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The current and potential influence of urban agriculture on local food systems : a case study of community.. Yarbrough, Gary 2012

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Dr. David Brownstein – Geog 419: Research in Environmental Geography April	
  11,	
  2012	
   	
   	
    The	
  Current	
  and	
  Potential	
  Influence	
  of	
  	
   Urban	
  Agriculture	
  on	
  Local	
  Food	
  Systems:	
   	
    	
    PHOTO:	
  New	
  West	
  Community	
  Garden,	
  Simcoe	
  Site	
  	
  	
  SOURCE:	
  Author	
   	
    A	
  Case	
  study	
  of	
  Community	
  Gardens	
  	
   in	
  New	
  Westminster,	
  British	
  Colombia	
   	
    By	
  Gary	
  Yarbrough,	
  in	
  partnership	
  with	
  the	
  New	
  Westminster	
  Gardening	
  Society	
    	
    	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  	
   1	
    Introduction	
   A	
  topic	
  currently	
  popular	
  in	
  urban	
  academia	
  is	
  that	
  of	
  urban	
  food	
  systems.	
  A	
   food	
  system	
  encompasses	
  the	
  activities	
  impacting	
  food	
  in	
  an	
  urban	
  space,	
  namely	
   food	
  consumption	
  and	
  production.	
  A	
  city	
  whose	
  food	
  system	
  has	
  a	
  large	
  amount	
  of	
   food	
  that	
  it	
  consumes	
  being	
  provided	
  by	
  the	
  food	
  that	
  it	
  produces	
  has	
  what	
  is	
  called	
   a	
  high	
  food	
  sufficiency	
  rate.	
  This	
  paper	
  will	
  examine	
  these	
  food	
  systems	
  and	
  focus	
   on	
  the	
  influence	
  of	
  urban	
  agriculture	
  on	
  their	
  food	
  sufficiency.	
  More	
  specifically,	
  the	
   research	
  questions	
  I	
  am	
  seeking	
  to	
  answer	
  pertain	
  to	
  the	
  case	
  study	
  of	
  the	
  city	
  of	
   New	
  Westminster,	
  British	
  Colombia.	
  These	
  research	
  questions	
  are	
  as	
  follows:	
  What	
   is	
  the	
  current	
  food	
  sufficiency	
  rate	
  in	
  New	
  Westminster?	
  (i.e.	
  what	
  are	
  the	
  current	
   food	
  consumption	
  and	
  production	
  rates?)	
  What	
  is	
  the	
  potential	
  food	
  production	
  rate	
   in	
  New	
  Westminster?	
  (what	
  could	
  the	
  food	
  sufficiency	
  rate	
  be?)	
  And	
  finally,	
  what	
  are	
   the	
  major	
  challenges	
  New	
  Westminster	
  is	
  facing	
  in	
  reaching	
  its	
  potential	
  food	
   sufficiency	
  rate?	
   The	
  research	
  presented	
  in	
  this	
  paper	
  will	
  provide	
  insight	
  into	
  the	
  data	
   needed	
  for	
  figures	
  of	
  current	
  local	
  food	
  consumption	
  and	
  production,	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  a	
   viable	
  figure	
  for	
  potential	
  production.	
  These	
  figures	
  will	
  be	
  estimated	
  based	
  on	
   varying	
  sources	
  such	
  as	
  recent	
  or	
  past	
  government	
  reports	
  for	
  Greater	
  Vancouver	
   and	
  similar	
  cities,	
  statistics	
  from	
  this	
  project’s	
  partner	
  organization	
  The	
  New	
   Westminster	
  Gardening	
  Society,	
  and	
  research	
  on	
  strategies	
  for	
  urban	
  agriculture.	
   Once	
  these	
  figures	
  have	
  been	
  presented	
  and	
  the	
  production	
  gap	
  calculated	
  –	
  that	
  is,	
   the	
  gap	
  between	
  the	
  actual	
  rate	
  and	
  potential	
  rate	
  of	
  food	
  production	
  –	
  the	
  largest	
   causalities	
  for	
  this	
  gap	
  will	
  be	
  identified.	
  Among	
  these	
  obstacles	
  include	
  ignorance	
  of	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  	
   2	
   opportunities,	
  differences	
  in	
  values,	
  lack	
  of	
  resources,	
  and	
  lack	
  of	
  motivation.	
   Finally,	
  based	
  on	
  these	
  findings	
  and	
  further	
  investigation,	
  suggestions	
  will	
  be	
   recommended	
  for	
  how	
  to	
  overcome	
  these	
  challenges	
  facing	
  urban	
  agriculture	
  in	
   New	
  Westminster	
  and	
  get	
  closer	
  to	
  achieving	
  the	
  city’s	
  true	
  potential	
  for	
  food	
   production.	
   	
   Background:	
  Food	
  Systems	
  and	
  Urban	
  Agriculture	
   Our	
  complex	
  food	
  systems	
  are	
  truly	
  what	
  allow	
  our	
  cities	
  to	
  exist.	
  In	
  fact,	
  urbanism	
   and	
  agriculture	
  were	
  born	
  together	
  in	
  history,	
  and	
  each	
  is	
  bound	
  to	
  the	
  other.	
  From	
   the	
  ancient	
  settlements	
  banked	
  on	
  the	
  Nile	
  river	
  to	
  the	
  Mayan	
  civilizations	
  that	
   inhabited	
  Machu	
  Pichu,	
  early	
  versions	
  our	
  the	
  world’s	
  modern	
  food	
  systems	
  go	
  far	
   back	
  in	
  History	
  (Havaligi,	
  2011).	
  People	
  would	
  not	
  be	
  able	
  to	
  coexist	
  in	
  the	
  great	
   densities	
  most	
  of	
  the	
  world	
  lives	
  in	
  today	
  if	
  not	
  for	
  the	
  enormous	
  and	
  complex	
   processes	
  of	
  our	
  food	
  systems	
  keeping	
  the	
  (majority	
  of	
  the)	
  population	
  fed.	
   Alarmingly,	
  these	
  wildly	
  important	
  food	
  systems	
  are	
  in	
  peril.	
  Economically,	
  socially,	
   and	
  especially	
  environmentally,	
  these	
  systems	
  are	
  poorly	
  planned	
  and	
  operate	
  in	
   patterns	
  that	
  are	
  unsustainable.	
  The	
  industrialization	
  of	
  these	
  food	
  systems	
  has	
  put	
   significant	
  distance	
  in	
  between	
  the	
  consumption	
  and	
  production	
  of	
  food	
  (Alastair,	
   2005).	
  These	
  distances	
  have	
  been	
  brought	
  to	
  more	
  of	
  the	
  public’s	
  attention	
  in	
  recent	
   years,	
  as	
  waves	
  of	
  ‘100-­‐mile’	
  and	
  ‘locavore’	
  diets	
  have	
  been	
  gaining	
  in	
  popularity.	
   These	
  are	
  diets	
  in	
  which	
  those	
  who	
  partake	
  seek	
  to	
  eat	
  100%	
  of	
  their	
  food,	
  or	
  as	
   much	
  as	
  possible,	
  from	
  local	
  sources.	
  Often	
  as	
  a	
  general	
  rule,	
  this	
  consumption	
  aims	
   to	
  be	
  within	
  100	
  miles	
  of	
  the	
  point	
  of	
  production	
  (Broadway	
  and	
  Broadway,	
  2011).	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  	
   3	
   This	
  is	
  an	
  aim	
  to	
  mediate	
  and	
  repair	
  the	
  physical	
  distance	
  between	
  the	
  consumers	
   and	
  producers	
  of	
  food,	
  a	
  form	
  of	
  this	
  separation	
  that	
  most	
  affects	
  the	
  environment.	
   The	
  transportation	
  of	
  food	
  is	
  the	
  main	
  cause	
  of	
  this	
  harm	
  to	
  the	
  environment.	
  As	
   produce	
  is	
  flown,	
  shipped,	
  and	
  trucked	
  around	
  the	
  world,	
  green	
  house	
  gasses	
  are	
   emitted	
  at	
  every	
  stage.	
  Much	
  of	
  the	
  food	
  demanded	
  in	
  our	
  food	
  systems	
  have	
  flown	
   and	
  driven	
  great	
  distances.	
  Most	
  consumers	
  do	
  not	
  consider	
  the	
  true	
  travel	
  costs	
   that	
  go	
  into	
  their	
  simple	
  grocery	
  trip,	
  very	
  possibly	
  containing	
  avocados	
  from	
   Mexico,	
  mandarins	
  from	
  China,	
  pineapples	
  from	
  Hawaii,	
  coffee	
  from	
  Panama,	
  and	
   Rice	
  from	
  Thailand.	
  These	
  increasingly	
  complex	
  and	
  extensive	
  transportation	
   logistics	
  to	
  continue	
  to	
  feed	
  the	
  world’s	
  cities	
  have	
  caused	
  environmental	
  alarm.	
  In	
  a	
   paper	
  by	
  Schmidhuber	
  and	
  Tubiello,	
  the	
  case	
  is	
  made	
  for	
  Urban	
  Agriculture	
  solely	
   based	
  on	
  the	
  argument	
  of	
  its	
  necessity	
  for	
  diverting	
  the	
  planet	
  off	
  the	
  path	
  towards	
   catastrophic	
  climate	
  change	
  (2009).	
  	
