By Katya Slepian, Contributing Writer


Longtime Vancouver residents – or perhaps especially newcomers – know all about ridiculously expensive rent. According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is $1,261, and that number continues to rise every year. The CMHC report does not disclose the square footage of the average apartment; however, a quick perusal of Craigslist’s housing section is enough to show that unless a first-floor apartment with large glass doors that open up into a back alley is your dream home, you’ll be lucky to have enough space to turn around.


Necessity, it’s said, is the mother of invention, and so a team of entrepreneurial UBC students are here to help. Greenhouse (GH) Fence, the brainchild of Maria Grountseva and her talented team, seeks to help Vancouver live up to its reputation for being one of the healthiest cities in the country. Their idea involves taking any fence on your property – whether on a balcony or on the ground – and transforming it into a “completely self-sustaining vertical greenhouse” capable of growing just about anything you would need to make your diet a bit greener.


Fresh fruits and vegetables are key components of healthy eating, helping to prevent cancer and giving you more energy to tackle that daily to-do list. But despite their many benefits, their high cost may prove prohibitive. This is where the team behind GH Fence comes in. Rather than having to make time-consuming shopping trips to replenish your supply of quickly spoiling fruits and veggies, you’ll have your very own produce stand just outside your window. You could pick up fresh greens right along with your mail.


The greenhouse fence is completely automated apart from initial installation and biannual maintenance. It will do everything from fertilizing the soil to watering the plants, finally making good use of Vancouver’s signature climate. All that’s left to do is reach inside and pluck that perfectly ripe tomato.


While the project is currently in the early stages of development, the team is looking to have a finished product by late 2013. You can learn more about GH Fence, how to get involved, and the people behind it at