Update: Here’s a brochure that will help you craft your letters of support for the UBC farm. Another way to help the farm: come volunteer on a project or for the farmer’s market. I promise you’ll leave with a foolish grin on your face. It really is a joyful place to be even with the current pressures. And note Andrew’s comments below about the meeting next week: Show up anyway!
The UBC farm is threatened by development pressures. In the current plan the 24 hectare farm- the last in Vancouver- is designated as “future housing reserve.” It’s not that they want to eliminate it, just shrink it and possibly move it and chop down the forest around it for condos.
I don’t think you have to be an academic agriculturist to get why this might be problematic for the farm. This is soil that has been growing and nurtured for 40 years in the context of a rich and diverse habitat. You can’t just cut the landbase on a farm and destroy the surrounding habitat and expect the farm to thrive.
Besides it’s on this particular land that faculty, students and the community have invested their intellectual, spiritual and physical energies into projects that promise to all keep us eating for the tough times to come. This isn’t a “nice to have” community resource, it’s bloody critical to our survival- that is, if us city folk would like to continue to eat while living in the promised land.
Why at a time when the whole world is in the grip of a global food crisis, when eating local has caught the imagination of people on the street, when even a total duffer like me can get my picture in the paper for growing vegetables in the front lawn, would we even be having this conversation? Real estate baby! That’s what keeps this city hopping.
It’s enough to make you pull your hair out in frustration. But I was recently associated with a David and Goliath battle- when the Vancouver School Board threatened to close our local school, Garibaldi. A diverse community team came together, buoyed by the constant and unflagging spirt and efforts of the Garibaldi’s Parent Advisory Committee and Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, and campaigned with joy and creativity. They wrote letters (me too!), delivered flyers (I did 1 round), posted signs on the lawn (just took it down!), went to meetings (4 for me) and through all of this collective effort, an act of public imagination triumphed. A truly innovative proposal went forth to the VSB and guess what: we, the community won!
So I’m starting to ponder what wee drops in the Save the Farm bucket I might contribute. This is what I’ve found out the Save the Farm crew needs right now:
1. They need folks to come out to a campus planning meeting: Food Security and the Vancouver Campus Plan
DATE: June 25, 2008
TIME: 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (Light snacks available) LOCATION: GSS Ballroom, 6371 Crescent Road, UBC
How to register: Contact Stefani Lu, UBC Campus and Community Planning Telephone 604-827-3465 or email email@example.com
2. They need letters written: (you know the drill: the kind with a stamp seems to make more of an impact but filling the appropriate people’s inboxes is good too.)
3. They need you to sign a petition.
4. It’s not always easy to get the connection between the research that happens behind the walls of our public universities and our lives. But the research and the projects that happen on the farm are accessible in so many ways. Come to the farmers’ markets, take a tour, learn about projects like the Inter-generational Landed Learning or the Urban Aboriginal Kitchen Garden project or the myriad of UBC courses that take place on the farm.