Who could fault “Titanic” director, James Cameron for his recent purchase of the award winning Beaufort Vineyard & Winery.
It took several visits to the Island as well as other B.C. agricultural areas before Cameron made the final decision to choose this 84-acre spread of fertile farmland in Merville.
Cameron was born in Chippewa, Ontario and his boyhood in the country had developed a deep commitment to organic and sustainable farm practices. This drive to protect arable land has led him to travel great distances in search of agri-business opportunities.
According to sources, he has now acquired thousands of acres in New Zealand as well as a cattle ranch. His public proclamation to become a vegan made headlines some ago years ago and since then many public figures have joined the ranks of those who have chosen a meat-free lifestyle.
What really twigged my interest is the news that Cameron has retained a Comox Valley farmer to cultivate approximately 76 acres of the Beaufort land for vegetable production.
I understand the plan is to sell fresh produce into the California market. How wonderfully ironic that we Islanders who rely heavily on California farmers to supply almost 90 per cent of our off-season fresh food needs will now witness fresh produce being shipped in the opposite direction.
With one-third of that areas’ farmland now abandoned due to years of drought and dried up aquifers, it makes perfect sense for the visionary Cameron to foresee future opportunities and to be in a fortunate position to take action.
Of Campbell River’s 12,000 acres of Agricultural Reserve Land (ARL) 1,000 acres has been identified as having great potential for food production.
The development of these lands may fulfill the hope of the economic development office that the city will support ways to diversify the local economy.
Readers who may have an interest in an opportunity to farm should check out our amazing on line Food Map. Just go to www.foodmap.campbellriver.ca where you will find an extraordinary amount of information.
The map hosts an inventory of potential land for urban food growing initiatives. It provides a starting point for groups and associations who are interested in establishing new community gardens, urban orchards, food forests and other urban projects.
As city sustainability manager Amber Zirnhelt explains, “Private land owners can also register their land on the Food Map if they are interested in connecting with an individual or group who is interested in food growing opportunities.”
She adds that since there is no size limitation, land owners can post entire lots on the Food Map, or just portions of land such as backyards or raised garden beds.
The city has created a guide book for people interested in using the Food Map to access land. The document contains tips and resources for private land owners who are interested in listing their own land on the database.
This data can be found on the city website under the Food and Agriculture section of Green City. Don’t underestimate the possibility that there may be another James Cameron lurking about reviewing availability of undeveloped land and envisioning a bright and diversified future for farming in Campbell River.