Grow DIY Manual — Book Launch

Grow DIY Manual

A project by Hol­ly Schmidt in part­ner­ship with Oth­er Sights for Artists’ Projects

Join us for the launch of the Grow DIY Manual

May 10th 2 — 4 p.m.
Pub­li­ca­tion Stu­dio – Vancouver
222 East Geor­gia St
Van­cou­ver, BC


From May 1st to Novem­ber 30th, 2011, Oth­er Sights for Artists’ Projects pre­sented Grow, a project by Van­cou­ver artist Hol­ly Schmidt. Grow was a pub­lic art project, teach­ing tool and cre­ative lab­o­ra­tory for eco­log­i­cal and social sus­tain­abil­ity prac­tices. Sit­u­ated in Vancouver’s Olympic Vil­lage, which was intend­ed as a mod­el for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment but sur­rounded by much debate; this project brought togeth­er dif­fer­ent inter­est groups, cre­ative prac­ti­tion­ers and publics to address issues of eco­log­i­cal and social sustainability.

The Grow DIY Man­ual draws from the writ­ing and cre­ative projects gen­er­ated dur­ing the Grow project. Inspired by the Farm­ers’ Almanac which is a repos­i­tory for sage advice about gar­den­ing, weath­er pre­dic­tions and can­ning recipes, the Grow DIY Man­ual brings togeth­er crit­i­cal writ­ing, illus­trated DIY projects, weath­er reports and local sea­sonal recipes. The man­ual fur­thers the reach of the project to an expand­ed audi­ence, reflect­ing upon its lega­cy while look­ing for­ward to future possibilities.


Designed by Nigel Laing, the Grow DIY Man­ual resem­bles a sim­ple chap­book to be used for day-to-day ref­er­ence. It includes cre­ative crit­i­cal writ­ing by artist and writer, Randy Lee Cut­ler and artist, cura­tor Bar­bara Cole. Grow artist, Hol­ly Schmidt Illus­trated a series of DIY gar­den projects and under­ground chef Alexan­der McNaughton pro­vided advice and recipes for procur­ing and cook­ing local, sea­sonal food. A con­ver­sa­tion between Hol­ly Schmidt and writer, Mag­no­lia Pauk­er frames Schmidt’s art prac­tice in rela­tion to the Grow project, vital mate­r­ial and social practice.

Pre­sented by Oth­er Sights for Artist’s Projects, the Grow DIY Man­ual is part of an on-going series of pub­li­ca­tions that speaks to the organization’s inter­est in the aes­thetic, eco­nomic and reg­u­la­tory con­di­tions of pub­lic places and pub­lic life. The pub­li­ca­tion is avail­able through Read Books and can be pur­chase on-line through Oth­er Sights’ website.

Place Order

Goodbye Grow

Novem­ber 30th came quick­ly, and sad­ly  the Grow project is now fin­ished. The few remain­ing plants from the Bulk­head Urban Agri­cul­ture Lab have found their way to new homes. Our lit­tle anjou pear tree is being plant­ed at the Ever­green Urban Orchard locat­ed at the Great North­ern Way Cam­pus where it will flour­ish and hope­ful­ly bear fruit in the spring.  Thank you to every­one for vis­it­ing the Lab, hang­ing out, chat­ting, eat­ing, gar­den­ing, water­ing and in gen­er­al enjoy­ing the space.

Many thanks to all of the Grow vol­un­teers who shared their time and exper­tise to keep the Grow site grow­ing over the past 7 months.

Chloe Ben­nett, Meaghan Buck­ley- Pear­son, Kim Coop­er, Michael Corbin, Ocean Dionne, Stephanie Doerk­sen, Gal­lop Fan,  Gen­dreau, Liz Glowac­ki, Alex Grunen­felder, Hen­ry, Lyn­dl Hall, Valerie Halpin Jones, Tero Juu­ti, Emmi Jor­malainen, Janet Hamil­ton, Kent Hous­ton,  Helene, Leslie Ann Ingram, Ger­ald Joe, Lois Klassen, Maria Keat­ing,  Nigel Laing, Mike Lev­en­ston, Mau­r­izio Lozano, Kevin Lui, Ari­ann Man­gas, Anne Maison­neuve, Moshe Mas­tai, Stephanie Mauer, Joanne McDon­ald, Dianne McNair, Alexan­der McNaughton, Ali­cia Med­i­na Ladda­ga, Eklas Miller, Pablo, Kristi­na Parusel, Patri­cia Phuli­jen, Cather­ine Pulk­ing horn, Maia Rowan, Chris­tine Strauss, Stef St. Loe, Chelsea Trous­dell,  Julie Wall, Nik­ki White and Car­ol Zhang.


