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Deconstructing Dinner

Kootenay Co-op Radio CJLY

Nelson, BC, Canada

 

July 10, 2008

 

Co-operatives: Alternatives to Industrial Food IV (Community Farms)

 

(Does not include Cross Canada Trike Tour transcript)

 

Producer/Host - Jon Steinman

Transcript - Juan Camilo Cortes Aguirre

 

And welcome to Deconstructing Dinner a syndicated weekly one hour radio program and Podcast produced at Kootenay Co-op Radio CJLY in Nelson, British Columbia. I'm Jon Steinman.

 

I did announce on our most recent broadcast as part of our new series entitled Livestock Lost , that today's episode would continue with coverage on the small-scale abattoir proposed in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. And because of some recent activity around the project that will be solidified shortly, we've instead been encouraged to postpone that episode so that we can be certain to fully capture the importance and underlying messages that this story will help bring to light. So again, do stay tuned for part II of the Livestock Lost series.

 

And you can also expect an upcoming part two of the Local Grain Revolution series we launched here on the program back in March of this year. A lot has transpired since then including our very broadcast having inspired an article in Canada's most read newspaper - The Globe and Mail. And that in and of itself is an interesting story to explore as well.

 

And so on today's broadcast we will instead take a look at a topic that we've covered here on the show before and it's one of a significant importance.

 

The first segment today will mark the fourth instalment of our series titled Co-operatives - Alternatives to Industrial Food.

 

Today's instalment will revisit with the topic of land co-operatives as a solution to many of the barriers facing local food production - one of which being the incredibly high cost of acquiring land for agricultural purposes. We'll listen to recordings from my visit to the March 2008 conference of the Certified Organic Associations of BC held in Saanich. It was there I recorded Ramona Scott of The Land Conservancy and Heather Pritchard of Farm Folk City Folk speaking in a workshop on their relatively new Community Farms Program. We'll also hear segments of an interview with Ramona Scott recorded by Kootenay Co-op Radio's John Alton.

 

Increase Music and Fade Out

 

It's been a topic of discussion throughout many broadcasts of Deconstructing Dinner that while there may very well be a widespread interest in supporting more localized food systems, the bigger picture of how such systems can be physically, economically and politically sustained is a far more complicated and serious matter.

 

So long as we as a society here in North America continue to place food and agriculture alongside the same market-based system of economics governing all other products, the preservation and access to farmland in close proximity to urban centres will only become increasingly harder to maintain. And that is exactly what's been happening in most parts of the country where agricultural land has become next to worthless in the face of a lowest price is the law global food system, and in turn, we see cities sprawling into the rural countryside because housing developments are far more valuable than food production.

 

Well of course such trends are a short term gain and a long term loss in light of the rapidly changing face of energy resources, environmental impacts of our consumer driven culture and population health being on a plummeting decline.

 

So what's the solution?

 

Well there are of course many, and one of them is a project currently being expanded on, by The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) and Vancouver-based Farm-Folk City Folk. The program is called The Community Farms Program and we first spoke of this back on April 19, 2007 when we met with the Horse Lake Community Farm Co-operative just outside the town of 100-Mile House BC.

 

Now while specific to BC, this is a model that could very well be applied anywhere in North America.

 

And so first, what is a community farm. Well most importantly, a community farm is a more holistic approach to food production than what we've seen happening in the past few decades in that such farms represent a multi-functional approach to agriculture that produce additional outputs to food and fibre, such as: ecological services, bioenergy, landscape preservation, employment, cultural heritage, food quality and safety, and animal welfare. It's a model that permits food to be incorporated into our lifestyles the way food has been for thousands of years and in most parts of the world still is.

 

A farm that becomes a part of the Community Farms Program is collectively owned in public trust and long-term leases are assigned for local food production, and farmers are also housed on the land. Agricultural activities are small-scale and intensive, and are carried out by a group of people working collaboratively or cooperatively.

