UBC Undergraduate Research

Economic sustainability at the UBC Farm : exploring alternative crops, new partnerships, and long-term… Alidina, Amil; Chau, Alfred; Fok, Arnold; Lai, Angela; MacRae, Amelia; Rzyski, Renata; Willis, Joanne 2005-04-08

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Notice for Google Chrome users:
If you are having trouble viewing or searching the PDF with Google Chrome, please download it here instead.

Item Metadata


18861-Alidina_A_et_al_SEEDS_2005.pdf [ 552.7kB ]
JSON: 18861-1.0108726.json
JSON-LD: 18861-1.0108726-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 18861-1.0108726-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 18861-1.0108726-rdf.json
Turtle: 18861-1.0108726-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 18861-1.0108726-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 18861-1.0108726-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student Report       Economic Sustainability at the UBC Farm: exploring alternative crops, new partnerships, and long-term plans Amil Alidina, Alfred Chau,, Arnold Fok, Angela Lai,, Amelia MacRae, Renata Rzyski, Joanne Willis  University of British Columbia AGSC 450 April 8, 2005           Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”. Economic Sustainability at the UBC Farm:   exploring alternative crops, new partnerships, and long-term plans.              Group 2:        Amil Alidina, Alfred Chau,       Arnold Fok, Angela Lai,     Amelia MacRae, Renata Rzyski,   Joanne Willis            AGSC 450 Professor Alejandro Rojas April 8, 2005   Table of Contents 1.0  ABSTRACT  .......................................................................................................................................................... 3 2.0 INTRODUCTION AND PROBLEM DEFINIT IO N  ............................................................................................ 4 3.0 GROUP BIASES AND REFLECTIONS ON T HE U BCFSP VI SIO N STATEME NT  .................................. 5 4.0 TASKS  ................................................................................................................................................................... 6 5.0 METHO DOLOGY  ................................................................................................................................................. 7 6.0 FIND ING S  ............................................................................................................................................................. 8 6.1 CURRENT AGRICULTURAL SCHEMES AT THE UBC FARM.  .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8  6.2 OT HER UNI V ERSIT Y FARMS. .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9  6.3 LOCAL MARKET FOR UBC FARM PRODUCTS.  .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10  6.4 NON-T IMBER FOREST PRODUCT OPPORTUNIT IES. .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12  6.5 SP ECIALTY EGG PRODUCTION. .  .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12  6.6 COLLABORATION WITH T HE UBC FOOD CO-OP.  .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14  6.7 T HE NECESSIT Y OF A TRACTOR.  .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14  7.0 DI SCUSS IO N  ...................................................................................................................................................... 15 7.1 PHY SICAL EXPANSIO N OF CULTIVATABLE FARMLAND ON T HE FARM  ....................................... 15 7.2 SP ECIALTY IT EM PRODUCTION AND RESEARCH POT ENT IAL ON FARM  ..................................... 16 7.3 EX PLORING STRAWBERRY PRODUCTION POTE NT IAL  ...................................................................... 18 8.0 RECOMMENDATIONS  ..................................................................................................................................... 18 9.0 CONCLUSION  .................................................................................................................................................... 20 00 :25.S C,7E'««««««««««««««««««««««««««««««««««««2  List of Figures A33E1',; A S3EC,A/7< ,7E0 SU59E<«««««««««««««««««««««««««2        1. 0            Abstract  The UBC Farm remains a vestige of invaluable local biodiversity in an increasingly urban setting.  It is a unique venue for student-centered learning and locally grown organic produce, which continues to serve a thriving market garden. Considering the research and recommendations of previous assessments of the Farm, it is evident that effort must be made to increase its financial viability, while maintaining its principles and practices of socio-ecological sustainability, in order to ensure its permanence.  After analyzing its current operations and surveying various schemes used at other North American university farms, we have developed several recommendations and strategies that take into account the different challenges that pertain to the UBC Farm.  It is our view that the Farm needs to expand its cultivated area so as to increase direct sales to current clients (including Sage Bistro and other UBC outlets), expand into new markets (such as local restaurants), as well as develop a mixed-crop plan that would continue to serve the Market Garden and integrate higher-value, long-term crops for new markets.  