Featuring Green with Jason Packer

On what was prob­a­bly the worst rainy, cold, windy day this fall, Jason Pack­er, sus­tain­abil­i­ty con­sul­tant with Rec­ol­lec­tive brave­ly took an eager group of peo­ple on a tour through the Olympic Vil­lage to point out the green fea­tures of the devel­op­ment.  Many of these fea­tures are inno­v­a­tive but large­ly invis­i­ble unless some­one such as Jason points them out.  By the end of the tour we all real­ized how impor­tant edu­ca­tion is to under­stand­ing and active­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing in a sus­tain­able development…more on that later.










We met out front of Creek­side Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­tre and began the tour with a dis­cus­sion of what makes the cen­tre LEED Plat­inum — sys­tems such as rain­wa­ter col­lec­tion for irri­ga­tion, toi­let flush­ing and solar pow­ered absorp­tion chillers all con­tribute.  The reuse of rain­wa­ter is quite vis­i­ble if you’ve ever used the facil­i­ties at Creek­side, while the chillers on the roof are only vis­i­ble from the upper floors of near­by buildings.

Absorp­tion chillers use waste heat (usu­al­ly steam or hot water – in this case, heat­ed by the sun) to gen­er­ate cool­ing. Inside the absorp­tion chiller, this heat is trans­ferred to a brine solu­tion, caus­ing evap­o­ra­tion. The result­ing fresh water vapour is con­densed and sprayed onto pipes hold­ing water that will cir­cu­late inside the build­ing, cool­ing it. Due to a strong affin­i­ty between the con­densed brine and the fresh water spray, the brine attracts and reab­sorbs the spray. ” (read more) This is the first time a sys­tem like this has been used in North Amer­i­ca and so far north.

As Jason point­ed out, sub­tle design fea­tures can have an impor­tant impact.  This can be seen in the solar pow­ered trash cans.  Pow­ered by a solar pan­el on the top, the cans are built to com­pact the trash put in them.










We moved on to look at how storm water is col­lect­ed and then used for irri­ga­tion to sup­port the plants, trees and grass grow­ing in the area.  For exam­ple the roads are sloped into the cen­tre to fun­nel “dirt­i­er” rain­wa­ter into either clean­ing gal­leries below ground or into Hinge Park for fil­tra­tion by plants.










Hinge Park fea­tures a bioswale which looks like a marshy wet­land, dense with with water plants and ducks. This envi­ron­ment was con­struct­ed to calm the water, allow­ing it to be fil­tered and then released into False Creek.

Although numb with cold, every­one was real­ly engaged so we vot­ed to walk with Jason to the Neigh­bour­hood Ener­gy Util­i­ty. This facil­i­ty takes waste heat from untreat­ed urban waste water and trans­forms it into heat and hot water.  Since the Olympics the NEU has pro­vid­ed 70% of ther­mal ener­gy for South East False Creek.









The NEU is tucked under the Cam­bie Street over­pass and com­ple­ment­ed by a com­mu­ni­ty gar­den that was recent­ly installed this spring.  Through large open win­dows and por­tals you can get a sense of the inner work­ings of the facil­i­ty that is essen­tial­ly trans­form­ing poop into heat.  One our par­tic­i­pants was real­ly dis­ap­point­ed to see pipes not poop when look­ing down one of the por­tals. It makes me real­ize how much of sus­tain­abil­i­ty requires a shift in cul­tur­al norms — we pre­fer not to see the waste we pro­duce, let alone think about how it could be useful.

On our way back to Creek­side we stopped to take a clos­er look at the Salt build­ing which was built in the ear­ly 1930s to refine salt shipped from San Fran­cis­co.  The build­ing has a Gold LEED stand­ing for it’s re-use of nat­ur­al mate­ri­als, ven­ti­la­tion and light­ing. At the moment the build­ing sits emp­ty, how­ev­er, dur­ing our stop a team of peo­ple were prepar­ing it for a one time event.









