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Food and Agriculture Institute

Innovative Crops

Innovative crops: Diversifying production on agricultural lands in Southwestern British Columbia

Lead researchers: Dr. Lisa Powell and Dr. Renee Prasad
Team members/partners: Dr. Lenore Newman and Dr. Garry Fehr
Funder: Real Estate Foundation of 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.

One way to address vulnerabilities caused by the loss of diversity in production is to re-introduce diversity in the form of innovative crops. We define innovative crops as either new to the region, or recently introduced, re-introduced, or being grown under new conditions, with the potential to meet a need or demand for local supply. One example is ethnocultural vegetables, which are food crops not traditionally grown in Canada or introduced by European settlers and which meet the needs of more recent immigrants and interest among the general public for cooking recipes from cuisines with origins worldwide. Particularly underexplored in B.C. are ethnocultural vegetables used in the cuisines of immigrants of South Asian, Filipino and Persian descent. Another area of innovative production is crops that have been unsuited to Southwestern B.C. due to the area’s climate. While climate change will disrupt agriculture, it may enable the production of crops previously unable to survive here. Other innovative crops are those currently in limited production but which may have the potential for more.

This project investigated the potential for economically viable production of innovative crops in Southwestern B.C. and develops extension resources based on the research.

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