This is a unique vision for a university farm.  However, its fulfillment is hindered by a lack of external funding and a relatively small land-base (the cultivatable area is limited to 8 ha, of which less than half is in use). Most importantly, the Farm falls within the UBC Official Community Plan’s ‘future housing reserve.’ This means that it is at risk of development for residential housing.  These specific challenges and conditions provided the impetus for our research, and they indicate the need for innovative projects to expand the operation of the farm and preserve its social integrity and economic viability.             2. 0 Introduction and Problem Definition The UBC South Campus Farm is a unique on -ca mpus urban agro -ecos yst em.   It consi sts of 40 hectar es of fores t, brush and gardens (UBC Farm 2005 ). As a sit e of small -scale , diversified agriculture, the Farm is int e gr al to the cu rricula of Th e Agri cult ural Scien ces department and int rinsicall y link ed to its conc epts of land, food and comm unit y. It is an invaluable sit e of ex perienti al learning wh ere students are provided the opportuni t y to get first hand ex perience in sust ainable agricult ur e and has host ed nearl y thi rt y courses in forestr y, botan y, biol o g y, ecolog y, and appli ed scien ce (UBC Farm, 2005).      The prim ar y functi on of the Farm is as an edu cati onal and rese arch facil it y but it is also a mul ti purpose space. Th e forest - farm landsc ape incre ases the biodi vers it y of both plants and anim als, and provides habit at for a wide ran ge of species.  It contribut es gre en, aestheti call y pleasing spa ce for comm unit y enjo ym ent, and promot es environmental consciousness as well as respect for nature. Its pro visi on of fresh, hi gh qu al it y, or ganicall y grown pr oduce pur chasabl e on sit e helps foster a closer relations hip between pr oducers and consum ers. Overall , the Farm is important as a model for sust ainable agricultural practi ces and serv es to create a bett er understandin g of local fo od s ystems. That said, despite the farm’s undeniable environmental, social and educational value, it also has prim e real estat e value esti mated at four to ten mill ion doll ars an acr e (Ma gee, 2003 ).  Due to its high economi c worth and ideal locati on, the farm is at risk of being dev eloped for residential housing. Currently, it is part of the university’s ‘Future Housing Reserve’ and alt hough it would requir e an amendment to the Official Comm unit y Pla n, it could be dev eloped as soon as 2012 (U BC OCP , 2003). A revie w of student rese arch from the sp ring and summ er of 2004 rev eale d findings and recomm endati ons th at se t the framewo rk fo r ou r specific problem definiti on at the UBC Farm.  Conversati ons with the UBC Fa rm Progr am Coordinator, Mark Bomfo rd, and with the manager of Sage Bist ro, J ohn Fli pse, added invaluable insi ght and helped refin e the scope of our rese arch questi on.  Specificall y, the central thesis for our assi gnment is to investi gate wa ys which we can enhance the Farm’s economic sustainability, thus helping to ensure its permanence, given that it ma y be lost to developm ent in the near future.  3. 0 Group Biases and Reflections on the UBCFSP Vision Statement It is the view of our group that the farm’ s contri buti on to UBC as a rese a rch facil it y and educati on sit e far outwe ighs its monetar y value. Few North Ame rican universit ies have on -campus farms and its developm ent as an ythi n g other than an agricult ur al centr e would be an irrepar able loss . We feel i t is important to preserv e the farm as a model of sust ainable agriculture, not onl y be c ause of its int e gral si gnifi canc e to the AGS C facul t y, but also be cause of an ethi cal obli gati on to future UBC students.  We must emphasiz e our posit ion that we do not f eel the farm should be viewed through an economic paradigm and as the farm’s primary purpose is for educ ati on and res ear ch, its go al sh ould not be one of econo mi c profit .  Howev er, we do reco gniz e that it if the UBC Farm is to be an accu rate model of a sus tainable, workin g agricultural sit e, it must embod y the principl es of economi c as well as ecolo gical and so cial sust ainabili t y.  Enhan cin g its fin ancial viabili t y and cr eati n g a diversifie d revenu e stre am will help ensure the resil ienc e of the farm to cont inue it s current lev el of pro gr a mm ing.  Given these group values, our impressions of the general UBCFSP guiding principles were predominantly positive.  We highly value the protection of ecosystem diversity and integrity.  Our group recognizes that the cultivation of strong local food systems is integral to many of the goals of the UBC Farm.  We are encouraged by ideas surrounding the local handling of wastes and think that the UBC Farm could be an excellent example of “closed-loop” nutrient management- especially if animals were re-introduced to it.  We are excited by values that support a socially conscious, community-focused food system and concur that the enjoyment of food is a key tenet of the UBCFSP. (Rojas, personal communication, January 26, 2005). However, there are two areas in the Vision Statement that we would like to add to or change.   