Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


City Farmer History

A summer youth employment program grant, "City Farmer - Home Food Production" helped us get our work done in 1980. Shirley Buswell, Joseph Martin, Paul Kinsella took part.

"We hope to inspire the urban person (consumer) to produce some of his or her food at home. The project participants will help to produce our community newsletter, City Farmer, which reports on local, small-scale food production issues and the urban environment. They will produce an educational course (with audio-visual materials) on urban food production and will present it to community groups and school audiences. Employees will act as consultants on matters of home food production."

Shirley Buswell, one of the new employees, brought excellent writing skills to City Farmer.

UBC Thesis Gets Top Writing Award

From UBC Reports March 17, 1982

Shirley Buswell, who is working on her second masters degree from UBC, recently won the $1,000 national Epstein Award for her novel Garden of Exiles.

The prize, which is sponsored by University College of Toronto, is awarded biennially for the best unpublished manuscript entered by a student enrolled at a Canadian university. Garden of Exiles was chosen from among 77 manuscripts from 14 universities.

Ms. Buswell graduated last November with a MFA degree in creative writing, and is now enrolled in the masters program in adult education. She plans to teach writing after she completes her studies in adult education.

Garden of Exiles was written as her MFA thesis. It is set in the highlands of Kenya, and explores one woman's experience in the changing social climate of Africa. The idea for the story came while Ms. Buswell was living in Kenya for three years in the late 1960s.

"Many of the white people in the community where I lived left Africa at this time, and those who remained experienced the feeling of not belonging anymore. The main character in my novel, Diana, is caught up in this situation."

The novel centres on the emotional struggle Diana faces when she is pressured to leave Kenya, where she was born and raised. Since she has always lived in Africa, Diana feels she belongs in the country, but her British background alienates her from her home as Africa becomes increasingly less 'European'. She is forced to confront her feelings when a school teacher visiting the Kenya highlands asks her to leave her home and move to Canada with him.

Ms. Buswell, who is originally from New Zealand, lived in England and Africa before coming to Canada. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Lethbridge, and has been involved in various drama groups and schools in Canada.

Between academic sessions at UBC, Ms. Buswell works as a journalist for City Farmer, a magazine devoted to backyard gardeners in Vancouver.

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Revised Saturday, June 5, 1999

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture