Agrarian life within the conveniences of the city may seem like a dream. However, if you plan on moving to an urban farm in Metro Vancouver or elsewhere in B.C., there are some things to keep in mind before you make the plunge and leave your apartment life. This especially goes for moving into a home with a yard, or intending to lease city-zoned land for your new farming adventure. There may be other options available to you, which you’ll also want to consider. If you’re new to farming, and the idea of urban farming has tweaked your interest and motivated you to move, read up on some of what we’ve found.
Note: Moving to start an urban farm in the Vancouver area is not quite like moving to a hobby farm. We’ve written about that subject here, and encourage you to take a look there as well.
Urban farming on city properties is on the rise, but might not be totally legal yet
Last year in Vancouver, a move was made to begin the legalization of urban farms in the city. It wasn’t that there weren’t urban farms in Vancouver at the time. But more that that zoning and licensing wasn’t quite clear. Urban farms in Vancouver are already established, which you can see on the list here, by the Vancouver Urban Farming Society. Vancouver’s current urban agriculture policies can be read on its site here and here (they are, essentially, now allowed).
And in 2012, MacLean’s magazine was already writing about the popularity of urban agriculture, and the way of going about it for some.
But we often don’t associate city life with farming. In fact, it would be a sight to see if your neighbour’s front lawn and backyard were covered in crops. A garden, yes, maybe. But an entire lawn?
The idea seems wonderful to some, but we have to expect that neighbours can complain. There are designated agricultural areas set up by city governments. But now, those without big investment dollars are wanting to get into farming life. And running a huge, generational farm may be prohibitive to some. Are we turning back to middle-ages-style agrarian life?
While the City of Vancouver may have opened up the opportunity for its residents to start residential farms, surrounding areas in Metro Vancouver or the Fraser Valley may not be as clear. For example, below is a page from the City of Surrey’s website, which talks about agriculture and zoning, but doesn’t quite define laws for ‘urban farms’ or ‘residential farms’ (at the time of writing):
Surely, there may be more deeply buried rules that were overlooked in our search. But apparently, someone who wants to move to start an urban farm would need to do some hunting to find out if their operation would be legal, or even just, in the ‘gray zone.’
Googling these subjects also doesn’t often bring many results.
The next place to turn is to learn the experiences of existing urban farmers. One urban farmer in Kelowna is Curtis Stone. His business, Green City Acres, leases residential yards for a sustainable farming operation. His argument for urban farming, stated on his website below, is that there are millions of acres of lawn in North America, which are unproductive by growing mere grass. They can be otherwise turned into economic opportunities.
He was once visited by a bylaw enforcer, and explains his experience in this video:
By that video above, it seems that neighbours can complain, but the enforcement of ‘gray zone’ laws around agriculture is iffy. And that’s just one person’s experience in one city. So it goes without saying that it can be a toss, when it comes time for your local officers to decide if what you’re doing is ok.
In short, urban agriculture is starting a new booming industry, but the governments may not yet be up to speed on the laws that may be needed to regulate it. For example, would you want goats raised in your neighbour’s backyard? Vancouver allows chicken pens in backyards, but not roosters, which can disturb residents. So things like this will likely come up in your quest to start an urban farm. Before you move, remember that you may need to be adaptable. You might also need to be available to lobby for your rights with governments, if need be.
Consider other options before moving to start an urban farm
If you want to start an urban farm, and are willing to move to do it, there may be other options, or even interim solutions for you.
Move to land in the agricultural land reserve that is close to the city
There are some pre-zoned spots near cities, and not necessarily in cities, where you could buy or lease a farm. If you read about this Burnaby farmer’s story, you’ll see that space was available in Burnaby under the agricultural land reserve.
Farms are also available for leasing if a current farm owner can’t upkeep the land, or for other reasons. These can be found at the following site:
Lease your lot to an urban farmer and enjoy the vegetation
Some urban farmers, like Curtis Stone, look for yards they can farm. If you moved to start an urban farm, and feel the task is too daunting, or if you just want exposure to urban farming, you can consider leasing your front and back yard to a local farmer.