First, we agree that education is critical to the success of the UBCFSP but think it is important that education be made available to people, rather than imposed upon them.  Universities are essential instigators of change, but they should also be forums for disagreement and debate – education should not change people’s thoughts or actions, but should provide people with the means to change themselves.  Second, we find it difficult to reconcile the vision for “affordable food for all” with goals of economic viability.  Food should be affordable for all, but it is also essential it not be undervalued.  Conversely, we think that financial motives may contradict goals for building involved, equitable, healthy, local food communities.  We views goals for economic viability with mixed feelings, similar to the views we have regarding the UBC Farm, as expressed above.  We recognize that UBC may be viewed as a social microcosm (and therefore must demonstrate economic sustainability), but think that universities, as community leaders and centers of knowledge, should not be profitable.  Rather, they should contribute to society by stimulating change and by exploring alternatives to the status quo.    4. 0 Tasks The Farm’s total yearly operating costs for education, researc h, food producti on and comm unit y outre ach is approx im atel y $150,00 0 (Mark Bom ford, per sonal comm unicati on, March 10, 2005).  Although the Farm as a whole can cover its costs , the market gard en runs an annual deficit .  It se ems reasonabl e to att empt to earn rou ghl y $50,000 fro m the market gard en (and related agricult ur al ende avors) for th e fo od producti on el ement to break even (Ma rk Bomford, personal com muni cati on, March 10, 2005).  In 2004, farm pro ducts incurred $30,000 so we decided to investi gat e proje ct s that could come close r to att aini ng the $50,000 revenu e goal.  Given const raint s on capit al and labour, we originall y beli eved the best opti on for increasin g rev enue was not to cult ivate more land for the ex pansion of current crop producti on, but inst ead to focus on producin g specialt y crop s, which have hi ghe r pr ofit margins. We later discovered that ex pansio n of cult ivated land is al so nec essar y to raise rev enues and de cided on the foll owing main tasks: 1)       C onsult with campus food providers to add res s potenti al levels of coll a borati on. 2)       Anal yz e the Market Garden to det ermine the most profit able crops to be grown. 3)       Ex plore ways to rais e funds to acquir e a tr act or. 4)       R esearch other unive rsit y fa rms.   5)       Ex plore Agrofo restr y and anim al producti on opportuni ti es at the farm.  5.0 Methodology  Research methods inclu ded an ove rview of past findings gen erated by AGSC 450 students; int erviews with Mark Bomford (UBC F arm Coordinator) and J ohn Fil pse (Mana ge r of Sage Bist ro); an int ernet investi gati on of other universit y farm models; a review of literature on agro -fo restr y, free-r an ge egg producti on, crop pric es, crop requir ements, specialt y crops, etc;  an d an int roductor y surv e y of restaur ants  in the loc al comm unit ies adjacent to the UBC campus (Appendix A).  This surve y was conducted to determi ne whethe r there i s a market niche for specialt y crops and supp ort for th e UBC Farm among loc al restaurants.  Preli mi nar y re sea rch int o edibl e agrofo restr y crops was also included in the surve y to compl e ment the crop res ear ch.  The food varieti es includ ed in the su rve y wer e ch osen from a list of high - d emand spe cialt y items provided by Sage Bist ro and wer e selected based on the crops’ suitability to Vancouver’s climate and the const raint s of the UBC Farm soil .  The North Caroline State Universit y condu cted a sim il ar surve y at the beginni ng of th eir Specialt y Crops Progr am and foun d conclusi ve result s to successfull y launch th eir Specialt y Crops Pro gr am (North Carolina State Universit y, 2002).    6. 0 Findings 6 .1 Most current agricultural schemes at the Farm are socially valuable, but each individual project generates little income and involves only minimal interaction with the other components of the UBC Farm.  In other words, each separate plot is its own satellite community ± this has the potential for discouraging interaction, sharing, and a ³systems´ view   Current projects at the UBC Farm include the Market Garden, the Musqueam Community Kitchen Garden, the Maya Demonstration Garden Project, and the Bee Project. Produce from the UBC Farm is sold in the largest volume at the Saturday morning Market Garden held from May until October. Student gardeners sell over sixty types of fresh vegetables, fruits, berries, herbs, flowers, eggs, and honey. The majority of these products are grown using organic farming methods and many of the crop varieties are rare and reflective of our local agricultural heritage. The UBC Farm Market provides opportunity for customers and gardeners to directly interact and communicate (UBCFarm, 2005).    The Musqueam Community Kitchen Garden plot is managed by students and nutritionists from the Musqueam First Nation. The garden supplies produce that meets specific nutritional needs such as diets that are compatible with diabetes (UBC Farm, 2005).  