Information sessions aim to educate people on urban agriculture

Three information sessions designed to educate people on urban agriculture are being offered by Friends of Urban Agriculture Lantzville as the village continues to wrestle with what is and isn't acceptable when it comes to growing food on residential property.

Three information sessions designed to educate people on urban agriculture are being offered by Friends of Urban Agriculture Lantzville as the village continues to wrestle with what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to growing food on residential property.

Andrew Mostad, spokesman for FUAL, said too much information on acceptable urban farming practices has been skewed since the District of Lantzville served notice to Compassion Farm to cease and desist its farming activities due to a perceived contravention of zoning bylaws.

The quarrel has deeply entrenched parties on both sides of the argument.

Mostad said he hopes the sessions will bring a better understanding of the science behind urban farming to everybody.

“We saw a lot of information being passed around that was either rumour or wasn’t fully informed and we though it was our duty as the Friends of Urban Agriculture Lantzville to try and inform the people as much as we can about this very important issue,” he said. “We’ve seen this issue spread all around Vancouver Island, the Mainland and even as far as the rest of Canada. It has been very interesting.”

The issue has sparked the interest of Harold Steves, who agreed to give a presentation at the Sept. 25 meeting. Steves is a founder of the Agricultural Land Reserve and has served on Richmond municipal council continuously since 1977.

“It’s exciting to see Mr. Steves come to Lantzville and take an interest in our little town,” said Mostad. “He comes from a pioneer farm family and understands both the pressures on farming and on municipal councils to turn over good farm land for housing.”

Confirmed panelists in the culminating discussion on the district’s proposed bylaw amendment include: Janine De La Salle, planner and food and agriculture systems specialist with HB lanarc; and Louise Negrave, a Lantzville resident, agrologist and former organic farmer. Mostad said he hopes to secure an experienced Island farmer to contribute to the panel.

The information sessions will take place at the Lantzville Legion on Sept. 18, Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 from 2-4:30 p.m. Kicking off the series on Sept. 18 will be a showing of the 80-minute award-winning movie Dirt, based on the book by William Bryant Logan.

Mostad said the sessions are intended provide more accurate insight into urban farming.

“What my hope is is that people who have taken an interest but maybe haven’t taken the time to get to know the issues are the ones who come out and make the most of these information sessions,” said Mostad. “More than just the two divided camps, I want the rest of the public to come by and see what is going on.”

Admission to each session is by donation to help cover the costs of the rented hall, rights to show the movie and expenses for presenters.