Now, we should mention that you might be exposed to the same legal vulnerabilities mentioned above!
See if you’re eligible for government help or subsidies to move to a farm
The Government of Canada, and perhaps other governing bodies, may have incentives to get farmers (especially young ones) involved in the industry. Whether or not this turns out to be for urban farming, you should learn more about what is available, in case it becomes an option for your farming dreams:
Urban farms are now seen not just as residential farms, but as vertical farms in building structures too. For example, one vertical farm tried to operate in a Downtown Vancouver parking lot (but failed).
If your city allows, you may be able to find a way to grow food indoors through aquaponics, or other methods. Some companies are going full force on this idea, which you can read about in this article by Vox news. Of course, this would require more investment, since you wouldn’t just be moving to a residence to start an urban farm, but you’d be looking at leasing commercial space.
Join a community farm
There are many community-based farms where neighbours can volunteer to start a bed and care for it.
There are also community supported agriculture (CSA) programs you could support to get local fresh vegetables. It’s not the same as owning your own farm, but it can be a gateway into the healthy lifestyle of farm table eating.
Start small with a personal garden and grow your operation from there
If you live on a lot currently, you could still start a small-scale garden. As you learn more about farming, you may start acquiring equipment to make your gardening or future farming life easier. This can be a slow way to get into the business, where you learn most of your mistakes and perform your trials in advance of going ‘all in.’
For example, you’ll learn about rainwater harvesting and composting, which you could start at your current home.
Learn about farming before moving an urban farm
If you are really a green thumb at farming, it would also be wise to take the time to get to know more about the industry. It can be a lot more than planting seeds in the ground.
For example, Kwantlen has a farm school. Or, you could take courses by someone like Curtis Stone (mentioned above).
Keep up to date with urban farming news
As you wait on your decision to start an urban farm, keep up to date with the developments in urban farming.
This search on City Farmer will tell you about the legalities of urban agriculture throughout North America, or even the world:
Hey, who knows, you might use those cases to present to your local authorities, for policy change, if need be.
To conclude: moving to an urban farm in B.C. cities is not an impossibility (we think)
The trend for farming near cities seems to be growing. People are more aware of the environmental impact of farming in large scale fields. Plus, there is a market for local food. So it makes sense that farms can grow in cities (pun intended). It may be a matter of time before more local governments change bylaws to allow for urban farms – or at least to make those bylaws clearer.
For now, if you’re willing to try it, you might set an example for the cities to consider. But we strongly urge you to learn more about the matter, and consider it a business: get as much professional help as you can before beginning.
Not only that, wherever you move, your lot should be suitable for farming. Don’t run into a situation where you haven’t inspected the yard for crop viability!
In the Vancouver summer, it is easy to procrastinate before a move. Who can blame you for not wanting to pack for your move a few months before your Vancouver moving company arrives? It is understandable that you still need to live in your house and use your stuff, but there are some genuine Vancouver Packing Tips to help you pack for your move while keeping your home livable.
Here are 5 steps to help you pack for your move far in advance of moving day.
1. Get moving boxes that are all the same size
It may seem like a good idea to bring home random shapes and sizes of moving boxes to fit your various sized items that need to be packed. It is actually better to get the same sized moving boxes for everything so that come moving day the boxes can be packed more easily into a moving van. It can take moving companies a lot longer to pack up mismatched boxes into a moving van and this can end up costing you more money, especially if you are paying your movers by the hour. This may mean getting larger boxes, so you should still make sure that your boxes are easy to lift. You can do this by packing only a few heavy items in each box and surrounding it by lighter items.
2. Reduce the clutter before you begin to pack for your move
Consider that all of the things that you move to your new home will take up space in boxes and in the moving van and will take up time and energy to move. This should motivate you to get rid of the things that you don’t use BEFORE you move. A good rule to go by is if you haven’t used an item within the past year then you probably don’t need to hold onto it. This rule works for clothes, kids toys and broken things that you plan on fixing but haven’t gotten around to in the past decade (we’ve all been there). Don’t wait to get rid of clutter until the week before you change houses. You can start de-cluttering as soon as you decide to move since you won’t be needing those things anyway.
