UBC Undergraduate Research

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


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. 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.”

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