 

Now the aim of the program, is to, first and foremost, expand local food production in BC by:

 

  1. helping new farmers access affordable land;

 

and

 

  1. researching best practices of existing collectively-owned farms; and creating a network of potential farmers, landowners, and community organizations.

 

Now there are already some farms in operation as part of the program with a number of others in the process of being brought into that program.

 

The ones in current operation are the Fraser Common Farm Co-op in Aldergrove, Glen Valley Organic Farm Co-op in Abbotsford, Haliburton Farm in Victoria, Horse Lake Community Farm Co-op outside of 100-Mile House, and Linnaea Farm on Cortes Island.

 

Working as part of the Land Conservancy on this project is Ramona Scott - the Manager of Agricultural Programs with TLC.

 

Ramona was interviewed by Kootenay Co-op Radio's John Alton on July 8 to learn more about the project and why a land conservation organization has become so involved in farming.

 

Ramona Scott (RS): Well actually the Land Conservancy has been working on agriculture through its whole history; this is our eleventh year in existence. We have always worked with agriculturalists, ranchers, primarily at the beginning because so many of the properties that have great ecological value are farmland or ranch land. In fact one of our first properties was Talking Mountain Ranch, which we purchased just on the west side of the Fraser River, north of Lilloet, so we have been dealing with ranchers and farmers and vintners and orchardists because of the ecological value of farms all along. Recently, it became clear as we started to study how conservation and agriculture work together, that natural biodiversity is there, but agriculture can work with conservation and create and support biodiversity by its own cropping methods and the sustainable practices that farmers do. We have formed the Conservation Partners Program which is an educational program about how conservation and agriculture work together and we give recognition to farmers and ranchers who do really good practices and protect habitat on their land and we created a Butterfly label called Conservation Partners Label.

 

In the last couple of years, people have learned about food security issues and the growing concern over loss of farmland and farmers. It became clear that we needed to look at land for biodiversity but also at land for protecting farmland because it is such a rare commodity in when compared to the entire BC area.

 

JS: Launching from TLC's work on agriculture, the community farms program was born as a partnership with Farm Folk City Folk - a Vancouver based not-for-profit that works with farm & city to cultivate a local, sustainable food system. Ramona Scott describes the partnership between TLC and Farm Folk City Folk's Heather Pritchard.

 

RS: What Heather and I have been doing as partners, is developing a program called Community Farmers for British Columbia.  It essentially is an alternative model for putting land into production and protecting land.  Heather has lots of experience on this as she has been living for over 30 years on a cooperative farm in the Fraser Valley. 

 

Her experience and the experience of Farm Folk City Folk (FFCF) lie in to dealing with all the complication and challenges of people living and working together cooperatively, forming coops and all the different policies that have to occur for the smooth running of a farm under those circumstances when there is more than one farm business operating and people are living and working together in a farm. That is her specialty and strength.

 

I contribute to the partnership by working out ways to secure the land; The Land Conservancy (TLC) could own the land, it does not have to be a land trust but we own the land or provide different research and expertise on ways to secure the land hold the covenant, provide information on how to form a land trust if an organization or a group of people wanted to form their own land trust or we help in any way we can to facilitate the actual procurement of the land. We have been doing research as well on the different types of farm access agreements when people work together in a farm such as a lease, a license, a memorandum of understanding or a rental agreement. We do research on these documents and create templates for them.

 

JS: And this is Deconstructing Dinner. Again, this is part four of our ongoing series on Co-operatives as alternatives to the industrial models of food production currently dominating our food supply. The series looks to examine the role in which the co-operative model can act as a viable alternative that allows for more community-based ownership in the businesses and services that we need and desire as part of our lives. Co-operatives are built on a number of core principles such as Voluntary & Open Membership, Democratic Member Control, Member Economic Participation, Autonomy and Independence, Education, Training and Information, Co-operation Among Co-operatives, and Concern For the Community. This very radio station where Deconstructing Dinner is produced is just one of many examples of how such models can indeed be successful.