   The	
  concept	
  of	
  ‘food-­‐miles’	
  incorporates	
  these	
  transportation	
  distances	
  as	
  a	
   valuable	
  piece	
  of	
  information	
  that	
  can	
  be	
  attached	
  to	
  every	
  item	
  of	
  food,	
  and	
  ideally	
   visible	
  on	
  a	
  label.	
  This	
  ‘eco-­‐labeling’	
  could	
  not	
  only	
  provide	
  consumers	
  with	
  the	
   useful	
  information	
  of	
  how	
  far	
  their	
  food	
  has	
  traveled,	
  but	
  also	
  serve	
  as	
  an	
   opportunity	
  to	
  educate	
  the	
  public	
  to	
  look	
  for	
  and	
  consider	
  these	
  issues	
  (Alistair,	
   2005).	
  As	
  Feenstra	
  states	
  in	
  her	
  article	
  ‘Local	
  food	
  systems	
  and	
  sustainable	
   communities’,	
  “not	
  only	
  does	
  an	
  adequate,	
  varied	
  diet	
  contribute	
  to	
  individual	
   health,	
  but	
  the	
  way	
  food	
  is	
  grown,	
  distributed	
  and	
  eaten	
  also	
  profoundly	
  impacts	
  the	
   environmental,	
  social,	
  spiritual	
  and	
  economic	
  well-­‐being	
  of	
  the	
  community.	
  In	
  many	
   places,	
  a	
  logical	
  and	
  appropriate	
  way	
  to	
  revitalize	
  a	
  community	
  is	
  by	
  the	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  	
   4	
   development	
  of	
  a	
  local	
  food	
  economy”	
  (1997).	
  When	
  considering	
  the	
  economics	
  of	
   urban	
  food	
  systems,	
  BC	
  residents	
  spend	
  an	
  average	
  of	
  $6,800	
  per	
  household	
  a	
  year	
   on	
  food	
  (Hohenschau,	
  2005).	
  This	
  is	
  money	
  spent	
  that	
  in	
  a	
  healthy	
  food	
  system	
  with	
   local	
  production	
  could	
  stay	
  within	
  the	
  local	
  economy	
  and	
  help	
  support	
  the	
  local	
   agricultural	
  industry,	
  which	
  would	
  allow	
  them	
  to	
  provide	
  not	
  only	
  more	
  local,	
  but	
   more	
  nutritious	
  food	
  for	
  a	
  better	
  price.	
  There	
  is	
  also	
  much	
  discussion	
  around	
  the	
   social	
  problems	
  that	
  have	
  surrounded	
  urban	
  food	
  systems	
  and	
  how	
  people	
  belong	
   within	
  them;	
  people’s	
  emotional	
  separation	
  from	
  and	
  unfamiliarity	
  with	
  their	
  food	
   and	
  those	
  that	
  produce	
  it.	
  These	
  markets	
  have	
  also	
  have	
  also	
  seen	
  solutions	
  arise	
   from	
  urban	
  agriculture	
  such	
  as	
  community	
  gardening,	
  farmer’s	
  markets	
  and	
  food	
   festivals	
  (Hohenschau,	
  2005).	
   	
    Many	
  of	
  these	
  problems	
  of	
  our	
  city’s	
  food	
  systems	
  outlined	
  above	
  can	
  be	
    resolved	
  through	
  urban	
  agriculture.	
  Although	
  issues	
  such	
  as	
  the	
  detrimental	
   economic	
  and	
  social	
  implications	
  that	
  stem	
  from	
  the	
  current	
  systems	
  and	
  possible	
   improvements	
  that	
  can	
  be	
  made	
  in	
  these	
  areas	
  will	
  be	
  considered,	
  the	
  emphasis	
  of	
   this	
  paper	
  will	
  primarily	
  be	
  on	
  the	
  present	
  environmental	
  and	
  ecological	
  problems	
   involved	
  in	
  food	
  systems	
  and	
  the	
  solutions	
  that	
  urban	
  agriculture	
  offer.	
  	
  	
   	
    Urban	
  Agriculture	
  in	
  New	
  Westminister	
   This	
  research	
  project	
  was	
  undertaken	
  in	
  partnership	
  with	
  the	
  New	
   Westminster	
  Community	
  Garden	
  society,	
  and	
  hence,	
  the	
  case	
  study	
  of	
  the	
  city	
  of	
   New	
  Westminster	
  will	
  be	
  the	
  context	
  upon	
  which	
  these	
  issues	
  of	
  urban	
  agriculture	
   are	
  discussed.	
  New	
  Westminster	
  is	
  an	
  urban	
  area	
  on	
  the	
  outskirts	
  of	
  the	
  Greater	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  	
   5	
   Vancouver	
  Area.	
  About	
  29	
  kilometers	
  from	
  downtown	
  Vancouver,	
  New	
   Westminster	
  offers	
  a	
  less	
  dense	
  residential	
  experience	
  with	
  a	
  total	
  population	
  of	
   66,000	
  people	
  living	
  in	
  the	
  15.3	
  square	
  kilometer	
  city	
  zone.	
  The	
  citizen	
  population	
   consists	
  of	
  a	
  predominant	
  majority	
  of	
  middle-­‐aged,	
  English-­‐speaking	
  citizens	
  of	
   Anglo	
  decent	
  (Stats	
  Canada,	
  2007).	
  Urban	
  Agriculture	
  in	
  New	
  Westminster	
  is	
  in	
  the	
   very	
  early	
  stages	
  of	
  development,	
  as	
  there	
  does	
  not	
  seem	
  to	
  be	
  any	
  significant	
   production	
  of	
  food	
  outside	
  of	
  the	
  gardens	
  of	
  the	
  New	
  West	
  Community	
  Garden	
   Society.	
  	
   	
   Consumption	
   	
    To	
  investigate	
  the	
  food	
  sufficiency	
  rate	
  of	
  the	
  city	
  of	
  New	
  Westminster,	
  first	
    the	
  rate	
  of	
  consumption	
  must	
  be	
  examined.	
  Investigating	
  other	
  food	
  sufficiency	
  rate	
   case	
  studies,	
  the	
  figure	
  for	
  a	
  city’s	
  rate	
  of	
  consumption	
  is	
  most	
  easily	
  calculated	
   through	
  its	
  population	
  size	
  and	
  consumption	
  averages.	
  For	
  the	
  sake	
  of	
  simplicity	
  for	
   this	
  research	
  project,	
  although	
  the	
  processes	
  of	
  meat	
  and	
  other	
  foods	
  are	
  important	
   pieces	
  of	
  urban	
  food	
  systems	
  that	
  should	
  be	
  considered,	
  a	
  purely	
  vegetarian	
  diet	
  will	
   be	
  examined	
  for	
  both	
  food	
  production	
  and	
  consumption.	
  	