Ancient agricultural techniques known to the Mayan culture are utilized in Maya Garden Project. The Garden is a place for sharing traditional knowledge, as well as for research and community outreach. It also supplies traditional medicinal and nutritional plants to the Maya Cultural Education Society and community (UBC Farm, 2005).      The UBC Farm also sells honey and beeswax produced by the UBC Farm Bee Project (UBC Farm, 2005).           6 .2 Other university farms are larger, operate in multiple locations, and are actively involved in research.  As a result, they have a greater capacity for securing funding from government and the private sector.     Group 9 from the spring of 2004 researched other university farm operations as possible models for the UBC Farm (UBCFSP 2004).  In conversations with Mark Bomford, he requested additional “information that is not on [the other farms’] websites” such as financial details, successes, failures, and suggestions.  Our group identified UBC Farm’s financial need to increase its research and to develop industry partnerships.  We expanded on Group 9’s research of other university farms and brainstormed avenues through which the Farm could meet its goals of financial viability.  The managers of other university farms were not contacted. The McGill University and the Universities of Alberta, Manitoba, Illinois, Iowa, and California were researched.  These farms have the financial advantage of economies of scale they are much larger and are more actively involved in on-site research than is the UBC Farm.  As a result, they are in receipt of greater funding from a variety of sources such as government and industry.  At present, the South Campus UBC farm is pursuing a limited research agenda that needs to focus on bringing industry, government, researchers and students into a more integrated farm program.  The University of California has demonstrated that this idea of pursuing a twin mandate of research and farm production is possible. It has extensive research facilities but also cultivates twenty-seven acres of organic produce under, which it sells at a local CSA (UC, 2005).  Group 10 is currently investigating the feasibility of a similar model at the UBC Farm (UBCFSP 2005).   The McGill University farm earns revenue from the delivery of its own curricula.  Forty agriculture students from McGill participate in a program where they receive academic credit for milking their farm’s dairy cows (McGill, 2005).  UBC students can already earn three to six credits for conducting field work at the Farm (Quinde 2005).   6 .3 There is a potential market for UBC Farm products.  However, local chefs have little Nnowledge of the Farm¶s crop selection and therefore, do not buy its products. Our prim ar y resea rch re garding lo cal demand fo r specialt y crops invol ved consul tations with J ohn Fli pse, Manage r of Sage Bist ro, as well as other Point Gre y area ch efs.  We studi ed Sage Bist ro as a mod el for other high - end restaur ants because it alread y coll a borates with the UBC Farm.  Sage Bistro was responsible for approximately $4000 of the UBC Farm’s income last year and, according to Mr. Flipse, is committed to buying “as much produce as [the Farm] can grow”.    Also, Mr. Fli pse sugge sted an investi gati on of crops that local chefs cannot find  for ex ampl e, herita ge crops, edibl e nati ve plants, an d an ythi ng of unusual co lour.  An int roductor y surve y of fin e-cuisi ne restaurants in the Point Gre y comm u nit y was con ducted to assess wh at special produc e might be desired b y chefs.  Int e rnet rese ar ch helped to determi ne which of the special crops could be grown given the constraints of climate, soil, labour, capital and funding at the UBC Farm. Mark Bomford provided a list of the Farm’s best -sell ing produce so we could determi ne which of the crops (if an y) request ed by the chefs were alre ad y in producti on.  From our Specialt y Foo d surve y, we found tha t high -end restaur ants (such as Provence Mediterran ean Gril l ) import specialt y items withi n Canada and from the United States.  These include items such as field mint, bab y carrots, J apanese eggplants, blac k raspber ries, o yst er mush rooms, wild strawberries, shii take mush roo ms, and vanil la beans.  After talkin g to t he Food Import Man a ger of Provence Medite rran ean Gril l, J usti n Faubert, we fo und that he would be int erested in purch asing spe cialt y food items and regular produc e from the UBC Farm.  However, he has never done so as he is unaware of the UBC Farm’s product ion capabil it ies.  We also found that the owne rs of The Naam ar e int er ested in bu yin g or gani c crops from th e Farm.  Howeve r, the y ar e not int erested in the pu rchas e of speci alt y it ems, which are too ex oti c for their cuisi ne. Instead, the y wo uld like to pur chase item s such as potatoes and on ions.   Additi onall y, we found t hat West Point Organi c Produce, an or ganic shop along West 4 t h , sell s specialt y foods suc h as bab y ca rrots, snow peas, su gar sn aps peas, s hii take mush room and Asian bok cho y.  