 

Since this co-operatives series first began airing in March of 2007 we've met grocery store co-operatives, food distribution co-operatives, food-service co-operatives and land co-operatives.

 

The Community Farms Program featured on today's broadcast is promoting the co-operative model as a means to ensure farmland can be preserved in perpetuity and Ramona Scott describes how the model can fit within the program

 

RS: I think the coop model is a really good fit for this community farm program where there could be a land coop, which is when people get together to own or buy the land through shares, and then the farm businesses that exist on the farm, they can form a (different) coop as well. You can have a farmer coop, a housing coop as well and other kinds of coops. You can have different, multi-stakeholder shares with great flexibility in using this coop model.

 

JS: Those segments featuring The Land Conservancies Ramona Scott were recorded as part of an interview with Kootenay Co-op Radio's John Alton.

 

Now again, the Community Farms program remains in its infancy however Heather Pritchard and Ramona Scott are optimistic of the growth potential of the program. In March 2008 Heather and Ramona hosted a workshop at the 2008 conference of the Certified Organic Associations of BC held in Saanich on Vancouver Island. The workshop was attended by current and future farmers looking for alternatives to the prohibitive and difficult models of land ownership currently dominating our modern-day food system.

 

As part of the many recordings compiled at the conference, Deconstructing Dinner sat in on the workshop and prepared a number of segments to share with you on today's broadcast to help better introduce communities around the world to this innovative model of securing access to local food production in an ever increasingly difficult time. For listeners not from British Columbia, you will hear reference to the ALR in the next clip and the ALR is in reference to the province's Agricultural Land Reserve. And here's Farm Folk City Folk's Heather Pritchard.

 

Heather Pritchard (HP) This session is about how we can secure farmland for local production. We have a workshop presentation to show you, lots of time for you to be able to give us questions and feedback. What we know from making these presentations is that there are 3 (three) areas that are critical to us.

 

One is the actual model of how we secure farmland, the other is how do we find farmers and how do we train, mentor and prepare them, what are the economics around doing that. Most importantly, is how do we build community around this, because this is all about community farming. As we go through the presentation, we will illustrate to you what we mean about the kinds of communities we are talking about.

 

I would like to know something about who is here. How many of you are in situations where you have farmland and you are looking for ways to shift this land to the next generation of farmers?

 

How many of you are new farmers looking for land and wanting to farm on that?

 

We have more new farmers than we probably have land owners. Before we go on to Ramona who will start the program, we work as a team, we want to say that it is very exciting to be here at Certified Organic Association of BC (COABC). It was 2 (two) years ago at the COABC conference and AGM that Ramona and I started to talk about how we might support each other with our respective programs and organizations. We have not stopped since then and there has been much dialogue and feedback from people who have helped to develop the program. We have gone for some funding which we have now; we are working with some farmers and some land so even at this research and development stage we are actually implementing some of this. …On to Ramona...

 

RS: The program is a facilitator and enabler; we do not hold the land or own the land. The program works directly with the farmers; FFCF provides farmer expertise and TLC the land expertise. Both of us have our own programs and individual organizations- the Community Farms Program is a bridge, enabler, facilitator, etc. Out of all this, the goal is to have a whole network of community farms.

 

What do we mean by a community farm? We call it a multifunctional farm where the land is protected for ever for sustainable local food production and there are long term leases assigned for organic agriculture enterprises and farmers are housed on the land.  We look at type of production; it is for local food production based on agroecological principles with multiple farmers living on the land. We believe community farms are a very stable viable model for small scale sustainable agriculture in British Columbia.

 

When we talk about community in community farms, we are talking about two different communities.  One is the community of farmers on the land working together cooperatively and then the larger community that supports the farmers. This way, farmers can concentrate on farming and the larger community can provide support work like education, public access, events, festivals and volunteer labour. If it is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), people are very involved on this as well. We look at these two community types.