   In	
  his	
  Master	
  thesis,	
  Lam	
  also	
  examines	
  these	
  consumption	
  and	
  production	
   rates	
  and	
  calculates	
  some	
  figures	
  to	
  examine	
  the	
  food	
  sufficiency	
  of	
  Kingston,	
  ON	
   (2007).	
  	
  So	
  for	
  New	
  Westminster,	
  based	
  on	
  the	
  figure	
  of	
  a	
  66,000-­‐person	
  population	
   size,	
  and	
  taking	
  the	
  average	
  of	
  87.16	
  Kg	
  of	
  vegetables	
  consumed	
  annually	
  retrieved	
   from	
  a	
  2009	
  Vancouver	
  Food	
  Policy	
  Council	
  report,	
  the	
  annual	
  consumption	
  rate	
  is	
   approximately	
  5,752,500	
  Kg.	
  This	
  will	
  be	
  the	
  figure	
  used	
  for	
  analyzing	
  New	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  	
   6	
   Westminster’s	
  food	
  sufficiency	
  rate,	
  however	
  there	
  is	
  also	
  a	
  very	
  large	
  amount	
   (some	
  claim	
  close	
  to	
  50%)	
  of	
  food	
  that	
  is	
  wasted	
  before	
  and	
  after	
  consumption,	
  for	
   example	
  food	
  spoiling	
  before	
  it	
  is	
  sold,	
  leftover	
  food	
  being	
  disposed	
  of,	
  and	
   inefficient	
  food	
  preparation	
  processes.	
  This	
  is	
  to	
  say	
  that	
  the	
  juggernaut	
  that	
  is	
  the	
   figure	
  for	
  New	
  Westminster’s	
  consumption	
  rate	
  is	
  actually	
  on	
  the	
  minimal-­‐side	
  of	
   estimating	
  the	
  city’s	
  consumption	
  (Vancouver	
  Food	
  Policy	
  Council,	
  2009).	
   	
   Current	
  Production	
   As	
  mentioned	
  earlier,	
  the	
  only	
  known	
  food	
  production	
  that	
  is	
  taking	
  place	
   within	
  New	
  Westminster	
  is	
  in	
  the	
  New	
  West	
  Community	
  Gardens.	
  This	
  is	
  not	
  to	
  say	
   that	
  outside	
  production	
  is	
  non-­‐existent,	
  rather	
  that	
  it	
  is	
  safe	
  to	
  assume	
  that	
  it	
  is	
   comparatively	
  insignificant.	
  This	
  makes	
  the	
  work	
  of	
  measuring	
  the	
  city’s	
  food	
   production	
  rates	
  much	
  less	
  menacing,	
  however	
  even	
  early	
  rough	
  estimations	
  would	
   see	
  that	
  the	
  production	
  rate	
  only	
  amounts	
  to	
  a	
  very	
  small	
  fraction	
  of	
  the	
  city’s	
   comparative	
  gargantuan	
  consumption.	
  After	
  estimations,	
  this	
  fact	
  is	
  still	
  true.	
   As	
  it	
  currently	
  stands,	
  there	
  are	
  three	
  community	
  gardens	
  in	
  New	
   Westminster	
  that	
  the	
  Society	
  operates.	
  The	
  first	
  and	
  main	
  garden	
  is	
  on	
  the	
  grounds	
   of	
  Saint	
  Mary’s	
  Anglican	
  Church	
  in	
  Sapperton,	
  the	
  second	
  is	
  about	
  half	
  the	
  size	
  in	
  the	
   yard	
  of	
  another	
  church	
  in	
  Marymount,	
  and	
  the	
  other	
  is	
  at	
  Simcoe	
  Park	
  on	
  Brow	
  of	
   the	
  Hill	
  behind	
  an	
  Elementary	
  school.	
  The	
  Saint	
  Mary’s	
  site	
  is	
  considered	
  the	
  ‘main’	
   site	
  because	
  it	
  was	
  the	
  first	
  garden	
  and	
  is	
  where	
  the	
  Gardening	
  Society	
  officers	
  have	
   their	
  plots,	
  while	
  the	
  Simcoe	
  Park	
  site	
  has	
  the	
  most	
  participation	
  out	
  of	
  the	
  three	
   gardens	
  (Anstey,	
  2012).	
  Members	
  from	
  the	
  society	
  have	
  alluded	
  to	
  this	
  more	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  	
   7	
   extensive	
  participation	
  based	
  on	
  the	
  park	
  that	
  holds	
  the	
  garden,	
  the	
  proximity	
  of	
  the	
   school	
  and	
  its	
  involvement,	
  and	
  the	
  larger	
  and	
  more	
  spacious	
  size	
  allowing	
  for	
  more	
   members	
  to	
  garden.	
  	