Thou gh we did not hav e the chance to speak with the owner or man a ger, we beli eve that a potential coll aborati on could ex ist between West Point Organic Produce and the UBC Farm, given their close prox im it y to each oth er and their sh ared or gani c visi on.   6 .4 There is a potential local market for non-timber forest products, but any attempts at agroforestry need to involve a well-researched, well-funded, long-term commitment.    Fifteen he ctar es of the UBC Farm are fo rested (Bomford, pe rsonal co mm unicati on, March 2005 ) and as a res ult , there is gr eat pot enti a l for the producti on of no n -ti mber for est goods (Smi th, personal comm unicati on, March 20 05).  Small -scale mush room cult ivation was att empt ed in the past and was unsu ccess ful.  This fail ure s eems to have pro duced a reluc tanc e to further ex plore agrofor e str y possi bil it ies at th e Farm.  How eve r, our re search (support ed b y responses from our resta urant surve y (App endix A)) su ggests that edibl e nati ve plant producti on (elderb err y, soapb err y, wild onion, wild ginger , etc.), mu shroom producti on, and landscap e tree/herb/shrub produ cti on could profit abl y sati sf y a local niche market and could create ex cit ing resea rch opportuni ti es (Small Woodlands Progr am of BC, 2001).  Fu rt hermore, agrofor estr y ecos ystems enh anc e fo re st biodi vers it y, anim al ha bit at, soil nutrient c ycli n g, wate r cons ervati on, and microcli mate stabil iz ati on (Kurtz , Garr et, an d Slusher, 1996), thus su pporting the UBCFS P goal of enhancin g ecos ys tem biodi versit y and int e grit y (Rojas, person al co mm unicati on, J anuar y 26,  2005).  Curr entl y, t he succ ess of agrofor est r y at the UBC Farm is const rained b y poo r funding and limi ted human labour.    6 .5 The production of specialty eggs has the potential to increase the revenue of the UBC Farm as currently in BC, the demand for specialty eggs (particularly organic, free range) exceeds the supply .  W e investi gated the poss ibi li t y of producin g fr ee range, or gani call y grown eggs at the UBC Farm.  A proje ct to produce spe cialt y eggs is currentl y bein g impleme nted by sever al AGS C studen ts and eggs shoul d be avail able fo r purchase b y th e UBC comm unit y in sprin g 2005. Although the Farm is not certified or gani c, the flock wil l be mana ged using Certified Organic Asso ciations of Britis h Col umbi a (COABC ) standa rds and custo mers can obse rve the local, on-sit e producti on (Davis et al., 2005). Eggs will be sold at the UBC Farm Mark et, Sprouts and the MacMi ll an buil ding for $5.00/doz en in reused ca rtons (the bre ak even pric e for the fi rst ye ar is $4.6 9/doz en). The first ye a r sal es are project ed to be $6586.67 with a net income of $406.35 and t he second ye ar projecti on is $7866.67 with a net earnin g of $678. 13.  The goal of the curr e nt egg pr oducti on project is not profit , but instead educ ati on so the y plan to reinvest net inco me back int o the flock (Davis et al., 2005). Egg production for specialty eggs (organic, free range) is subject to quota over 99 birds (CEMA, 2005).  In the current egg production plan, the flock will consist of 80 birds and will not exceed 99 birds.  However, unlike other small producers, because UBC Farm is legally structured as a research institution, it is exempt from the 99-bird quota limit, which leaves room to expand the flock in the future. C urrentl y in BC, the dem and for spe cialt y eggs (p articularl y or ganic, fr ee range) ex ce eds the suppl y ( BC Egg Producers Association, 2005) so expanded production would increase profits. The Farm already has the long-term capital equipment required to manage a small flock – land, buildings for a chicken run, a hen house with nesting boxes, perches, feeders, waterers, an egg washer and a storage room with a cooler. However, the current hen house cannot accommodate more than 85 birds and higher egg volume would require more handling. Therefore, increasing the current production plan would require a financial investment and an increase of labour.  Overall, specialty egg production has the potential to increase the Farm’s revenue if the flock is expanded in the future.  In the interim, the current egg project will help achieve the Farm’s goals of providi ng loc all y, agr o -ecolo gicall y produ ced food to the UBC comm u nit y. The inclusion of an animal component at the Farm will also create a more complete farm model. Lastly, it will provide further research opportunities and create an experiential learning environment in the areas of animal science, animal management and animal welfare.  6 .6 Sprouts maintains an interest in supplying Farm produce to customers, but is not interested in buying unusual/specialty produce.  Our group approa ched t he UBC Food Co -op (S prouts), which is located in the Student Union Buil ding. Unfo rtu natel y, the id ea of suppl yi n g Sprouts with specia lt y crops was reje cted by the sta ff.  The man a gem ent of the store co n cluded that curr entl y th ere is no demand for specialt y items among their custom ers and t hat most novelt y prod ucts end -up as waste.  Therefo re, Sprouts will conti nue to ord er onl y the most popular produ cts. Possi bl y, a more int ensive marketi n g str at eg y would help to ch an ge thi s sit uati on; rega rdle ss, the store is not yet read y to commi t to thi s.      6 .7 The UBC Farm requires a tractor.  