 

HP: If the community is invested in the source of their food or their food shed, what would that look like? The world is changing and people are more interested in supporting local agriculture. What we really need, is for this farmland not to be in speculation even if it is held in the ALR. We support the idea of leaving the land under ALR zoning. But now, it has become extremely expensive to buy agricultural land due to speculation so it is not affordable for most farmers. We need that land to be taken out of speculation; it does not have to be TLC land, it could be cooperative land, it could be land owned by a society, we have got many examples of that in BC with people who have been farming where the land is not going to be sold. 

 

We obviously need new farmers, and they don't have to be 20 years of age.  I started farming when I was 40 and I have had 25 good years and I am still going. We say new farmers rather than young. We are not setting training programs because we know there are lots of you who are already doing that.  The idea is to support the programs already happening and create new ones if we need to.

 

JS: And this is Deconstructing Dinner where we're listening to clips from a workshop hosted in March 2008 by Heather Pritchard of Farm Folk City Folk and Ramona Scott of The land Conservancy of BC. Both are now involved in the Community Farms Program of BC - a project working on facilitating the creation of community farms throughout the province.

 

In getting into more details as to how such community farms would operate and be managed, Ramona spoke on the role of the Community Farms network and the role the program to facilitate the ownership of land. Ramona is followed by Heather Pritchard speaking on how labour fits into the picture - yet another difficulty many farmers in Canada currently face when trying to operate a successful and responsible farm.

 

RS: The program is facilitating Philanthropy and member share structures. TLC maybe one of the organizations that holds the land but there could be other models. The purpose is to procure and promote farmland forever in public trust so that it is no longer on the market to be sold or speculated upon and it would be affordable; to attract new farmers, making sure there is a link between farmers and farmland. We are starting databases both for farmers and farmland; making available, education and providing resources on all the training programs out there; where can farmers be apprentices, where can they be mentored, get formal training.

 

Farmers would have long term leases for food production. The community farm program is about securing farmland for local food production. We are researching leases and we are looking at having templates for these documents. We hope to have templates on a Web Site, as part of the network which everyone will have access to.

 

Regarding housing... We don't say that we look for housing for farmers. We propose that housing is necessary for farms to be economically viable for farmers to be able to live their life on the farm. We are researching how to set up housing, in a cluster, with a small footprint, looking at zoning and other issues. We are doing a feasibility study that the Real Estate Foundation has financed; Ms. Wanda Gorset is the contractor in charge of that project. She is looking at the legal landscape that we are facing, what are the barriers and opportunities for all of these issues so there is a basis, a foundation for this information to make it available to people.

 

The next slides that we have deal with the main aspects of community farms:

 

Land stewardship is extremely important because how the farming is done, the methods and standards are very important. We are not taking about great care and multiple use of the farm. Community farms have a really great benefit within them in that there will be more people, skills and diversity to manage the crops and maintain the soil and the healthy ecosystems in the land. The vision is a multiple use farm done in a sustainable way.

 

HP: The next issue is labour. And one of the ways that I like to describe this is that we are not actually talking about farm labour as much as we are talking about farmers. So one of the ways that community farms actually supports diversity of labour is by having more than one person living on the farm and some people can be at the farm and perhaps work part time. I know in our farm the is all kinds of diversity in terms of how many people work fulltime, seasonally, part time or even people from the extended community helping with the extra labour needed for harvesting apples or picking beans, etc. I know that most of us who are farming also need to employ labour off the farm, but what we are trying to do is to provide a stable labour base as year round as we possibly can which would extend into the seasons, the beginning and the end and perhaps on production and other activities that happen on the farm.

 

When you have a community of people on the farm, you have a way of getting a break, a way of getting away. When you are sick you have support. When it came to this slide, the young woman who lives on our farm Donna, asked us to tell the story of her, her husband David and her two kids when they went to Ontario when David's father was dying and they needed to go in the middle of the summer. We were able to rearrange the work duties, bring more people on, add to our own work, let the chickens out in the morning and all those other duties and that is the kind of thing you can do when you have more than one farming enterprise on the farm and you are working and sharing and supporting each other.