  	
   In	
  all,	
  the	
  three	
  gardens	
  equal	
  an	
  approximate	
  total	
  area	
  of	
  500	
  square	
   meters.	
  For	
  garden	
  plots	
  such	
  as	
  community	
  gardens,	
  the	
  Food	
  Secure	
  Vancouver	
   baseline	
  report	
  lists	
  an	
  average	
  output	
  of	
  1.77Kg	
  per	
  square	
  meter	
  (Vancouver	
  Food	
   Policy	
  Council,	
  2009).	
  Using	
  this	
  average	
  output	
  number	
  to	
  calculate	
  the	
  annual	
   production	
  of	
  the	
  gardens,	
  500m	
  of	
  plot	
  space	
  at	
  1.77Kg	
  a	
  square	
  meter	
  comes	
  to	
   885Kg	
  of	
  vegetables	
  a	
  year.	
  As	
  these	
  gardens	
  act	
  as	
  the	
  only	
  significant	
  source	
  of	
   urban	
  agriculture	
  in	
  New	
  Westminster,	
  885Kg	
  of	
  vegetables	
  a	
  year	
  is	
  what	
  this	
   project	
  will	
  use	
  as	
  its	
  current	
  food	
  production	
  rate.	
  This	
  production	
  then	
  accounts	
   for	
  0.000154%	
  of	
  the	
  food	
  consumption	
  in	
  New	
  Westminster,	
  a	
  food	
  sufficiency	
  rate	
   that	
  has	
  plenty	
  of	
  room	
  for	
  improvement.	
   The	
  next	
  step	
  of	
  this	
  research	
  is	
  to	
  examine	
  how	
  much	
  more	
  food	
  New	
   Westminster	
  could	
  possibly	
  be	
  producing.	
  In	
  order	
  to	
  do	
  this,	
  two	
  scenarios	
  will	
  be	
   provided,	
  one	
  detailing	
  medial	
  improvements	
  to	
  the	
  society	
  that	
  are	
  either	
  planned	
   for	
  the	
  near	
  future	
  or	
  easily	
  possible,	
  and	
  another	
  estimating	
  the	
  potential	
  food	
   production	
  approaching	
  ideal	
  conditions.	
  	
   	
   Potential	
  Production:	
  Scenario	
  1	
  –	
  Minor	
  Improvement	
   	
    The	
  first	
  scenario	
  investigates	
  what	
  the	
  production	
  rate	
  of	
  the	
  gardens	
  would	
    be	
  with	
  the	
  improvements	
  and	
  expansions	
  that	
  are	
  already	
  planned.	
  The	
  main	
  site	
   at	
  the	
  Saint	
  Mary’s	
  Anglican	
  Church	
  has	
  a	
  planned	
  expansion	
  to	
  almost	
  double	
  it.	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  	
   8	
   The	
  plan	
  is	
  to	
  lay	
  down	
  more	
  layers	
  of	
  mulch	
  on	
  the	
  grass	
  surrounding	
  the	
  current	
   plots,	
  and	
  create	
  a	
  few	
  more	
  descending	
  levels	
  of	
  plots.	
  This	
  expansion	
  will	
  be	
   approximately	
  250	
  additional	
  square	
  meters.	
   	
    An	
  additional	
  250	
  square	
  meters	
  of	
  plots	
  to	
  the	
  main	
  site	
  would	
  make	
  it	
  the	
    largest	
  site	
  of	
  the	
  three	
  gardens	
  and	
  allow	
  for	
  a	
  significant	
  addition	
  of	
  members,	
  also	
   easily	
  making	
  it	
  the	
  site	
  with	
  the	
  most	
  participation.	
  Following	
  in	
  the	
  footsteps	
  of	
   the	
  Simcoe	
  site	
  –	
  the	
  current	
  largest	
  garden	
  with	
  the	
  most	
  unified	
  community	
  –	
  the	
   main	
  site	
  at	
  Saint	
  Mary’s	
  is	
  attempting	
  to	
  bring	
  more	
  members	
  together	
  in	
  the	
   garden	
  and	
  cultivate	
  a	
  more	
  communal	
  feeling.	
  This	
  sense	
  of	
  unity	
  actually	
  benefits	
   the	
  gardening	
  efficiency	
  as	
  well;	
  when	
  members	
  are	
  giving	
  each	
  other	
  tips	
  and	
   helping	
  each	
  other	
  garden,	
  this	
  mutually	
  raises	
  the	
  output	
  of	
  the	
  garden	
  plots	
   (Deelstra	
  and	
  Giradet,	
  2000).	
  The	
  calculations	
  for	
  this	
  output	
  of	
  the	
  new	
  garden	
   space	
  plus	
  possibilities	
  for	
  increased	
  efficiency	
  turn	
  the	
  potential	
  food	
  production	
   figure	
  towards	
  an	
  approximate	
  1400kg	
  a	
  year	
  or	
  more.	
  	
   	
  Other	
  improvements	
  such	
  as	
  adding	
  more	
  signage	
  and	
  visibly	
  identifying	
  the	
   community	
  gardens	
  for	
  the	
  public	
  would	
  add	
  more	
  interest,	
  participation,	
  and	
   cohesion	
  to	
  each	
  setting.	
  This	
  signage	
  could	
  also	
  include	
  contact	
  information	
  or	
   ways	
  to	
  get	
  more	
  details	
  on	
  that	
  garden,	
  on	
  the	
  New	
  Westminster	
  Community	
   Garden	
  Society,	
  and	
  ideally	
  on	
  urban	
  agriculture	
  in	
  general.	
  	