The Salt build­ing sits on the main plaza and is intend­ed to be a cof­fee shop, restau­rant and brew pub — even­tu­al­ly.  The plaza has poten­tial as a gath­er­ing space which is impor­tant in sup­port­ing social sus­tain­abil­i­ty.  Cur­rent­ly, the space is used inter­mit­tent­ly for events but with­out retail at street lev­el most of the foot traf­fic remains near the sea wall. It will be inter­est­ing to see how this sit­u­a­tion changes over the next few years.









Jason wrapped up the tour in the lob­by at Creek­side, where we could get warm and ask ques­tions.  We con­tin­ued to chat for anoth­er hour, tap­ping into Jason’s exten­sive exper­tise. One of the dis­cus­sions that real­ly stayed with me focussed on the need for edu­ca­tion.  It became appar­ent that there is a dis­con­nect between the sus­tain­abil­i­ty fea­tures built into the devel­op­ment and the poten­tial to enact sus­tain­abil­i­ty as a res­i­dent.  While res­i­dents are pro­vid­ed a book­let of infor­ma­tion and some green clean­ing sup­plies when they move in, there aren’t any oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn in a more in-depth way about how the devel­op­ment func­tions and how they can con­tribute to the over­all cre­ation of an envi­ron­men­tal­ly and social­ly sus­tain­able neigh­bour­hood.  As Jason point­ed out, it isn’t real­ly clear who would be respon­si­ble for fill­ing this gap although the need is evident.

This dis­cus­sion remind­ed me of the many res­i­dents of the Vil­lage that I’ve met over the sum­mer who are both inter­est­ed and com­mit­ted to learn­ing and con­tribut­ing to the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the area.  I won­der if these oppor­tu­ni­ties will ulti­mate­ly come through their col­lec­tive orga­ni­za­tion rather than cor­po­ra­tions or government.



Artists and Gardens: A Growing Concern

Schmidt is an artic­u­late mem­ber of a new tribe of social­ly engaged artists who are com­mit­ted to cul­ti­vat­ing com­mu­ni­ty gar­dens and urban agri­cul­tur­al plots as works of pub­lic art. Their cre­ative roots extend into a num­ber of post­mod­ern move­ments, from Fluxus and earth art to rela­tion­al aes­thet­ics and new genre pub­lic art, and their role is often to co-ordi­nate and facil­i­tate rather than man­u­fac­ture and lec­ture. As demon­strat­ed by the Grow project, such artists are hap­py to con­sult the experts—biologists, agron­o­mists, hor­ti­cul­tur­ists, land­scape archi­tects, com­mu­ni­ty workers—for pub­lic lessons in the keep­ing of mason bees, the cre­ation of ver­ti­cal straw­ber­ry planters, or the build­ing of back­yard chick­en coops. Demon­stra­tions and work­shops are an inte­gral part of the process…read more

Excerpt from Robin Lau­rence’s arti­cle in Cana­di­an Art on-line, “Artists and Gar­dens: A Grow­ing Con­cern.” Novem­ber, 2011.



Seeds From Grow

The Grow Seed Exchange brought about some seed shar­ing at the Creek­side Com­muntiy Centre.

If you hap­pen to be the hap­py recip­i­ent of one of the Grow seed pack­ages but don’t know a lot about plant­i­ng and grow­ing the seeds look for details below.







Orach (Moun­tain Spinach)

-Grow in spring or fall

- sun­ny to part­ly shady

- well drained soil, can grow in containers

- will grow up to 4 or 6 ft.

- bright red colour

- pick young leaves to eat, leav­ing old­er leaves to help sus­tain the plant

- easy to care for

- sow seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep







Cilantro (Chi­nese Pars­ley or Coriander)