 

JS: Heather Pritchard of Farm Folk City Folk

 

With the cost of farmland close to urban centres having skyrocketed since food became so undervalued as part of our culture, many farmers and especially new farmers have resorted to having to lease land in order to be able to farm. This does not of course provide much security to the farmer nor to the long-term sustainability of that farmer's presence in the community. And when ecological farming practices requires years if not decades of living and working a piece of land in a specific location and climate, finding a way around the risks of leasing is too an important component of the Community Farms Program. And here again is The Land Conservancy's Ramona Scott.

 

RS: On the farm there exists the idea of equity and building equity. A lot of people wonder what happens when you lease land because you do not own it. What inspires you to stay there and put your heart and soul on it? We are working with the idea that farmers are building their equity on the farm and will be able to pass on their business to the next farmer; they will be able to sell it to somebody else. The land is always going to be there, it is not being sold, you are not leasing from a private land owner, you are leasing it from a model or trust that is in perpetuity. You can be building your equity, you can have a 10, 30 or 40 year lease, for example, and pass it on or you can sell it and even get back what has been invested as infrastructure. Maybe even their houses but we are not sure yet how that might work.


One of the things we have touched on is succession. We are loosing many farmers to retirement and I don't know where the new ones are coming from. There has to be a model for people to be attracted to farming, it has to be viable and a rewarding career.  We think that community farms are attracting young or new people committed to a sustainable lifestyle and living together. One of the hardest things and many questions that we get are: How do people actually live together? And what does that actually mean? It is surprising how the younger generations are starting to understand the importance of living in community.

 

Community farms are opportunities where farmers that are already there can pass on their knowledge and their skills to the next generation and they can still live on the farm and we hope to be looking at retirement packages and health benefit packages for community farm members. Who knows where the program could go yet but it would really support the idea of succession which is a big issue right now.

 

The program itself- this is a summary now- is based on securing land, getting new farmers and training them and finding financing to support the community farms program. The first item is land, which is the one TLC and I in my capacity of joint ventures researcher, focus on. By being partners with FFCF, literally the Community Farms Program allows me to create a structure that finds ways to secure land and answers questions like why people could donate land, or why and how people could purchase land and what other alternative forms of ownership can exist such as a lease, a long term lease. Through the program, we are able to facilitate the removal of land from speculation in the real estate market and put it in a position not to be sold again. The program is developing the model, structure and information that will support doing this so that more people are attracted to this program.

 

TLC, as a land trust, secures land through bequests, donations, endowments or covenants and of course starting coops. We are also doing the research to develop templates and legal information as that is our area of specialization.

 

JS: And this is Deconstructing Dinner a syndicated weekly one-hour radio show and Podcast produced at Kootenay Co-op Radio CJLY in Nelson, BC. I'm Jon Steinman and you're tuned in to part four of our series titled Co-operatives: Alternatives to Industrial Food. If you miss any of today's show it will be archived under the July 10, 2008 broadcast. This episode features The Community Farms Program currently being expanded as a partnership between The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) and FarmFolk/CityFolk - a Vancouver based not-for-profit organization. The program has begun addressing one of the major barriers to ensuring viable long-term access to local food - and that barrier is the cost of land. The alternative being proposed by the program are community farms which are a multi-functional approach to agriculture that produce additional outputs to food and fibre, such as: ecological services, bioenergy, landscape preservation, employment, cultural heritage, food quality and safety, and animal welfare.

 

It's a model that permits food to be incorporated into our lifestyles the way food has been for thousands of years and in most parts of the world still is.

 

Deconstructing Dinner recorded TLC's Ramona Scott and FarmFolk/CityFolk's Heather Pritchard presenting a workshop at a 2008 conference held in Saanich on Vancouver Island.