   	
   Potential	
  Production:	
  Scenario	
  2	
  –	
  Major	
  Improvements	
   	
    Calculating	
  the	
  truly	
  viable	
  potential	
  amount	
  of	
  food	
  that	
  New	
  Westminster	
    could	
  produce	
  is	
  a	
  dubious	
  task.	
  The	
  most	
  challenging	
  aspect	
  of	
  this	
  process	
  is	
  in	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  	
   9	
   choosing	
  a	
  definition	
  of	
  what	
  is	
  considered	
  ‘feasible’.	
  A	
  list	
  of	
  major	
  improvements	
   could	
  be	
  made	
  that	
  are	
  more	
  obvious,	
  such	
  as	
  expansions	
  in	
  the	
  same	
  vain	
  as	
  the	
   minor	
  improvements	
  foreseen	
  above.	
  This	
  could	
  also	
  include	
  the	
  addition	
  of	
  more	
   sites,	
  perhaps	
  attached	
  to	
  other	
  schools,	
  churches,	
  or	
  even	
  government	
  buildings.	
   This	
  expansion	
  would	
  obviously	
  add	
  much	
  more	
  membership,	
  which	
  could	
  create	
  a	
   slight	
  critical	
  mass	
  in	
  the	
  organization.	
  With	
  the	
  addition	
  or	
  more	
  volunteers	
  would	
   come	
  more	
  dedication	
  to	
  the	
  community	
  and	
  perhaps	
  a	
  few	
  more	
  committed	
   volunteers.	
  With	
  the	
  addition	
  of	
  more	
  sites	
  and	
  space	
  could	
  possibly	
  come	
  some	
   communal	
  areas	
  such	
  as	
  an	
  office	
  where	
  members	
  could	
  gather	
  and	
  the	
  public	
  to	
   gain	
  more	
  information	
  or	
  speak	
  with	
  a	
  member	
  of	
  the	
  society.	
  This	
  space	
  would	
   hopefully	
  feature	
  toilet	
  facilities	
  (as	
  of	
  current,	
  the	
  ‘main’	
  site	
  has	
  no	
  bathrooms,	
  and	
   thus	
  limits	
  member’s	
  ability	
  to	
  stay	
  lengthy	
  times)	
  and	
  could	
  potentially	
  have	
  a	
   communal	
  kitchen	
  for	
  members	
  to	
  be	
  able	
  to	
  also	
  gather	
  and	
  share	
  their	
  food	
   consumption	
  experience.	
  	
   	
    These	
  outlines	
  for	
  more	
  major	
  improvements	
  are	
  what	
  can	
  be	
  possible	
  for	
    the	
  New	
  West	
  Community	
  Garden	
  Society,	
  a	
  group	
  such	
  as	
  a	
  small	
  volunteer	
   organization	
  that	
  still	
  carries	
  some	
  influence	
  in	
  its	
  city	
  as	
  the	
  only	
  producers	
  of	
  local	
   agriculture.	
  The	
  additions	
  of	
  an	
  arbitrary	
  hypothetical	
  three	
  more	
  sites	
  to	
  double	
   the	
  space	
  of	
  the	
  Society’s	
  gardens	
  would	
  put	
  the	
  total	
  area	
  around	
  1500	
  square	
   meters,	
  making	
  a	
  total	
  annual	
  output	
  of	
  approximately	
  2700Kg	
  or	
  more	
  a	
  year.	
   Regarding	
  the	
  near	
  future,	
  this	
  is	
  about	
  the	
  extent	
  of	
  which	
  the	
  Society’s	
  goals	
  could	
   be,	
  which	
  is	
  both	
  reasonable	
  and	
  plausible	
  for	
  the	
  community.	
  There	
  is,	
  however,	
   still	
  more	
  potential	
  for	
  the	
  concept	
  of	
  urban	
  agriculture	
  in	
  New	
  Westminster.	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  10	
   	
   	
    Returning	
  to	
  the	
  paradigm	
  introduced	
  earlier,	
  finding	
  the	
  true	
  potential	
    production	
  rate	
  of	
  urban	
  agriculture	
  within	
  the	
  city	
  of	
  New	
  Westminster	
  is	
  largely	
   based	
  upon	
  the	
  definition	
  of	
  feasibility	
  that	
  is	
  utilized.	
  Many	
  studies	
  published	
  that	
   examine	
  the	
  food	
  production	
  potentials	
  of	
  cities	
  look	
  at	
  great	
  lengths	
  as	
  to	
  where	
   opportunities	
  lay.	
  Total	
  area	
  of	
  vacant	
  flat	
  rooftop	
  space	
  for	
  rooftop	
  gardens,	
  total	
   area	
  of	
  citizen	
  backyards	
  for	
  home	
  plots,	
  total	
  amount	
  of	
  brownfields	
  in	
  a	
  town	
  that	
   can	
  be	
  reclaimed	
  as	
  a	
  site	
  for	
  urban	
  agriculture,	
  the	
  total	
  vertical	
  surface	
  area	
  of	
   buildings	
  with	
  direct	
  sunlight	
  for	
  window	
  farming,	
  even	
  the	
  total	
  number	
  of	
   basements	
  in	
  a	
  county	
  that	
  can	
  potentially	
  house	
  hydroponic	
  systems;	
  each	
  could	
  be	
   considered	
  in	
  the	
  slippery	
  slope	
  of	
  attempting	
  to	
  concretely	
  claim	
  what	
  is	
  feasible	
   (Hohenschau,	
  2005)	
  (Lam,	
  2007).	
  	
