There are many problems in today’s world, and two of the most pressing are climate change and species extinctions. It is easy to lose hope; when unable to imagine a happy healthy future, many of us throw our hands in the air. At SPEC however, we work with a group of people who instead throw their hands into the soil, working hard to produce food for local people.
These small-scale farmers are the unsung heroes of our time. Because their farms are small and they generally do not own the land, they fall between the cracks of many programs intended to help farmers. There is a huge opportunity for the expansion of small-scale farming in Metro Vancouver, with three quarters of parcels smaller than five acres currently not farmed and therefore idle.
Not only are these small-scale farmers producing valuable food, but their farms often improve the soil quality, which means that the land can produce food for generations to come. Many of these farmers also care about the impact their farms have on local and global ecosystems and adopt sustainable farm practices, such as cover cropping, planting a diversity of crops, and adding compost to the soil.
But food production is not the only thing small scale farmers do. The new buzz word is Ecosystem Services, also known as Nature’s Contributions to People. By adding value to our lives, such as the inspiration you get from a bike ride through the countryside, and more concrete things like regulating floods and supporting wild pollinator populations, these Ecosystem Services are very valuable to all members of society, whether or not you are a farmer. 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.