed by agricultural activity. Thus was born the Garden City, feeding young and fast-growing Vancouver.

Today, it seems that the people who own ALR Richmond land are often either leaving their plots “as is” (speculating on the stability of ALR rules) or doing some seemingly half-hearted agricultural-ish activity. It is not the Garden City anymore. I am told, for example, that not a single farm in Richmond is certified organic. Regardless of the valid reasons for this state of affairs, we can hardly call Richmond a green model.

To me green has a spring quality to it: It implies enthusiasm, a youthful spirit, something to buzz about, something to want to emulate, replicate, and propagate. Early Richmond had a spring green quality to it.

To me the best example of green in Richmond is Terra Nova Rural Park. We are so fortunate to have such a green place. It is so full of buzz, with so many projects and enthusiastic people attracting ever more projects involving ever more enthusiastic people. It is a new spring, budding promisingly, producing a new crop of fresh possibilities.

In brief, green = youthful, enthusiastic, breakthrough, buzzing projects that actually make improvements to our land.

 What would be some indicators of the greenness of Richmond?

  • The number and size of local farmers markets, CSAs and food co-ops
  • The proportion of food-producing gardens on residential properties
  • The number of community gardens
  • The proportion of edible perennials, bushes and trees on city properties
  • The proportion of parkland set aside for wildlife (unmowed, buffered, corridored)
  • The proportion of strata councils with comprehensive zero-carbon plans
  • The number of students enrolled in appropriate skills courses
  • The number of wild species
  • The existence of annual biodiversity counts
  • The number of people making a living helping improve the land

Like—and along with—Terra Nova Rural Park, the Garden City Lands have great potential to spread green, helping Richmond to become green again in observable ways like those. Because of size and location, the Garden City Lands can accomplish far more than Terra Nova Rural Park alone. Richmond could be the Garden City once again.

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