- direct sow in the spring and con­tin­u­ous­ly into the summer

- grows to approx. 20 inches

- pro­duces tasty leaves used in range of Latin Amer­i­can and Asian dishes






Bronze Fen­nel

- sow seeds in spring or summer

- use fronds, stalks and root to pro­vide a light licorice flavour

- likes well drained soil and lots of sun

- easy to grow

- Peren­ni­al that will grow to 2 ft. in first year







- peren­ni­al shrub that over­win­ters on the west coast

- dif­fi­cult to grow from seed

- fresh and dried leaves are used in cooking

- well drained soil

- start indoors in vermiculite

- slow growth rate







Thai Basil

- Basil belongs to the mint family

- used in cook­ing and for aromatherapy

- easy to grow

- rich well drained soil in a sun­ny location

- Start indoors and then move out­doors in June when it warms

- har­vest frequently








- beau­ti­ful scent

- can be used in cooking

- mod­er­ate­ly difficult

- full sun and well drained soil

- start from seed indoors in the fall to ready them for spring







Mus­tard ( or is it horse­rad­ish seeds?)

These horse­rad­ish tast­ing seeds were donat­ed by one of the many con­trib­u­tors to Grow.  I don’t have too many details on them but if you’re feel­ing exper­i­men­tal, please give them a try.







Indi­an Mint (Sat­ure­ja dou­glasii, not a true mint)

- ten­der ever­green perennial

- mint scent­ed leaves make a good tea

- grows in long trail­ing vines with small white flowers

- prefers shade and moisture

- makes a good ground cover








- used for pick­les, soups, sal­ads etc…

- easy to grow

- needs sun to par­tial shade








- the flow­ers attract bees, birds and oth­er pollinators

- can grow as high as 10 feet

- easy to grow

- plant from mid- April to mid- May in a sun­ny location








- easy to grow

- full sun and moist soil

- spicy tast­ing leaves and flow­ers — great for salads

- sow at the begin­ning of March








- beau­ti­ful bright pur­ple flowers

- sow in the spring

-easy to grow

- like sun or part­ly shady areas


I also high­ly rec­om­mend the West Coast Seeds web­site for pur­chas­ing seeds and learn­ing more about how to sow them.

Grow Walk

Saturday November 12, 2011

1:30–3:00 (rain or shine)

Meet at the front doors of the Creek­side Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­tre (fac­ing False Creek)

1 Ath­letes Way (map)

Oth­er Sights is pleased to present the final walk for the Grow project.

Please join Jason Pack­er, sus­tain­abil­i­ty con­sul­tant with Rec­ol­lec­tive for a live­ly walk through the Olympic Vil­lage.  Jason will dis­cuss the green fea­tures of the devel­op­ment and how these inno­va­tions reflect the chang­ing land­scape of sus­tain­able design.  How can sus­tain­abil­i­ty be built into our urban envi­ron­ments and enact­ed in every­day life will be explored in this walk­ing dialogue.

About the presenter:

Jason draws on a vari­ety of edu­ca­tion­al and work expe­ri­ences in his role as sus­tain­able build­ing con­sul­tant. With an hon­ours degree in Admin­is­tra­tion, a diplo­ma in Build­ing Tech­nol­o­gy and sev­er­al years work­ing in the build­ing trades, Jason is ded­i­cat­ed to apply­ing his expe­ri­ence to help devel­op effec­tive green build­ing strategies.

He has vol­un­teered with a num­ber of envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions includ­ing the Light­house Sus­tain­able Build­ing Cen­tre and is a mem­ber of the BC Sus­tain­able Ener­gy Asso­ci­a­tion work­ing to pro­mote renew­able sources of ener­gy. Jason has worked on a num­ber of LEED and Liv­ing Build­ing Chal­lenge projects and is par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in LEED for Neigh­bour­hood Devel­op­ment, urban design and com­mu­ni­ty based solu­tions to envi­ron­men­tal issues. Despite his fas­ci­na­tion with sus­tain­able build­ings, tech­nol­o­gy and urban design, Jason is hap­pi­est out­side in the woods.

Register for Grow Walk: Jason Packer Discussing the green features of Olympic Village  in Vancouver, British Columbia  on Eventbrite

Potatoes and Tomatoes

It’s har­vest time at the Bulk­head Lab. While many peo­ple have been help­ing them­selves to the boun­ty there’s still ample amounts of pro­duce to col­lect.  This past Sat­ur­day Nigel and I dug around in the cof­fee sacks and were very surprised.









The Cecile red pota­toes did very well in par­tic­u­lar. Out of a five bags of soil we man­aged to get a large gro­cery bag filled with potatoes.



















