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Regional Food Strategy

By Mike Schneider - Posted on 22 February 2013

This is my comment in the Delta Optimist Feb 22 edition.....
You may have seen an article in the Vancouver Sun a couple of weeks back that discussed the idea of a “regional food strategy”. Kent Mullinix and his team from Kwantlen University have determined that billions of dollars of the food system economy are being lost to export markets.
There are no easy answers and no easy solutions but Kent and the Kwantlen sustainable agri-food systems group are at least identifying opportunities to make use of lands that are currently underutilized.
Metro Vancouver states that 20,000 hectares of ALR land are not farmed right now. That is a staggering figure. When we talk about losing ALR land for Port expansion in our neck of the woods we are talking about a tiny fraction of the underused ALR land total.
The City of Surrey commissioned Kwantlen to undertake a study of ALR lands and in its report, Kwantlen identified 2500 hectares of underutilized land.
“If the available underutilized ALR land was put to use in these small-scale, human-intensive farm operations, they could satisfy Surrey’s demand for 24 commonly consumed crops and animal products, create almost 2,500 jobs, and contribute over $173 million in gross receipts to Surrey’s agriculture sector, more than doubling the current size of the industry in Surrey,” the Kwantlen report states.” (van sun)
Kent and his group are discussing the regional food strategy with municipalities and cities from Hope to Squamish and everywhere in between.
You may love or hate Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and his attempts to position Vancouver as the “Greenest” of all through the Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP), but regardless, you have to admire his marketing sensibilities. He and his council’s quest for innovation appears to be earnest and practical.
A couple of weeks ago, a policy report from the Social Development office in Vancouver was submitted to Mayor and council with several recommendations for adopting and implementing the “Vancouver Food Strategy”.
Amongst the core goals in the strategy are to recognize food production possibilities in an urban neighbourhood context, to empower local neighbourhood residents through education , food access, food processing and distribution and dealing with food waste. They have a series of targets to increase the number of food hubs and local markets and are broadening the sense of collaboration amongst stakeholders and partners including local food groups, the Vancouver School Board and other partnerships and alliances.
You don’t have to look far to see the success of what Vancouver has achieved and will achieve. Solefood Streetfarms comes to mind.
Surrey is following suit and Richmond is doing some excellent work as well, and it is hoped that other municipalities will understand the importance of a strong regional food strategy built around traditional and new types of farming and bound by common themes of education, innovation and collaboration.
Delta is also poised to be a key player in Metro. In a recent letter to Superintendent Dianne Turner speaking to horticulture education initiatives in the district, Mayor and Council state that ‘The Corporation of Delta supports
this initiative to deliver quality education programs that could position Delta as an innovative leader in food system sustainability’.
Everyone wins.


Like school owned properties where the kids can see what they are growing at several times during the school day. Reinforcing food and growing in a social environment

There is no question that thoughtful understanding of opportunity is key for community health. Education about food is paramount to this end.

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