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Food and Agriculture Institute

Agricultural Land Use

What is the future of agricultural land-use in British Columbia?

Agricultural land in British Columbia is protected through the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), and FAI has conducted extensive research on the evolution of the ALR and efficacy of land-use regulations in the province. Building on this work, FAI plans to conduct research that (1) examines successes and challenges of the regional agricultural land-use system around the Lower Mainland, (2) compares these with successes/challenges of regional agriculture in other places in the country and across the world, and (3) explores new (and potentially effective) land-use planning and policy approaches for these case studies. FAI also aims to explore the implementation of ‘agricultural-industrial zones’ in British Columbia, where food is grown through methods such as indoor, and it will examine the potential these zones have for contributing to sustainable food and farm systems.




Bertrand Creek Watershed Group Environmental Farm Plan
The Bertrand Creek Watershed is the largest of the major tributaries entering the Lower Nooksack River and is a critical habitat for fish and wildlife while falling mostly in the BC Agriculture Land Reserve. Recent water sampling done by the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy identified high levels of fecal coliforms and E. coli. In collaboration with the Agriculture Research and Development Corporation (ARDCorp) who runs the Group Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) program that assists farmers in assessing environmental risks and threats associated with their operations, the FAI delivered a report to address water quality issues in Bertrand Creek. The report examines watershed management strategies, summarized engagement activities with farmers and landowners within the watershed, and delivered a set of recommendations for the next steps to serve as a basis for a Group EFP program.



Farming for the future: Maximizing the return on investment of agricultural land preservation
The Lower Mainland's agricultural lands support an industry producing 1.2 billion dollars worth of agricultural products annually. However, competition from other land uses continues to put pressure on the Agricultural Land Reserve. This project studied the utilization of agricultural lands in the Lower Mainland with a focus on maximizing the return on our investment in farmland preservation.



Innovative crops: Diversifying production on agricultural lands in Southwestern British Columbia
While crop production in Southwestern B.C. is diverse compared to other areas of North America, it is still concentrated on a small number of crops. The economic viability of growing some staple vegetables has declined in recent years, resulting in even fewer acres of these crops, and transition to more planted in potatoes and blueberries. These shifts further challenge the economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture and the food security of the region.



Understanding agriburbia: Conflict and innovation on the rural/urban fringe
As cities expand, competition for space creates extremely complex landscapes of interwoven and conflicting uses. There is increased interest in land use regimes in order to preserve agricultural capacity and protect farmland. The resulting agriburban zones, defined as suburban forms in which agriculture plays a significant role, are important for food production, affordable housing, and settlement regions for migrant farmers. The impact of the spread of agriburban regions is poorly understood.





Harris, G., Nixon, D., Newman, L., & Mullinix, K. (2016). Delineating the Southwest British Columbia bioregion for food system design and planning: A practical approach. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 6(4), 71-86.

Newman, L., Powell, L., Nickel, J., Anderson, D., Jovanovic, L., Mendez, E., Mitchell, B., & Kelly-Freiberg, K. (2017). Farm stores in agriburbia: The role of agricultural retail on the rural-urban fringe. Canadian Food Studies, 4(1), 4-23.

Nixon, D., & Newman, L. (2016). The efficacy and politics of farmland preservation through land use regulation: Changes in Southwest British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve. Land Use Policy, 59, 227-240.

Newman, L., Powell, L., & Wittman, H. (2015). Landscapes of food production in Agriburbia: Farmland protection and local food movements in British Columbia. Journal of Rural Studies, 39, 99-110.

Newman, L., & Nixon, D. (2014). Farming in an Agriburban ecovillage development: An approach to limiting agricultural/residential conflict. SAGE Open, 4(4), 1-10.

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