 

Heather Pritchard has extensive experience working and living on and with co-operative and community-based farms and as part of the workshop we're currently listening to segments of, Heather provided some examples of community farms currently in operation and she introduced slides from two farms operating in the Fraser Valley of the province.

 

HP: Those of you who know me know that I live on Fraser Common Farm Cooperative- that is the community of people who own the land and who actually support the farmers and the farming on the land. Community Alternatives Cooperative is the land coop and the farming coop that works on Community Alternatives alternative is called Glorious Organics Cooperative. It used to be Gloria's Garnish and Seasonal Salad Company when Herb (Barbolet) and I started it 24 seasons ago now. We moved from being a business towards being a coop about 3 years ago. We did that because all of us were aging and we wanted to open it up to a new generation of farmers and we felt that becoming a farming coop was the most congruent way to fit our values in this process. It also allowed new people to come in with very little capital and to be able to take ownership of the business on the farm.

 

This [referring to a picture on a slide] is Glen Valley Oat Cooperative and of course, John- the farmer in this land, like most of us is aging and decided to retire a couple of years ago. Glen Valley put out a call for proposals and they had a proposal from a couple of young farmers and they hired those farmers on. They have just gone through their first season and they have been financially very successful. One of the things Glen Valley established as required criteria for new farmers was their ability to communicate clearly, well and honestly and make it as important as having lots of experience farming.  Because when we are looking at community farms, the quality of wanting to be in community with other people was critical. They selected a young farmer, Chris Bodner, who actually had his PhD in Communication and he had decided at some point that he wanted to farm. He came from a farming background and he is making that choice to do that. It is amazing that there are actually many young people who are making this choice; they are saying, the most important thing I could do with my life is to grow food.

 

The thing about Glen Valley, and many other cooperative farms, is that they are very diverse. They are not monocrops. They have got animals, field crops, often salad greens which is a good cash crop to have, they are stretching the boundaries from the beginning of the season to the end and have lots of polyhuts and things of that nature, like so many other farmers have as well.

 

JS: There are a number of other examples of farms operating in the province as part of the Community Farms Program. As mentioned earlier part II of this Co-operatives series here on Deconstructing Dinner featured the early stages in the creation of one of these farms - Horse Lake Community Farm just outside of the town of 100-Mile House. In this next segment Ramona Scott gives an update on the Horse Lake farm along with some background on one of the new farms coming on board - Lohbrunner farm just outside Victoria in the community of Langford.

 

RS: Horse Lake Community Farm Coop is a property near 100 mile house. It is 130 acres near Horse Lake. The property was for sale but it had been leased for about 18 years by CEEDS. Some of you may know CEEDS, they are a well known group of farmers in BC, in the Chilkotin. So Betty Johnson, wanted to sell the property because she was getting older and needed to get the cash out of the land. She could have sold it, and in fact she did have it advertised for a while as a recreational property which would have given her about 50 to 70% more for her property. Once TLC began to negotiate a price with her she did agree to sell it at a price that was reasonably affordable and the coop was formed. It is through member shares that this property is being purchased and they have made their first two mortgage payments. This December will be their last mortgage payment and the coop will have secured the land. The title will be transferred to TLC and the farmers will have a 99 year lease on the property. CEEDS is the primary farming community right now. They have been farming for many years and they are also aging so they have started to think, well, what is your succession plan.  

 

Housing is an interesting topic on this farm; they are building a log house from some of the pine beetle trees on the property and bringing a mobile home as well. Eventually they will build another house so the question of who owns houses and not the land is an interesting situation. We think that it is possible to own a house and not the land, just like you can own infrastructure and build equity. This is a working model that is giving us lots of practice on how to solve certain issues. 

 

This young fellow, Rob and Lorraine's son [referring to a slide], will probably be part of the succession plan. Horse Lake has been very active in bringing on young people. Their members have a campsite, a tipi, they have events, and they might even have a music festival this summer there. They are very active in the community; they have started the farmer's market in 100 mile house. There is a big opportunity for this community farm to have a high profile as there are lots of recreational property owners in that area.