   	
    Conclusions:	
  Challenges	
  and	
  Suggestions	
   The	
  quality	
  in	
  question	
  should	
  not	
  be	
  of	
  food	
  production’s	
  feasibility,	
  but	
  of	
   its	
  possibility.	
  In	
  truth,	
  all	
  of	
  these	
  goals	
  of	
  urban	
  agriculture	
  are	
  possible,	
  but	
  not	
   without	
  obstacles	
  and	
  challenges	
  to	
  first	
  be	
  overcome.	
  In	
  the	
  case	
  of	
  the	
  New	
   Westminster	
  Community	
  Gardens	
  Society,	
  many	
  of	
  the	
  challenges	
  are	
  based	
  upon	
   the	
  fact	
  that	
  it	
  is	
  a	
  completely	
  volunteer	
  run	
  organization	
  that	
  has	
  very	
  little	
  to	
   virtually	
  no	
  funding	
  and	
  relies	
  on	
  donated	
  space	
  for	
  their	
  sites.	
  Some	
  of	
  the	
  minor	
   improvements	
  outlined	
  in	
  the	
  first	
  potential	
  production	
  scenario	
  are	
  small	
  solutions	
   to	
  these	
  answers.	
  More	
  signage	
  identifying	
  the	
  sites	
  to	
  the	
  public	
  and	
  offering	
  more	
   information	
  about	
  the	
  Society	
  to	
  those	
  seeking	
  it	
  would	
  be	
  helpful	
  in	
  overcoming	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  11	
   	
   some	
  of	
  these	
  obstacles	
  facing	
  the	
  community	
  gardens	
  and	
  stopping	
  them	
  from	
   reaching	
  higher	
  prospective	
  production	
  rates	
  (Anstey,	
  2012).	
  	
   More	
  extensive	
  solutions	
  to	
  the	
  general	
  problems	
  facing	
  urban	
  agriculture	
   have	
  been	
  proposed	
  by	
  many	
  people,	
  much	
  of	
  which	
  overlap	
  with	
  the	
  same	
  of	
  those	
   in	
  New	
  Westminster.	
  One	
  example	
  of	
  an	
  interesting	
  proposed	
  solution	
  to	
  many	
  of	
   the	
  problems	
  of	
  community	
  gardens	
  is	
  the	
  suggestion	
  of	
  implementing	
  larger	
   umbrella	
  organizations	
  to	
  oversee	
  and	
  lend	
  assistance	
  to	
  smaller	
  community	
  garden	
   satellites	
  (Chisholm,	
  2008).	
  For	
  example,	
  a	
  larger	
  organization	
  such	
  as	
  this	
  could	
  aid	
   the	
  New	
  Westminster	
  Community	
  Garden	
  Society	
  with	
  providing	
  support	
  for	
   logistics,	
  offering	
  advice	
  for	
  gardening	
  efficiency,	
  and	
  connecting	
  the	
  smaller	
   community	
  to	
  the	
  larger	
  urban	
  food	
  system.	
  In	
  a	
  2006	
  article,	
  Jacobson	
  points	
  to	
   farmer’s	
  markets	
  as	
  having	
  an	
  immense	
  potential	
  for	
  connecting	
  the	
  larger	
  public’s	
   food	
  consumption	
  to	
  their	
  source	
  of	
  production	
  and	
  get	
  people	
  aware	
  of	
  and	
   thinking	
  about	
  their	
  local	
  food	
  systems.	
  	
   There	
  is	
  also	
  a	
  heavy	
  portion	
  of	
  research	
  on	
  urban	
  agriculture	
  that	
  claims	
   urban	
  planners	
  should	
  consider	
  the	
  food	
  systems	
  of	
  a	
  space	
  and	
  plan	
  these	
  farmer’s	
   markets	
  and	
  community	
  gardens	
  into	
  cities	
  (Hohenschau,	
  2005)	
  (Vancouver	
  Food	
   Policy	
  Council,	
  2009).	
  Deelsta	
  and	
  Giradet	
  are	
  also	
  adamant	
  about	
  this	
  planning	
   process	
  as	
  being	
  crucial,	
  as	
  a	
  well-­‐planned	
  food	
  system	
  that	
  facilitates	
  the	
  public’s	
   closeness	
  to	
  their	
  food	
  will	
  also	
  bring	
  people	
  closer	
  to	
  nature	
  (2000).	
  In	
  Roehr	
  and	
   Kunigk’s	
  2009	
  article	
  on	
  food	
  planning	
  for	
  Metro	
  Vancouver,	
  planning	
  was	
  sited	
  as	
   holding	
  significant	
  responsibility	
  for	
  the	
  food	
  systems,	
  however,	
  as	
  was	
  its	
   interaction	
  with	
  landscape	
  architecture.	
  The	
  proposed	
  solution	
  being,	
  instead	
  of	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  12	
   	
