radicle beets

A Brief History of the False Creek Flats by radiclebeets
May 29, 2012, 6:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Once upon modern geographers’ vision of time, land rose up from under 2 km of ice. From this land mass a proliferation of people, plants and animals grew.  An ecosystem inhabited by several complex human cultures and peoples thrived on this land mass for the better part of 11,000 years. People of the Squamish, Halkomelem and Straits language groups communicated across bountiful rivers, ocean inlets, tributaries and straits.

From distant lands foreign people unfamiliar with the place came to explore and to settle. One of the European captains, George Vancouver, took it upon himself to stamp the land with his name. Along with a name these people brought swift and violent change to the area. In 1865 Captain Stamp, so appropriately named, built Vancouver’s first sawmill and quickly set to work falling Vancouver’s ancient (and enormous) Douglas Fir trees. Within a generation, one of the world’s great swaths of Coastal Temperate Rainforest was reduced to a patchwork of early industrialization. As the forest fell so too did the spiritual traditions of the lands First Peoples. Keep these people in mind, for they will continue to suffer silent, violent and extreme repression for the remainder of our story.

In 1879, a bridge over False Creek (present day’s Main Street) was connected to farming communities in Richmond, leading to the establishment of False Creek’s symbolic first industrial building – a slaughterhouse. From the eastern side of this bridge, near to where the slaughterhouse was built, a large tidal marsh stretched to present day Clark Dr. in the east. Unlike the present day concrete paved on its receding body the marsh was navigable by canoe at high tide


Map of Vancouver, 1898, showing reach of False Creek.

In April of 1910 the City of Vancouver gave the final 160 acres of the 221 acres of the Eastern False Creek Flats to the Canadian National Pacific Raliway, under the agreement that the company would spend at least $4 million to fill the marsh and build a rail line and hotel (this is how the Hotel Vancouver was born). This they did, and by 1950 local news people proclaimed that “False Creek is nothing more than a filthy ditch in the middle of the city…slops gather on shallows and banks and fester in the sun until, at high noon in the summer, the stench is often sickening.” What exactly was used to fill the flats seems a lost piece of history – though it is held by some that at least a part of the fill came from the levelling of Burnaby Mountain. Garbage and other waste materials were likely also used to fill the flats.

With 11 sawmills, 16 sewage outfalls and a growing network of iron works, machine shops and manufacturing plants, even the City of Vancouver admitted in 1928 that “The False Creek industrial district has been permitted to become an eyesore and menace to public health.”

Greatly reduced in size after the mud flat filling, the waterway of False Creek remained a menace to public health until 1967, when City planners began to pursue a new direction for the creek’s future. From this time forward, the waters’ shoreline has been developed into green walkways and ritzy condominiums for the province’s rich. While more greenspace and less industry now grace the waters of False Creek, the filled in landscapes of the False Creek Flats have remained symbols of industrial development, with the notable exception of Strathcona Park.

Rail lines surrounded by industrial wharehousing, manufacturing and processing facilities still dominate the eerily flat concrete landscape of this one time tidal marsh. China creek, now buried under concrete, used to run into the south east reach of this waterway. In the 1880’s early Chinese settlers raised pigs along the banks of this creek, while the European C.C. Maddams grew fruit and berries for much of the City. Complaints about the “constant shooting of waterfowl” in the tidal marsh were common in 1901, when birds outnumbered humans in the flats. Known by countless generations before us, the diversity of this unique, vanquished tidal marsh is lost (for now) but not forgotten. Our wetland reclamation project imagines a future in which this diversity can once again thrive.


Aerial Photos by radiclebeets
May 29, 2012, 5:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Aerial Photo, 1950

From UBC Geography Department’s photo archives, this photo shows the area around the current site of our garden in 1953.

Above photo zoomed in on our food forest site at center. Look at all those trees top left!

This is a picture from the 60s (food forest at center). The current wharehouse next door was built in the 70s. What’s that big white thing in the top left? You can see it in the photo from the 50s as well.

No Skunk Cabbage… Yet by radiclebeets
May 29, 2012, 2:22 am
Filed under: In the Media | Tags: , ,

An awesome article by Eryne Donahue of the BC Wetland Federation on our wetland and remediation project – more to come on that from us, soon…. but for now, check it out here.

All hail the queen! by radiclebeets
May 27, 2012, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Beekeeping | Tags: , ,

When looking into a beehive and seeing the important work being done–gathering and preparing food, raising young, teaching about the wide, 2-mile-radius world outside, and of course dancing!–it feels like this is a monarchy that could work… or is it a monarchy?  Anarchism?  Pheromone-communicated after-the-fact decision-making based on a collective view of what is really important?  Hmmm…. it’s a bit hard to translate what goes on in there to our society, but there’s definitely something compelling about it.