 

The other property was donated to TLC recently, in Langford outside the capital regional district. In this case, Norma Lohbrunner [referring to someone on a slide], who is on the right hand picture, is in her late 70s now. She donated this property and will be living in the property for the rest of her life or as long as she wants too. In the meantime, she gets to look at her window and watch some young people put this land back into production.  We got Nicole [on the slide], who did farm casually last summer but what now what we have is the beginning of a group forming. A group of farmers are forming a partnership and start farming there. We are just beginning the process of identifying issues and the policies that we need to deal with these problems. We are in a good position with this one because we are starting from scratch and we can address every problem right from the beginning and it is also good practice. It is also very near an urban center, it is easy to market, it is very close to Luxon farmer's market and there is also a community starting to build around it.

 

JS: Ramona Scott of The Land Conservancy of BC. While Lohbrunner farm is one of a number of farms currently being brought into the network of Communty Farms throughout British Columbia, there is yet another in the Victoria area where community-based efforts are underway to bring it into the program and that is Madrona Farm. Kootenay Co-op Radio's John Alton spoke to Ramona about this example and here's a segment from that interview.

 

RS: We are currently working with a farm near Victoria, Madrona Farm. It has gone through three generations of farmers now and the brothers who own it right now are at a point where they are doing some estate planning. They have 9 children among them and they wanted to sell the property to divide the value. But the son has been farming there for the last 7 or 8 years and has been leasing it from these three brothers, his two uncles and his father. We are in the process of supporting the Friends of Madrona Farm to buy the farm from the brothers and leasing it for 30 years to the current farmer. They are in their late 20s and they are going to be able to have a 30 year lease at least. They do a look of great food production, 10 acres in complete production with high biodiversity. We are keen on this one, because they are a demonstration of the way that conservation and agriculture work together.

 

JS: As mentioned a number of times throughout the broadcast, the co-operative model of agricultural ownership and management is an alternative to how expensive farmland has become. In the case of Madrona Farm, it is those who have been fed by the farm who are coming together to take ownership of it.

 

RS: It is very expensive and it is quite a challenge in this case. This is actually the first time we have been part of a campaign to buy a farm. The real estate prices for farmland today are amazing. We are waiting to see how successful this will be and we have seen a lot of attention and support. I think people are starting to realize that the only way to have and protect a farm like this in production for ever is to buy it. By buying it they have to pay the real estate price for it- the actual highest investment. Thousands of people buy food from this farm right at the farm gate. The price is really high, over 2million dollars.

 

JS: And that was Ramona Scott of The Land Conservancy of BC. And in this last segment recorded in March 2008 - here again is Heather Pritchard sharing the ambitious goal of bringing on 50 new farms in the next few years at which point both Heather and Ramona hope to retire.

 

HP: What we are doing is facilitating what is already out there. A lot of different community farms who do not know each other, some do and some don't. Part of this program is to bring everybody together to get a reference group of key people who are interested in supporting, forming and directing us which would be the first step. The second step would occur next November, by bringing representatives of all of these various community farms that have been practising for probably 20 to 30 years to see how they do it, what is their best practices, how do they create community, how do they set boundaries, how do they have agreements with each other or do they, what is the culture that makes their community farm work. 

 

There are in BC now, over 20 farms in BC now, that in some way are supported by a larger community and that have more than one farming operation on the farm. Ramona and I are ambitious. We are going to do this for five years and then we retire. In 5 years we want to see that we have 50 such community farms in BC. We believe that is a good target and that we can do that.

 

JS: And that was Heather Pritchard of FarmFolk CityFolk based in Vancouver, British Columbia. You can expect a revisiting of this program on a future broadcast and more information on the Community Farms Program partnership between her organization and The Land Conservancy will be made available on the Deconstructing Dinner web site at deconstructingdinner.ca


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