The Covid pandemic has meant that many people have had to stay home,  and miss the social connections of their friends and neighbourhood.

Pratyush Dayal in The Tyee wrote this compelling article about Barry and Joan Jung who were feeling socially isolated at their home near Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth park. They had tried to have people on their block stop  by for a Christmas party, and had tried to chat with neighbours as they walked past their front lawn.

But it was not until they started gardening vegetables in their front lawn that people started to talk to them.

People started coming and asking, ‘What are you doing, aren’t you afraid that people will steal your vegetables?’” said Joan Jung. “And it invited this curiosity. We found that through the garden, people started having conversations.”

The front garden which contained fruits and vegetables instead of the expected same-old hedge and decorative flower beds became the start of gatherings, parties, seed exchanges, and thank  you notes from grateful passers by.

Over the years, we’ve realized that people do crave a sense of community, but they don’t realize it. We’re socialized to be independent and self-sustaining and not needing anyone else. But this pandemic has really exposed that we really do need each other.”

Their garden is full of sunflowers (they have names) and they leave their extra plants in small pots for others to take.



From his interest in community Mr. Jung changed careers and went to Regent College the school of theology at University of British Columbia.  The YouTube video below sums up his gardening philosophy as it relates to his spiritual calling.

I have previously  written about Midori Oba and Peter Wohlwend who first started the Blooming Boulevard program which is now city policy in the City of Vancouver.

You can also take a look at the City’s current boulevard planting guidelines if you would like to plant your own front garden.




  1. My wife Ruth and I live at the corner of Cypress and 13 th. We have the standard boxwood and shrubs in plant beds. No veggies. But we do have flowers. Whenever we are out there, watering, weeding , pruning or planting we are engaged in conversation with passing pedestrians. Even cyclists stop occasionally but less so now that many have migrated to the easier gradients of the Greenway. So, it is not necessarily what you grow but what value you can add to the streetscape. Even in winter. One regular passing pedestrian spoke to me in January lamenting that the corner tree that I had always festooned with red and yellow lights during the Christmas period were missing on his daily walk. We were in the UK that year. Thinking about daily shopping routines I realize that my shopping location is usually determined by the desire to enjoy the most visually walking experience. So, I will walk to Granville passing the park on the way. I usually avoid Broadway because of traffic noise and mundane sidewalks with little green aesthetic. No real engagement with anyone in that kind of environment and the coffee shop community is very non inductive to community building- unless the count the on line virtual community. Hope we can rethink Broadway. The public space for the proposed hi rise at Birch doesn’t’ inspire. Looking to you Sandy for ongoing inspiration!

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