An individual or group is needed to commit to a long-term industry partnership or fundraising campaign.      The mark et gard en is not financiall y viabl e in pa rt becaus e the cult ivated ar ea of the Farm is small  and cannot ben e fit from economi es of sc ale.  One wa y of inc reasi ng rev enues would be to ex pand producti on, but thi s is not possi ble without at le ast one addit ional tr actor.  Furthermore, the Farm’s existing tractor will soon need to b e repla ce d (Bomfo rd, person al comm unicati on, March 21, 2005).  How ever, th e Farm cannot afford an y new machin er y given its current revenues.  These factors combined trap the Farm’s production in a negative economic c yc le.    One possible way of circumventing this cycle would be to obtain a tractor through a donation or an industry partnership.  Mark Bomford advised that the attainment of a tractor is not an appropriate project for our group because the research process could prove to be lengthy, because UBC must follow a specific fundraising protocol that ensures a professional donor relationship, and because the individual who secures the donation must maintain a connection with the donor over a number of years (personal communication, March 21, 2005).    7. 0 Discussion Our research findings suggest that the growing of specialty crops does have the potential to enhance the financial viability of the farm, as there is a high demand for these crops. However, contrary to our initial belief, for this plan to be financially successful it may be necessary to expand the cultivated area.  Such an expansion would require a monetary investment, which due to the farm’s uncertain future is not without risk. However, we arrived at the conclusion that although there is some risk involved, making a financial commitment to expand farm production will help ensure the Farm’s permanence for future UBC students and community members.   7 .1 Physical Expansion of Cultivatable Farmland on the Farm The UBC Farm cu rrentl y has ei ght he ctar es of farmland with three hect ares cult ivated land and five he ctar es uncult ivated. Whil e pro ducti on and sal es hav e increas ed dr amaticall y during the first four years of the UBC farm’s operation, revenues from product sales remain insufficient to cove r the costs of producti on. Th er efore, the problem do es not appear to be due to a lack of int er est from custom ers, but rather du e to limi ts of producti on. UBC Fa rm Market Garden onl y mad e $33,280 from sales in 2004; however, to work wit hin the economi call y su stainable model su gge sted by Mr. Bomford, it shoul d make $50,000 annuall y to cove r its producti on costs .  As soon as possi ble, three hectares of the currentl y uncul ti vated land shoul d be used to gro w the spe cialty crops demand ed b y loc al restaur ants.   7 .2 Specialty Item Production and Research Potential on Farm Given the constraint of limited cultivatable lands on the UBC farm, planting specialty crops that yield higher profit appears to be one of the most efficient ways to improve the profitability of the UBC Farm.  Upscale restaurants and specialty stores are often willing to pay higher prices for quality produce and hard-to-get items (Colorado State University, 2003).  In some cases, growers can receive a minimum of 10 percent increase in profit over wholesale terminal prices for standard items at mainstream restaurants (Colorado State University, 2003).  However, specialty crops may have a limited market as they are considered to be too exotic for smaller restaurants and regular households.  Furthermore, upscale restaurants may buy in limited quantities only for a short season.  As a result, a survey was conducted in the local communities adjacent to the UBC campus to determine whether there is a demand and market niche for specialty items and support for the UBC Farm among the local restaurants.  A sample survey can be found in Appendix A. As the surve y has demons trated, it appears a market niche does ex ist for UBC Fa rm specialt y items.  Howev e r, the Pro gram Coordinat or of the UBC Farm, Ma rk Bomford (personal comm unicati on, Mar ch 16, 2005) has indi cated that man y of the spe cial t y items on th e surv e y are eit her bein g produc e d curr entl y, or hav e be e n att empt ed unsucc essfu ll y in the past.  This leads our group to concl ude that the specialt y cro p program at the UBC Farm must be ex panded beyond its current scale in order to increase the farm’s rev enue.  Aside fro m ph ysic al ex pansion of the Farm, investm ents shoul d be made on res ea rch of suit able producti o n methods for some of the high -mar gin, hi gh -d e mand crops such as shii take mush rooms and o yst er mush rooms, whi ch were eit her produ ced uns uccessfull y in the past or have not yet be en att emp ted.   Organic gr een hous es ca n be consi der ed to implement ye ar - round product ion on the UBC Farm to max im iz e producti on potential as well as its value in innovati ve agricultural resea rch.  In addit ion, the UBC Fa r m shoul d consi der inve sti ng in establi shin g clo ser relations hips with merchants and residents of the local comm unit y.  