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Growing vegetables in Metro Vancouver : an urban farming census Schutzbank, Marc Howard

Abstract

Increasing food insecurity, lack of sustainable food systems, and a desire to participate in the food system are prompting the growth of various forms of urban agriculture: community gardens, urban homesteads, and urban farms. Urban farms, as distinct from other urban agriculture projects, are defined by the sale of their product. They raise produce and grow ornamentals to sell in neighbourhoods, all while building urban food networks that connect communities to their food. Resilient localized food production systems must be economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable to succeed in a changing environment. Research on urban agriculture has largely focused on community gardens and their social benefits, leaving little known about entrepreneurial urban farms. This study examines the business models and economics of Metro Vancouver’s urban farms through a newly developed tool, the ‘Urban Farming Census.’ The use of this semi-structured interview tool revealed revenues, costs, financing, and sales models of urban farmers as well as their community connections and benefits. The Urban Farming Census was applied during the 2010 and 2011 growing seasons, capturing the first attempts by Vancouver’s urban farming organizations growing sustainable businesses. In 2010, eight urban farms produced $128,000 worth of produce on 2.31 acres, supporting 17 paid employees. In 2011, ten urban farms sold $170,000 worth of produce on 4.19 acres, supporting 30 paid employees. Urban farms do more than sell produce; they educate their communities about food production and provide space for individuals and communities to explore their intergenerational, multicultural food cultures. 

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported

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