Jennifer Cody

Jennifer Cody

Nanaimo Urban Farm Project teaches skills to grow food on market garden scale

NANAIMO – Proponents of Nanaimo Urban Farm Project are preaching the virtues growing local food and farming.

Proponents of Nanaimo Urban Farm Project are preaching the virtues growing local food and farming.

The community initiative is located on a two-hectare plot of land in the Harewood area. Jennifer Cody, Nanaimo Foodshare Society executive director, a partner in the project, said the purpose of the project is to engage the community in learning the skills to work collectively to produce food on a market garden scale.

“The idea of the urban farm is to pass along those skills so that people in the community start to have an understanding … the hope is that we train people, who become more skilled, in agricultural work and potentially take on farming as something that they would want to do as people in this community,” said Cody.

Craig Evans, Nanaimo Foodshare Society director, said a wide variety of crops are grown – tomatoes, carrots, beets, kale and broccoli. The society partners with Growing Opportunities Farm Community Co-op, a non-profit whose aim is to educate people on how to grow.

“We work with people who do not have a lot of experience growing … we do all drip-line irrigation, do it on a larger scale than just a backyard garden,” said Evans.

The project land is not in the Agricultural Land Reserve – started to protect farmland – and the landowner is sharing the land with the society, Cody said. However, farmland in the area is becoming scarce.

“One of the major threats for farming is the availability of land and one of the things that’s happening, in terms of available land in urban areas, is there’s competition for maintaining farmland in agricultural production, but more often what happens is the farmland is taken out of production and is sold for residential development,” said Cody.

Cody said two-hectare parcels around the urban project site, on Park Avenue, have all been developed within the last three years.

Nanaimo Foodshare Society will hold a free panel discussion about land availability issues on Wednesday (April 27) at 201-96 Cavan Street, 7-9 p.m.

For more information, please contact Cody at 250-753-9393.