Throughout the Capital Region, people and organizations are taking a new interest in food security. Backyard gardens, edible landscapes, land use policies, food purchasing collectives, and food waste composting are just a few of the topics and issues that come to mind when we talk about food security.
The CRD and local municipalities are involved in a number of regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives to promote local food and are looking for new ways to enhance food production and distribution in order to create jobs, reduce GHG emissions, and build community resiliency.
What's Driving Food Security Planning?
Under the existing Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), food policy focuses on securing agricultural land for economic security and environmental protection. Protecting land for agricultural uses is identified as a significant goal, with a specific objective of increasing economic activity through high-value and specialized agriculture.
In 2011, the CRD introduced Food Security as a topic for the new Regional Sustainability Strategy (RSS). When completed in 2013, the RSS will provide overarching framework and policy document that will serve as a platform for action between 2013 and 2038.
There are many reasons to act on food security initiatives, not the least of which include:
Food security issues are directly linked to regional land use, economic development strategies, smart growth, resource use, waste generation and climate change. There are a number of creative solutions to help improve food security such as:
Today, food related programs and initiatives are run by a host of organizations, businesses and individuals. Many undertake creative and effective work on food access, urban agriculture and economic development. From food processors to local restaurants to grass-roots based initiatives, you can check out the Resources page to learn more about what is happing in the community.
Productive agricultural land in the region has been reduced substantially over the past three decades, resulting in nearly 1,500 hectares removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) between 1974 and 2009.
In 2005, there were 735 farms reporting farm-related income in the CRD (excluding the Gulf Islands). In total, they produced $49 million in farm receipts, up from $46 million in 2000, but still less than the 1995 total of $54 million (a 9% decline). Between 1995 and 2005, there was a net loss of 54 income-reporting farms, most of which (44 farms) were in the capital region's electoral areas.
In 2005, the total value per hectare of gross farm receipts grew to $6,000 (from approximately $5,000 in 2000), which was a significant drop from $6,600 per hectare a decade earlier. One third of the farms in 2005 (242 farms) produced gross annual farm receipts of more than $10,000, amounting to 96% of total earnings. The remaining farms (with less than $10,000) produce less than 4% of the gross farm receipts. Smaller farms (<2.2 hectares) produced more than three times the value per hectare (in gross farm receipts) than large farms (>4.2 hectares).
There are more than 30 community gardens and approximately 1,100 plots throughout the CRD. Some were established as far back as the 1970s, while others have been created as recently as 2011. You can check out our Food Finder map to find the community garden closest to you or check out our Gardens page to watch the progress on the 5 new school vegetable gardens that are being built as a part of this project.