3. Pack non essential items first
Another task you can complete early on is to pack non-essential items first. Non essential items are things that you don’t use very often so you won’t be needing them until you move to your new place. You can pack picture frames, miscellaneous decorations and out of season clothing items that won’t be missed. Store the boxes in the garage or a spare bedroom so you can continue to live in your home without having to maneuver around moving boxes all over the house.
4. Pack for your move room by room and label the boxes
This may seem obvious, but it will make your job of packing and unpacking much simpler if you pack according to room. It can be overwhelming to try to pack the entire house at the same time, so just focus on one room at a time. You can set a goal to de-clutter and pack one room completely before moving on to the next room. After you complete each room you can take a well deserved break and reward yourself with a nice cup of tea or a special treat. Once you get into your new home you will be very thankful that you packed according to rooms because it will make your unpacking go so much easier. After going through the trouble of packing your moving boxes by separate rooms, don’t forget to label the boxes so the movers know where to put them in the new house!
5. Get all house members involved in packing for your move
Packing doesn’t have to be reserved for the adults in the house. If you have kids they can help declutter and pack up their own rooms. When tackling corporate living areas like the kitchen and the living room, you can also work together with all the members of the household. Set house goals for packing and once you complete your goal for the day, do something fun with all of your helpers. This will make your packing experience less of a chore and more of a household bonding experience.
It’s easy to follow these 5 steps, so no more excuses! Get packing! If you start to pack for your move earlier, the stress leading up to the move should be reduced and your overall moving experience will be much smoother!
And as always, look to our moving checklist for a good overview and to keep everything accounted for both before and after your move.
What is the average cost of moving? Cost of Moving in Vancouver
Whether or not you chose to hire the genius businessman who thought of turning moving into business, you will no doubt incur unavoidable costs when relocating. Many of these costs of moving in Vancouver are hidden, and probably not something you’re prepared for. Not only that, trying to get the lowest price for moving services or products can in turn have you paying more in the end (i.e. think lousy boxes that shatter your wedding china and movers who chose to ‘throw’ instead of ‘pass’ furniture).
Here are actual moving costs you’ll be looking at when moving in Vancouver:
The moving truck, and the movers
If you hire unprofessional movers, they will charge based on either distance or hourly — plus hidden costs like stairs, travel and fuel surcharge. There are horror stories of moving companies who offer cheap rates but treat your belongings like trash or, even worse, hijack everything until you pay a ransom to get them back. That being said, go with a reputable company even if it means more money up front: get free binding estimates and check out their moving company reviews and credentials.
If you get friends to help, you not only have to pay for the rental truck, but you’ll need to consider how to repay the favour, be it as little as pizza on moving day or a thank you gift afterwards.
Your regular homeowner’s insurance may not cover moves, so you’ll have to purchase some — likely from the moving company you’re dealing with. Always discuss the insurance policy with the moving company beforehand so there are no surprises. Take pictures of your belongings, especially the valuables, before the move. Print them and mail them to yourself to prove their former condition. That’s an extra $10 or $20 for photos right there.
Trucks guzzle up a lot of petroleum! The farther your move, the more you can expect your gas costs to be. Not only that, you may be driving your own vehicles at least once, if not back and forth filled with smaller items. Calculate your gas costs based on mileage, then add a few hundred to that number because you are likely under estimating.
Full days of tiresome moving, when pots and pans are in boxes and stoves aren’t installed means you’ll be eating out a lot. Depending on the distance you’re going, take-out dinners could last days. If you’re traveling across the country, factor in accommodation at hotels too. This is definitely going to go over your monthly grocery bill.
All that and we haven’t even gotten to the part where you unpack and settle in! (Always helpful before you move is to check out our online packing videos for proper packing techniques.) The above pointers cover the costs of just the move. Of course consider that before you leave your old home you’ll need to clean and make minor repairs. At your new home you’ll find that you may not have the shelf space you had before, or that light bulbs are missing and drapes are non-existent.