We did­n’t just find pota­toes in these sacks. It turns out there was some pret­ty healthy insect life in the sacks.  This spi­der was very pho­to­genic. Any­one know what kind it might be? It was pret­ty large.











The toma­toes have been a pop­u­lar fea­ture at the Bulk­head over the sum­mer. Look­ing at the cold wet fore­cast ahead I decid­ed to bring them in despite not being full ripe.  My orig­i­nal plan was to wrap them in paper to ful­ly ripen them, how­ev­er, while I was har­vest­ing a woman told me you can pick­le the lit­tle green tomatoes.










After hav­ing attend­ed a work­shop with local chef Andrea Pot­ter who spe­cial­izes in wild fer­men­ta­tion I have to admit I’m pret­ty curi­ous about pick­ling things. Does any­one know of some good recipes for pick­ling toma­toes? I’m open to suggestions.




The evening of the Swarm 12 event was pret­ty spec­tac­u­lar. The weath­er was beau­ti­ful and the sun­set on the water incredible.

Alexan­der McNaughton local urban farmer, wild for­ager and cat about town pre­pared and served some fresh sam­ples of organ­ic food from the local foodshed.










The menu for the evening included:

Klip­pers Organ­ic Acres (Sim­ilka­meen-Okana­gan)

Gold­en rac­ing stripe and red beets



Ele­phant Heart plums

Mac­in­tosh apples

Ear­ly Gold apples

Cape goose­ber­ries

Pass­port and Galia melons

Basil  + arugu­la (might peppery!!!)

Toma­toes (heir­loom assortment….including Russ­ian pur­ple plum, French jaune flamme, green zebra, striped roman, vin­tage wine, peach Wap­sip­ini­con, and many more)











Sole Food (Down­town Eastside)

Late sum­mer strawberries

Cropthorne Farms (Fras­er Valley)

Rain­bow Carrots

Lit­tle Qualicum Cheese­works (Qualicum)


Bleu Clair

Fro­mage Frais


Lois Klassen’s (Back­yard)

Fresh Figs

Nico­la Val­ley Api­aries (Mer­rit)


Grow Seed Exchange

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Mul­ti-pur­pose Rm. 1
Creek­side Com­mu­ni­ty Centre
1 Ath­letes Way (map)

The nights are get­ting dark­er, the days crisper and the leaves are start­ing to turn. As fall is now here, we want­ed to take a moment to acknowl­edge the hard work and effort of all the peo­ple that con­tributed to Grow with a spe­cial event called the Seed Exchange.

As Grow draws to a close, we’ve been col­lect­ing numer­ous seeds from the Bulk­head Lab to share at the Exchange.  In an effort to dis­perse Grow broad­ly we invite every­one to plant these seeds around Van­cou­ver. If you have some seeds of your own that you would like to trade, pop them into envelopes, seal and label with the date and seed type and bring them with you. Expand your range of veg­gies, herbs and fruit by trad­ing your radish seeds for a neighbour’s kale seeds.

Please, drop by between 7:00 and 9:00 on Wednes­day, Octo­ber 26th for some great organ­ic food, con­ver­sa­tion and a live­ly seed swap.


Register for Grow: Seed Exchange in Vancouver, British Columbia  on Eventbrite

Windermere’s Organic Garden

Win­der­mere’s organ­ic gar­den team joined us at Grow to share their work in aquapon­ics and urban farm­ing. They also helped out with water­ing and gar­den­ing with on site.  They are a knowl­edge­able crew, mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the world.










Win­der­mere Organ­ic Gar­den was first cre­at­ed by two Lead­er­ship stu­dents in 2007, start­ing off with 3 gar­den beds in our school’s court­yard. Through­out the years, the sig­nif­i­cance of local gar­den­ing has been val­ued more and more and Win­der­mere Organ­ic Gar­den is cur­rent­ly home to 13 gar­den beds, a Ver­ma and Indus­tri­al­ized com­post­ing sys­tem, an Aquapon­ics sys­tem, and a 16’ X 20’ green­house.

To learn more about their gar­den check out this video.

To learn more about their aquapon­ics sys­tem check out this video.








Stu­dents worked with Jody Peters from Back­yard Boun­ty and the EYA to set up this unit.  They are cur­rent­ly work­ing with gold­fish but hope to move on to tilapia soon!