This can be don e b y hiring a marketi n g te am to contact potential major custom ers and advertise for the UBC Farm in the local nei ghborhood. As menu planning for resta urants can take up to 6 mont hs, a marketi ng tea m could also establi sh bett er comm unic ati ons on the t ypes and avail abil it y of produ ce at the UBC Farm to facil it ate thi s planning (J usti n Fauber t, Provence Mediterran ean Ba r and Gril l , per sonal comm unicati on, March 22, 2005).  Th e current UBC Farm websit e could be improved to all ow feedb ack from custom ers, so that the changin g needs of the bu ye r s can be met.  This would help develop the niche for UBC Farm pro duce.  At the launch of the official Specialt y Cro p Program at the UBC Farm, demons tr ati on booths could be set up on the farm to which local bu sinesses and residents could be invi ted to sam ple the products and be fami li ariz ed with the val ue and missi on of the Farm.     7 .3 Exploring Strawberry Production Potential W e recomm end usin g the rem aini ng two hectar es of cult ivatable land to grow strawber ries as a longer -term investm ent fo r thr ee reasons. First, the re i s a great demand for strawber ries in Canada. Presentl y, Canad a consu mes far more strawb errie s than it produces, thus importing the majorit y of purchasable strawb erri es from Cali fornia, Florida, Poland and Mex ico. Secondl y, str awbe rries have the fastest posi ti ve return in three ye ars with the lowest ini ti al cost during the first two ye ar s. Under the current cir c umst ances, thi s is ex actl y what the UBC Farm needs, fast returns with low investm ent. Thirdl y, strawber r y farm -sale pri ces hav e incr eased b y 42% over the last fou r ye ars (BCMAF F). This secti on focus ed on specific pro gr ams cu r re ntl y unde rtaken b y univ ersiti es ac ross North America that ar e transferabl e or con gru ent with our visi on plan for the UBC farm. However, given the duality of the Farm’s mandate for education and economic viability, it is clear that UBC farm has a unique set of circumstances.  Diversifying the Farm’s crop plan and ex panding the cult ivate d ar ea has sev eral chal lenges and durin g the i nvesti gati on of other universit y farms, it was evident that to achieve these chan ges a board of ma nagers, a prof essi onal staff, and a combi nati on of private / publi c invest ment would be nec essar y.      8.0 Recommendations  Based on our group’s findings and discussions above, we arrived at the following recommendations for the UBC Farm with the goal to secure long term financial viability of all aspects of the farm: 1.      Amplify the financial investments to the farm, possibly through government farm loan programs or research partnerships with private companies.  This would enable the farm to: (a)    Purchase a new tractor to cultivate currently unused farmland and expand beyond current production potential.  i)                    Research tractor models (and compatible attachments) appropriate for the market garden.  ii)                   Investigate potential donors and partnerships.  For example, a research partnership with the bio-diesel industry.     iii)                 Prepare persuasive reasons why a dealership might want to collaborate with the UBC Farm.   (b)   Implement an agroforestry program.  This will require detailed research and a long-term commitment.  (c)    Resume research on high-profit, high-demand items which have been produced unsuccessfully on the farm in the past (ex. exotic mushrooms) (d)   Establish a marketing team to enhance communications with restaurant buyers and promote specialty items.  2.      Explore potential to implement actions outlined in points (a) to (d) above. 3.       Explore strawberry production and greenhouse production potentials. 4.       Collaborate with students from the Sauder School of Business to develop a business plan for the Farm.   5.       Improve the network between the UBC Farm, UBC’s dairy research facility at Agassiz, and any future UBC farms in the Okanagan.  This could synergize research and the market garden by supplying services and foods that are unavailable at the Farm. 6.       Contact other university farms for specific information and suggestions. 7.      Advertise amongst UBC students that academic credits can be earned for work done at the Farm. Encourage participation of on-site research projects by various faculties and schools at UBC for a more holistic improvement of individual components of the farm system.   8.       Develop a non-profit component to the UBC Farm that could support the local Food Bank and thus be eligible for the Vancity Credit Union EnviroFund Grant of up to $40,000.  9.       Expand the production of free-range, organically produced eggs.  The basis for our recomm endati ons can be found in the discussi on and findings secti ons of thi s paper.  9.0 Conclusion  Our res ear ch findin gs suggest that the growin g of specialt y crops does h av e the potenti al to enhance th e financi al viabil it y of the farm, as t here is a demand for th ese crops b y restaur ants and or ganic produce stor es. Since the rev enue gen erated from Mark et Gard en is just sufficient to maintain current op erati o n of the farm, in ord er fo r this p lan to be financial l y succ essful, ther e needs to be an ex pansion in culti vatable area.  