Trips to home stores will add to your moving costs, so be sure to factor them in. Truth be told, only you will be able to estimate your cost of moving based on your needs, family size and household items. Use the above points as a guideline to research a reliable figure.
In response to a cbc marketplace segment about bad movers scamming clients, Lorne MacInnes President of Ferguson moving & storage put together a 5 minute presentation for his local bni networking group. The movie trailer was designed to get people as excited about moving properly and avoiding pitfalls so many fall into.
Most people hate moving and thats why so many mistakes get made. Lorne discusses moving can actually be enjoyable if you embrace the process. Surrounding yourself with a moving company that wants to make sure you are looked after before during and after your move.
Packing for a move is much more intimidating than packing for a holiday. It’s much more than clothing that needs to be packed. It’s your entire home. In addition, there are still items you need to use before you move. Items in the kitchen such as coffee pots, cups, plates, knives and forks. You not only need to pack, but you also need to time everything just right.
Every day we are told to reduce or minimize our footprint and live green. When you move, that is when most people realize how much stuff they have. Worse, most is stuff they don’t even want or use.
Packing Tips for Moving
1. Get the momentum going by starting to sort right away. Donate things you no longer need or want and throw away junk you don’t want to move.
Come move day, if you’ve packed and labeled really well, your move will be so much better. Especially at the destination residence you’re moving to because boxes will be moved to the correct rooms and you can unpack in whatever priority you desire.
A piano can make a strong grand noise, but it all depends on the intricate details on the inside. Moving a piano, therefore means preserving all its beautiful sound-making parts, not to mention its royal appearance.
Different types of pianos require mildly different steps, but the precautions are roughly the same for the large, small, upright and three-legged alike. If moving a piano is part of a larger household move, you’ll have more planning to do, and more to consider about the logistics of the move in conjunction with everything else you’re transporting. However, if the piano move is part of a single sale, or the only item requiring your attention, you should find things a lot less stressful.
Firstly, of course, you’ll need to close down the lids and moving parts and seal them shut. Although the insides are the most important, you need to protect the outside of the piano. The top finish on the instrument can easily be scratched and scuffed while moving, even when wrapped in blankets (because of the constant shifting and rubbing). To protect the surface, you’ll need to invest in a lot of saran wrap. That’s right, wrap, wrap, wrap, all around!
Second, you’ll need to protect the piano from vibrations, bumps and thumps. There are special moving supplies to help you do this. For example, moving blankets help protect furniture, and moving pads prevent damage in the truck when objects bang against each other (an inevitable part of moving). When you’ve got a layer of blanket covering the layer of saran wrap, tie down the blanket with rubber bands to prevent it from falling off. The even better investment would be a custom-made piano cover, often used at concert halls.
If you are moving a grand piano, you may find it useful to remove the legs, so that it stays put during the ride. Different models have different ways of attaching the legs, so you can either consult your manual (if you still have it), or call your local instrument store for advice. If your piano has casters (wheels mounted to the legs) and you plan to move it in one piece, you’ll at least need to remove the casters when its time to go onto the trailer or truck.
If moving an upright piano, be sure not to let it lay on its back. Before you wrap it up, remember to leave access to the handles that are pre-built into the instrument. The bottom of an upright piano may have a storage space in it where you can keep some loose things. A strong built dolly is highly advisable when moving an upright piano, especially if there are no castors attached.
Pianos are best lifted onto an enclosed moving truck alone. However, if your piano must accompany other furniture as part of bigger move, keep it at the bottom of the truck, on a padded surface, taking extreme care not to overload it with things piled on top. If you are using a trailer or pick up truck, you’ll need to protect it from weather conditions. Either way, make sure the insides have an air hole for good air circulation to prevent moisture build up. When your piano is at its new spot, you may need to retune it.
At the end of the day, most people are best off to hire professional piano movers to handle this daunting task. Don’t be fooled into thinking a piano is something your friends can help with. Pianos are large and extremely heavy and could cause personal injury or death if not handled properly.