Most people we talk to about beekeeping (whether on the bus, at a family dinner, or even while balancing precariously on the Thistle table, taking down our hive equipment and proudly offering some of the bees’ own hard-earned honey) have a story to tell, or some fascination about bees that just needs an outlet!  And hopefully that outlet is provided in the Thistle beekeeping group, with weekly opportunities to geek out on bee knowledge, expand our own experience and teach others.  The reward of learning something in theory (such as how to catch a swarm, or the controversy-laden issue of how to move a hive between 2 metres and 2 miles, and off a roof!), and to immediately be able to put that into practice, is a deeply satisfying one.

So, what is up with the Thistle honeybees now?  This past week we welcomed in (with an appropriate buzzing flurry) the last of this season’s bees, and the hard-working ladies are all settled in at our new food forest site.  Last Sunday, we moved the last remaining hive from the roof of the Mergatroid building, and on Wednesday we picked up a nuc (short for nucleus, a condensed hive of bees that quickly expands, if all goes well!) and installed it at the food forest site.  The beekeeping group (all of us!) is learning a lot during our weekly hive inspections, and more are taking the EYA apprenticeship this season!  As well as weekly inspections, we are hoping to run a few more workshops this season, to talk about important beekeeping topics such as the routine hive inspection, beekeeping year (what to be on the lookout for throughout the year), disease and pests, honey harvesting, and overwintering.  We’re also going to be planning out what we’d like for our bees in their new site—wind shelter, a nice flowering barrier from people walking through the site, a platform for the hive boxes, a shed to store equipment out there, and… what else?

Okay, off to walk (or fly?) the talk… hive inspections today!  Let’s hope the weather holds up!

Notes from the Food Forest Design Group by radiclebeets
May 27, 2012, 5:58 am
Filed under: Food Forest

An awesome group of 12 of us met Wednesday at the Thistle to geek out on plants.  We were working on designing specialized guilds – mutually beneficial plant communities – for each of our trees.  We also discussed inoculating with fungi and establishing microclimate guilds.  Here’s what we came up with:

All-Purpose Guild Plants

These  ones were included in almost every design – they certainly bear repeating

Comfrey – perennial. biomass, nutrient accumulator, medicine & tea

Yarrow – perennial. nutrient accumulator, insectiary, pest-repellent, medicine and tea

Nasturtium – self-seeding annual. insectiary, pest-repellent (or diversive), food

Clover – perennial. nitrogen fixation, food

Chives – perennial. pest-repellent, food

Fennel – perennial. insectiary, food, medicine & tea

Chamomile – self-seeding annual. insectiary, pest-repellent, medicine & tea

Calendula – self-seeding annual. insectiary, pest-repellent (or diversive), food, medicine

Lovage – perennial. insectiary, food
















Asian Pear





Queens Anne’s Lace




Winter savoury

Native berries

Cherry / Pear / Plum




Queens Anne’s Lace





Korean Licorice Mint



Lemon Balm
























White Asparagus







Walking Onion







The wind that shakes the rye – – – ~ by radiclebeets
May 10, 2012, 6:20 pm
Filed under: Food Forest | Tags: , , ,

Last night the Food Forest Design Pod had its first meeting.  15 awesome folks came to share ideas, perspectives, and do some applied armchair gardening – otherwise known as permaculture design!  We took a sunset stroll through the unusually windy Vancouver evening to see the rye grains bend beneath the breath of the night one last time, talking about the history of the land and how we’ve prepared it so far for its new role as a beautiful and bountiful forest garden.  Then we talked and played a card game to identify permaculture principles at work and explore how we could further apply these ideas to our design.


We’ve split into small design groups to design guilds (mutually beneficial plant communities) to take care of our new trees.  We’ll meet again on Wednesday, May 23rd from 8-1opm at the Thistle to present our research and take  the next steps.  Contact adamthuggins@gmail.com if you want to jump in, and take a look at the groups and photos below, why don’tcha?

Eddie, Kelsey, and Tiare – Apricot, Hazelnut

Shawn, Nick – Cherry

Beng – Tea Tree, Paper Birch

Phanh – Olive

Daniel – Pear

Matt – Apple

Adam – Asian Pear, Plum, Peach, Fig, Mulberry

Rye – our winter cover crop and spring biomass

the lay of the land

Apple blossoms on one of our young trees

our March tree planting

Eirlys and Adam demonstrate planting techniques

look how short the rye was in March!

Guest Appearances – Watershed Sentinel and BC Living by radiclebeets
May 10, 2012, 5:24 pm
Filed under: In the Media

Our project has recently been featured in the Summer 2012 issue of the Watershed Sentinel and in BC Living’s ‘BC’s Best Community Gardens.’

Check the links above to see the articles in full – below is the Watershed Sentinel piece.  Nice work, Ilana!

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