one acre of opportunity or one big bad idea?

So last week I get an excited phone call from my hubby:

Amrik wants to know where his veggies are!


Amrik supplies my hubby’s contracting company with kitchen cabinets. He owns five acres in Richmond. There has been idle chat between the two of them about us using part of his land to grow veggies for some time. We’d looked into the cost of renting land and decided we just couldn’t justify it on our so-tight-it-squeaks family budget.

But there was a new development this week – Amrik will be happy to let us use it in exchange for veggies. One whole acre.

So Saturday we drove out to take a look at this spot of land that could swallow our 30 x 108 lot whole.

richmond land

Not exactly the lush pastures I’d imagined.

I couldn’t help but think of the Thomas Edison quote:

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

There is work, and then there is just a plain old bad idea. I’m not sure which one this is yet.

Initially the space had been described to me as a field with a skiff of gravel. One benefit of having a contractor for a husband, the prospect of a day with a bobcat moving an acre of gravel doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Until we call Amrik and ask how deep the gravel is.

Two feet. TWO FEET. Oooooo-k.

Part of me looks at this barren piece of land wedged between the river and the railway and thinks – I would love to transform this. I would love to take just a tiny piece of this and heal it. Bring in some compost, some landscaping fabric, build some raised beds and slowly reclaim this tired and sad bit of earth. Plant some flowers, bring in some bees and slowly, slowly, bit by bit, put it back together.

But then I think about numbers and logistics and the distance from the water to the plot and my squeaky, squeaky family budget. Not to mention the amount of time and the new baby . . .

I look out across the vista and in my minds eye can see forage for bees, the back fence thick with wild-flowers, a patch of grain, a huge bed of potatoes and room enough to feed me and my family and a few more to boot . . .

What do we do? Do we try to take back this bit of land piece by piece or do we keep looking?

What would you do?

3 thoughts on “one acre of opportunity or one big bad idea?

    1. The Slow Foods Mama Post author

      I know, hey?? All the land in that area seems to have been used as dumping ground for rough-pack for roads. It is right on the Fraser River and the spot must have been amazing farmland once upon a time – it is such a fertile valley. So sad.

      I still can’t help but think how nice it *could* be. Me and my bleeding heart. I tell ya.

  1. Arzeena

    I’m going to reply here instead of via Twitter – just too much to say that 140 characters can’t capture. Two feet of gravel is also known as contamination. So this property owner made a killing accepting fill from somewhere else, at about $100 a dumptruck load, and now you have to pay to clean it up? I think NO!

    Walk away… And I don’t say this lightly. I desperately want more people farming in Richmond but you shouldn’t be doing this heavy work. It’s the property owners’ responsibility to clean up their own mess (which, BTW, was totally illegally done) . I have other acreages for you so don’t feel you’ve missed out.

    E-mail me and I’ll tell you other properties that are clean and you don’t have to worry about all the crappy work that this property will saddle you with.


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