Thi s will require monetar y i nvestm ent from the gove rnment or other inst i tut ion for the purchas e of new tracto r and fo r human labor.  Althou gh there  is some risk involved, making a finan cial co mm it ment to ex pand far m producti on will help ensure the Farm’s permanence for future UBC students and community members.  10. 0 Appendix A  Restaurant Name:   UBC Farm Project ± Specialty Item Survey   Please highlight your choices for the questions below: 1.                   Does your restau rant purch ase an y of the foll owing specialt y food i tems?                     Black huckleberr y                      Field mint                     R ed oak lettuce                     R ed huckleberr y                      Yerba Buena                     Enoki mushroom                     Low bush/m ountain cranbe rr y                      S oapberr y                     O yster mush roo m                     li ngoberr y                     S oopolalli e                     W ild strawberr y [woodland strawber r y]                     Blue elderberr y                     W ild ginger                     Mount ain sweet cicel y                      C hocolate lil y                     Bab y ca rrot                     P urple sweet cic el y                      Nodding onion [Hooker’s onion]                     S now peas                     W ild cara wa y/c arrot                     Harvest oni on                     S ugar snaps pe as                     Indian celer y                      Tiger lil y                     Green zucchini                     S hiitake mush room                      Fair y sli pper                     J apanese eggpla nt                     Vanilla bean                      P ink slipper orch id                     Ic eber g lettuc e                     R ed raspberr y                      S heep sorrel [mount ain sorrel]                      Blackcap                     Trail ing blackbe rr y                     S askatton berr y                      Black raspberr y                     Asian Bok Cho y                     S erviceberr y                     Thim bleberr y                     S alm onberr y   2.       If an y of the produ cts were pu rchas ed, whe re are the y imported from?                     W ithi n lower Mainland                     From U.S                     W ithi n B.C                     Outside of North America                     W ithi n Can ada                     Others: ______________   3.       If an y of th e produ c ts were purch ased, woul d you r restaur ant consi d er bu yin g it from the UBC fa rm if the y ar e av a il able?         Yes        No   4.       Aside from the items listed above in Q1, are ther e other specialt y items your restau rant would like to purchase fr om a local produc er? If yes, please spe cif y:         10. 0 Works Cited  BC Egg Producers Association. (2005). Retrieved March 8, 2005 from the World Wide Web:   http://www.bcegg.com/aboutproducers.htm Bomford, Ma rk. Personal int erview. 9 t h , 10 th , 16 th , & 21 st  of Mar ch, 2005 Canadian Egg Marketing Association (CEMA). (2005). Retrieved March 8, 2005 from the World  Wide Web: http://www.canadaegg.ca/EQ/e/ Colorado State University.  (2003). The Specialty Crop Program at Colorado State University. Retrieved on March 22, 2005 from the World Wide Web : htt p:/ /www.specialt yc rop s.colostate.edu/S C P _about.ht m  Davis, P., Flint, A., Nimmo, J., & Sproule, F. (2005). UBC Farm Fresh Eggs. Unpublished business plan written for Food and Resource Economics 302, University of British Columbia. Kurtz, W.B., Garret, H.E., Slusher, J.P, & Osburn, D.B. 1996.  Economics of Agroforestry. University of Missouri Extension. Retrieved March 7, 2005 from the World Wide Web: http://muextension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/forestry/g05021.htm McGil l Universit y (2003 ).  Retrieved March 24, 2005 from the World-Wide Web:   http:/ /www.mcgil l.ca/m a cdonald/  Magee, Gar y. 2003. UBC Farm Still Important . The Ub ysse y. Retriev ed J anuar y 16, 2005 from the World Wide Web: htt p:/ /www.ub ysse y.bc. c a/arti cle.shtm l? /20011019/feature Fa rm.h t m l f  North Carolina State Uni versit y.  (2002).  Specialty Crops Survey for Western North Carolina .  Retrieved on Mar ch 22, 2005 from the World Wide Web:    http:/ /www.cals.ncsu.edu /specialt y_ crops/surve y.h tm l  Quinde, Rox ana. Persona l communi cati on, 17 Mar ch, 2005.  Rojas, Alejandro.  Perso nal communi cati on. 26 Januar y, 2005.  Small Woodlands Progra m of BC. 2001. Non Timber Forest Products: Marketing. R etrieved from the World Wide Web March 7, 2005: htt p:/ /www.woodlot.bc.ca/swp/ m yw/htm l/ 13_Nontim ber.htm  Smi th, Andrew.  Persona l communi cati on. 9 Marc h, 2005.  UBC. (2005). The UBC Farm.  R etri eved Ma rch 15, 2005 from the World Wide Web: htt p:/ /www.agsci.ubc. ca/ ubcfarm/f aq.php? id=16 UBC Official Community Plan (OCP). (2003). Retrieved March 16, 2005 from the World Wide Web: htt p:/ /ww w.ocp.ubc.ca/ocp/pdf/ ccpfinal/c cp .pdf  University of California (2003) 2001-2003 Activity Report and Research Summary.  Retrieved March 24, 2005 from the World-Wide Web: http://zzyx.ucsc.edu/casfs/ActivityRept_01_03  


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items