Develop a city-supported urban farming program
Community gardens and farmers markets are on the rise in Vancouver, but there remains a need for more productive farms (market gardens) to produce significant amounts of local food.
There are more and more people interested in getting into farming as a livelihood, but barriers such as high land values and low profit margins in traditional farming make entry difficult.
The City could develop a municipally-supported urban farming program where city-owned land would be affodably leased to prospective farmers for a season to gain experience, earn an income, and produce food for local residents. This could be coupled with a mentorship program with experienced producers, and educational programs at the highschool and/or post-secondary level.
If we want to get serious about local food, we need to get serious about growing a new generation of farmers. We all benefit!
City has supported SOLE food project (in the DTES) and is investigating other urban farming opportunities as part of the draft Greenest City Action Plan.
What a great idea and I'd jump at the opportunity to participate, learn and do more
NOTE: Big Dave's idea "Allow vacant city owned land to be used for commercial food production" has been merged into this one.
"In some cities like Baltimore, the City Council has allowed vacant land in the heart of the city to be used for commercial food production, giving local food outlets "super local" fruits and vegetables. Using low-cost, passive greenhouses it would be possible to do two or three plantings per year, thereby greatly boosting local food availability. It would be even better if the City mandated or at least encouraged private landholders to make their vacant city land available for food production as well."
NOTE: Paul Kilpatrick's idea "Create a network of city farmers" has been merged with this one.
Rather than just wasting land growing grass, property owners can provide land to have city farmers come and create, maintain and harvest food gardens on their property in exchange for a percentage of food grown. That way home owners don’t have to do the farming themselves if they don’t want to, but they can provide land to feed themselves and their neighbours and provide work for city farmers.
More property would be available if they rent the land. Starting price is $1 per square yard/metre. This would ensure that the city farmer is professional serious farmer and not a fly by night operator who will drain all the nutrients from the soil
Also City farmers should be bonded. You can not have a bunch of people posing as city farmers casing out homes to rob.
Local Food Working Group commented
@ PK ~ A couple of interesting initiatives come to mind. First, a few years ago City Farmer created a "Backyard Sharing Project" that allowed people who had land the were interested in gardening link up with people who wanted to do the gardening work. Expanding this could help to put more of the unused city back yards into a food growing cycle.
Second, is the use of combined backyards for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives. There's a number of these going on in Vancouver - City Farm Boy is one, but I know of a few taking place in Kits. Urban farmers have approached houses to use their lawn space for food growing. Depending on the arrangement, property owners then get a food box or other incentive out of the program.
Kristi Tatebe commented
@LFWG - yes, SOLE food is a great initiative and prime example of how this kind of system could work.
Also, check out Baltimore's progress in a range of local urban agriculture initiatives:
Local Food Working Group commented
@ Kristi Tatebe
Good news on this front: we've started to make some investments in this area, including the SOLE food project at Hastings and Hawks (funded, in part, through one of our Greenest City Grants).
Kira Gerwing commented
The number of green jobs that could be created through expanding the urban agriculture network in Vancouver is high, especially when considering related jobs in value-added food production, distribution, and waste management.
alicia chaa commented
check out this link
its a very interesting solution that dosent require more land
being used for agriculture and is a truely local solution.
This is a very creative idea that seems like it would build a strong foundation for the future of local food in Vancouver.