Life

The Co-op Alternative

Podcast: 'Deconstructing Dinner' looks at community farming in BC.

By Jon Steinman 14 Jul 2008 | TheTyee.ca

Jon Steinman is producer and host of Kootenay Co-op Radio's program Deconstructing Dinner. A new podcast with notes is posted here every Friday afternoon. All Deconstructing Dinner podcasts can be found here.

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It's been a topic of discussion throughtout many broadcasts of Deconstructing Dinner: while there is clearly 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.

As long as our food and farming continues to be built upon the same market-based systems of economics that govern all else, the preservation of and access to farmland in close proximity to urban centres will only become increasingly harder to maintain. In most parts of the country, agricultural land has become next to worthless for the production of food, and we now watch cities sprawl into the fertile soil.

So what's the solution?

One solution is a project currently being expanded upon by The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) and Vancouver-based FarmFolk/CityFolk. The program is called the Community Farms Program, first mentioned on Deconstructing Dinner on April 19, 2007.

While specific to British Columbia, ths is a model that could be applied anywhere in North America.

"Community farms" represent a more holistic model of food production than the more conventional approaches. They produce additional outputs to food and fibre, such as ecological services, bioenergy, landscape preservation, employment, cultural heritage, food quality and safety, and animal welfare.

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

This segment uses recordings compiled by Deconstructing Dinner at the 2008 conference of the Certified Organic Associations of B.C. (COABC), held in Saanich.

Cross-Canada Trike Tour

On May 7, 2008, Darrick Hahn and Sinisa Grgic departed Victoria from the zero-mile mark of the Trans-Canada Highway and embarked on a cross-Canada journey to raise awareness of Deconstructing Dinner. The pair are travelling by recumbent tricycles (or trikes).

This third installment of the Cross-Canada Trike tour begins at the Manitoba border and takes us through their time in Ontario.

Guests/voices

Ramona Scott, manager, Agricultural Programs, The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) (Victoria, B.C.) -- In 2006, Ramona established two farm co-ops. The land was purchased and co-operatively managed by their respective communities. These operations are the first of their kind in Canada, and provide models for future projects.

Heather Pritchard, executive director, FarmFolk/CityFolk (Vancouver, B.C.) -- Heather has over 40 years' experience assisting non-profits, co-operatives and small businesses with financial planning, organizational development and personnel management. She is a member of Glorious Organics Co-operative, a certified organic farm-business operating from Fraser Common Farm Co-operative in the Fraser Valley.

Darrick Hahn and Sinisa Grgic, cross-Canada cyclists, Deconstructing Dinner Cross-Canada Trike Tour (Monkton, Ont./London, Ont.) -- Cyclists Sinisa Grgic and Darrick Hahn are old high-school friends based in Southwestern Ontario, and are the proprietors of Fresh Entertainment. Darrick grew up on a farm in Monkton, Ontario and Sinisa, who is originally from Croatia, moved to Canada 17 years ago.

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