URBAN GARDENER: Visionary urban farmers leading a movement

Three small commercial farms now growing produce within our municipal boundaries are the forerunners of a sustainable food movement

By Morgan Ostler’

“Growing A Food Movement” in Campbell River has begun.

The three small commercial farms now growing produce within our municipal boundaries are the forerunners of a local sustainable food movement. They are the first players in a visionary plan laid out by the Agriculture Advisory Steering Committee. The team’s submission  was approved by council in 2012 and has since been included in the Sustainable Official Community Plan.

As a community we have a long way to go before achieving the plan’s first level goal. Success would mean ten percent of what we consume would be grown locally. There is much work to be done   but what is important is that these three farm families are changing the mind-set of many residents who are accustomed  to think of Campbell River as a singular resource based community.

The astounding fact is that we have more than 12,000 acres of Agricultural Reserve Land within city borders. The land is generally owned by timber companies but the city and private land owners also  have large holdings. Most of it is covered in forest, but remember that the Comox  and Cowichan Valleys were both heavily forested 100 years ago.

Two years ago an agrologist, who was retained by the Agriculture Advisory  group, examined soils  throughout the area and particularly in the south end of the municipality. He stated that the core samples  obtained showed very high nutrient levels and were comparable to the mainland’s delta. This was the amazing result of his research.

For local potential farmers who wish to look more deeply into farming opportunities I would suggest the website, Linking Land And Farmers, (LLAF). It offers resources to both landowners and land seekers.

The organization has operated on Vancouver Island for15 years. In the past LLAF supported land matches.

As more food security groups are working towards this goal LLAF has shifted focus and is now partnered with FarmLink in order to encourage matches through the  Match Maker tool.

This site brings together new farmers who are looking for land or mentorship with farm owners who have land available or expertise to share.

 

Did You Know…we have a new “young farmer” on Quadra Island, Etienne Cote. He is typical of  the growth of a new generation of farmers whose plan is predicated on the strong market for ethically grown food. Etienne now operates as “Hillcrest Farms” and is raising Red Angus cross steers along with turkeys, pigs and lambs. For more information and to place orders call 250-202-3365