Urban Farm on Vancouver’s infamous Hastings Street

Urban Farm location by the Astoria Hotel, E. Hastings St, Vancouver

The above location is about 2 blocks north of where I live and work, and if you walk down to the water another 7 or 8 blocks to the northwest, you’re standing on the birthplace of Vancouver. The Hastings Mill was built there in the late 19th century. Lumbermen skidded their logs to the mill along a “corduroy” road made of timbers and logs greased with fish oil. That road traveled along the stretch of Hastings Street that you see here and then down Dunlevy Street, as it’s known today. The road was lined with cheap shacks and hotels and is the origin of the term “skid row,” a distinction that I’m sure must give Vancouverites a sense of civic pride. Today Hastings Street frightens visitors from New York, but it’s not particularly unsafe as long as you’re uninvolved in its local economies; it just looks disturbing because it’s the headquarters of drug use, homelessness and prostitution. The city has continued to try to contain and concentrate those things here since the early 60s, so it’s just getting worse. That’s the Astoria Hotel there in the photo, with its relatively traumatizing beer-and-wine store and a bar that’s suddenly gone hipster and one of the best neon signs in the city and you can’t cross Hastings to buy a cheap bottle of wine there without getting propositioned by johns. I mean if you’re a girl. The empty lot to the right of the hotel has been sitting unused for years and is now, amazingly, going to the be the site of United We Can’s “SOLEfood” Urban Farm, below. It’s an excellent project and I’m volunteering to dig. Come by on Saturday! More info here, news story here and in the Globe and Mail.

Urban Farm location by the Astoria Hotel, E. Hastings St, Vancouver

United We Can's Urban Farm on Hastings

You can see downtown Vancouver in the semi-distance at left. If you just keep walking west along Hastings for 15 minutes, you’re there. The mountains that you can see are north and northwest. Thank goodness for Google Street View, because it’s raining and I didn’t want to walk over and taken my own photos of this corner.

4 comments on "Urban Farm on Vancouver’s infamous Hastings Street"

  1. We were out in droves, a tonne of media. It really took a lot of work by about 7 or 8 people to make it a reality and we had to really hurry because of BC tax laws. But if all goes well we will get our reclassification and grow food their locally and organically for a few years. I think all the coverage and volunteer turnout will help us with our funding and I think next time we work on the farm, you’ll see some politicians. Thanks for the help and blogging it too.

    1. No problem! Everyone go look at the pre-fab shed; I worked on it. What an amazing organization! You guys did a brilliant job and those were fun volunteers, and competent too.

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