Since 2016, SPEC has been partnering with small-scale farmers in Metro Vancouver to promote sustainable farming practices. The project includes raising awareness within the urban community about the issues affecting local farms and farmers.
From our work, SPEC has learned that society gains more from farmland than just food production. Farms provide wildlife and pollinator habitats, natural beauty, carbon sequestration* and fertile soil for future generations, among other services. These services are called Ecosystem Services. We believe that the best way to encourage these services is to support farmers in their role as stewards of the land, as well as engage the public to raise awareness on the topic.
If farmers have access to the most recent, scientific information as well as financial incentives for making sustainable choices, everyone benefits, including the majority of us who are not farmers.
Conduct and analyze soil tests for farmers, helping them manage their soil fertility in the long term
Organize a yearly farmers’ symposium which brings together small-scale farmers from throughout Metro Vancouver
Work with farm partners to create on-farm pollinator habitats
Create winter cover crop seed mixes and distribute them to local farmers (at no cost to the farmer) as a way to encourage cover cropping
Provide farmers with information on locally available composts in terms of nutrient composition and cost, to help farmers choose the right soil amendments
Provide a pest and disease identification service for farmers
Collaborate with Young Agrarians to create resources that help farmers manage their irrigation and drainage
Launch a public outreach campaign on ecosystem services on farmland through social media, community events, and school educational programming.
Ecosystem Services are the benefits we as a society gain from natural and agricultural areas. One example of an Ecosystem Service on farmland is soil fertility, which refers to the ability of soil to sustain plant growth. Soil fertility is an important benefit to future generations and requires that soil is managed properly. By providing soil test interpretations and a guide to local composts, SPEC is helping farmers to make sustainable choices for their farms and ensure soil fertility in the future. This is just one way this project aims to help farmers make good choices on their farms that enhance Ecosystem Services.
A big thank you to our funders and partners:
Vancouver Urban Farming Society
UBC Centre for Sustainable Food Systems
University of British Columbia
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Canadian Agricultural Partnership
Ministry of Agriculture
Langley Sustainable Agriculture Foundation
Langley Small Farm Network
Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust
*Carbon sequestration is the process involved in carbon capture and the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)