   consuming	
  vast	
  amounts	
  of	
  fresh	
  water	
  to	
  maintain	
  a	
  demanding	
  manicured	
  lawn	
   and	
  trimmed	
  bushes	
  that	
  produce	
  nothing,	
  cities	
  should	
  replace	
  the	
  foliage	
  around	
   residences,	
  schools,	
  and	
  businesses	
  with	
  fauna	
  that	
  actually	
  work	
  for	
  them	
  in	
  their	
   food	
  systems	
  and	
  consume	
  less	
  resources.	
  In	
  2010	
  and	
  2011	
  reports	
  from	
  the	
  Metro	
   Vancouver	
  Agricultural	
  Committee,	
  encouragement	
  for	
  more	
  social	
  engagement	
   from	
  the	
  public	
  is	
  heavily	
  emphasizes	
  and	
  suggestions	
  are	
  provided	
  to	
  implement	
  a	
   much	
  wider	
  scale	
  national	
  food	
  strategy	
  for	
  Canadians	
  and	
  their	
  food	
  systems.	
  In	
  the	
   aptly	
  titled	
  article	
  ‘One	
  thousand	
  friends	
  of	
  food’,	
  Morris	
  speaks	
  of	
  just	
  this,	
  and	
  the	
   power	
  that	
  social	
  networks	
  wield	
  in	
  mobilizing	
  revolutions.	
  For	
  that	
  is	
  what	
  this	
  –	
   recently	
  surpassing	
  51%	
  urban	
  and	
  even	
  more	
  recently	
  surpassing	
  a	
  population	
  of	
  7	
   billion	
  –	
  world	
  is	
  desperate	
  for,	
  nothing	
  short	
  of	
  a	
  revolution	
  to	
  fix	
  this	
  broken	
   system.	
  This	
  is	
  what	
  is	
  imperative	
  for	
  our	
  civilization’s	
  survival	
  and	
  we	
  only	
  have	
   one	
  chance	
  at	
  getting	
  it	
  correct;	
  and	
  New	
  Westminster	
  is	
  exactly	
  what	
  it	
  looks	
  like	
  at	
   the	
  microcosmic	
  level.	
   	
   	
    	
    Yarbrough	
  	
  13	
   	
   References: Alastair, I. (2005). Learning in sustainable agriculture: Food miles and missing objects. Environmental Values, 14(2), 163-183. Retrieved from http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/whp/ev/2005/00000014/00000002/art000 02 Anstay, B. (2012, Feb 25). Interview by G. S. Yarbrough Broadway, M. J. and Broadway, J. M. (2011), Green Dreams: Promoting Urban Agriculture and the Availability of Locally Produced Food in the Vancouver Metropolitan Area. Focus on Geography, 54: 33–41. doi: 10.1111/j.19498535.2010.00023.x Statistics Canada. Community Highlights for New Westminster. 2007. Web. http://www.statcan.ca/start.html/. Chisholm, A. (2008). Growing bridges: Community gardens and civic governments. (Master's thesis, Royal Roads University) Retrieved from cityfarmer.org Deelstra, T., & Girardet, H. (2000). Urban agriculture and sustainable cities. Manuscript submitted for publication, Penn State University, Retrieved from psu.edu Feenstra, G. (1997). Local food systems and sustainable communities. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, 12 , pp 28-36 doi:10.1017/S0889189300007165 Havaligi, N. (2011). Contribution of urban agriculture to food security, biodiversity conservation and reducing agricultural carbon footprint . Climate Change Management, (1), 99-112. Retrieved from http://www.springerlink.com/content/g5nhv37rq0460221/ Hohenschau, D. L. (2005). Community food security and the landscape of cities. (Master's thesis, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2429/16818. Iverson, M. A. (2010). Assessing urban brownfields for community gardens in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Master's thesis, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2429/27784. Jacobsen, C. (2006). Planning for farmers markets and sustainable food systems. (Master's thesis, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) Retrieved from gw.city.vancouver.bc.ca Lam, S. O. (2007). Urban agriculture in Kingston: Present and future potential for relocalization and sustainability. (Master's thesis, Queen's University, Canada) Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1974/675  Yarbrough	
  	
  14	
   	
    Mador, R., & Jayatilaka, D. Provincial Health Services Authority, (2011). Promoting healthy eating and sustainable local food in bc. Retrieved from website: bcfoodsecuritygateway.ca Mendes, W. City of Vancouver, Food Policy, Social Planning Department. (2004). Creating a Just and Sustainable Food System for the City of Vancouver. Metro Vancouver, Agriculture Committee. (2010). Agenda Retrieved from http://www.metrovancouver.org. Metro Vancouver, Agriculture Committee. (2011). Agenda Retrieved from http://www.metrovancouver.org. Morris, D. H. (2009). One thousand friends of food: Strategies for the implementation of local food policy in new york city. (Master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/50108 Roehr, D., & Kunigk, I. (2009). Metro Vancouver: Designing for urban food production. Berkeyly Planning Journal, 22, 60-70. Retrieved from ced.berkeley.edu. Schmidhuber, J., & Tubiello, F. (2007). Global food security under climate change. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences of the United States of America, 104(50), Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25450779 Vancouver Food Policy Council, Serecon Consulting. (2009). Food Secure Vancouver Baseline Report. Vancouver: Serecon Management Consulting. 	
   	
   	
   	
    	
    

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