Over the next several weeks, in conjunction with the release of Young Agrarians’ Land Access Guide 2.0, we are highlighting individual leaders from BC’s sustainable food movement on our social media channels. The organizations they represent are just some of the groups working to enhance local, sustainable food systems.
"Sustainable food systems" is one of the Real Estate Foundation's grant program focus areas. We fund initiatives that contribute to innovative approaches in land use policy and planning, which support sustainable food systems and more resilient, healthy communities.
The wide range of organizations working in this area, in both urban and rural settings, comprises BC's local food movement.
Many are grassroots initiatives like Young Agrarians, a partnership with FarmFolk CityFolk. Young Agrarians works with young and new farmers, providing them with tools and support to overcome barriers to accessing land and resources for farming.
Community groups like Cowichan Green Community Society focus on improving food security by developing strong relationships with local food producers and working in creative ways to increase both urban and rural food production.
At the university level, centres like Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Institute for Sustainable Horticulture and the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm are engaged in research and development, applying and sharing their learning with the wider community.
Local governments also recognize the importance of locally focused food systems to sustainability. The City of Vancouver's food strategy, and the City of Campbell River and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's agricultural plans are three recent initiatives.
Enterprising non-profits (ENP) combine commercial farming with concrete social goals. Sole Food transforms vacant urban land into street farms that grow artisan quality fruits and vegetables while providing meaningful jobs for people with barriers to employment from Vancouver’s downtown eastside.
Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society is another Vancouver ENP that builds neighbourhood market gardens on underutilized school grounds. As well as providing fresh produce for sale via school cafeterias, harvest boxes and neighbourhood stands, the gardens serve as outdoor classrooms, and learning and gathering places for the surrounding community.
There are also examples of collaborations between groups. The Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CR-FAIR) is a coalition working to strengthen regional food security, farming viability and community involvement food and agriculture issues.
Last, but certainly not least, there are those whose main focus is to make a living off the land – the farmers themselves. The Land Access Guide includes several stories of young farmers – including that of Tristan Cavers of Golden Ears Farm. Tristan is a third generation farmer in the South Thompson valley who works and lives on his family’s land with other young farmers who manage the farm collaboratively. They regularly sell their food at the Kamloops Farmers' Market, where Tristan is involved with the board of directors. The farm also started a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box program in 2013 to get more fresh, organic food to the local community.
These organizations, and the many others like them, are helping to put British Columbia on the map when it comes to sustainable food systems. The Real Estate Foundation is proud to be a supporter of organizations that remove barriers and/or contribute to new approaches and practices in sustainable food systems in BC.