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Thread: Defining community agriculture

  1. #1
    Dennis Lapierre
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Falkland, BC
    Blog Entries

    Defining community agriculture

    I'm curious. How would you define the term "community agriculture"?

  2. #2
    Duck Creek Farm

    The nature of community agriculture

    The Way Of The Family Farm
    Many of the most lively, intimate expressions of spirit spring from the joyous, continuous contact of human beings with a particular locality. They feel the age-long spirit of this valley or that hill each with its trees and rocks and special tricks of weather, as the seasons unfold in their endless charm. If life can be made secure in each community and if the rewards of the different communities are distributed justly, there will flower in every community not only those who attain joy in daily, productive work well done; but also those who paint and sing and tell stories with the flavour peculiar to their own valley, well loved hill, or broad prairie Ö Every community can become something distinctly precious in its own right. Children will not try to escape as they grow up. They will look ahead to the possibility of enriching the traditions of their ancestors.

    This is the true CULTURE of agriculture. Itís a text written by Henry Wallace (New Frontiers 1934). Itís something I discovered on Halloween 1989, the day our offer on our Salt Spring Farm property was accepted. One must know where oneís been to know where to go. As Duck Creek ran through our old pioneer homestead in Woodslee, Duck Creek spawned this Farm - a propitious beginning.

  3. #3
    Dennis Lapierre
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Falkland, BC
    Blog Entries

    The following posting was requested by Duck Creek Farm. Itr shows how elusive a definition of "family farm is". Similarly, I'd like to add, is the definition of "community agriculture". But, community agriculture, like family farm can be characterized. Look at the blog on this site, which describes the principles upon which the FARM Community Council is based, and you'll get the picture.

    The Story
    "My grandfather was the watermelon king," says Charlie Huffman, describing the history of his family's farm on the fertile soil of Essex County, Ont. Through steady expansion the Huffman farm has grown to provide a living for Charlie's son Carl and his family. In this CBC Television clip, Carl describes his efforts to preserve the farm for his children. Farming is no way to get rich, says Carl, but his goal is simpler than that: "We want to farm."

    Did you know?
    • There is no official government definition of what constitutes a family farm.
    • The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines "family farm" as "a farm that is owned and operated by a family, esp. one that has been handed down from one generation to another."
    • Canada's National Farmers Union believes the family farm is "the most appropriate and efficient means of agricultural production."

    • "Census farm" is the term used by Statistics Canada to designate an agricultural operation growing at least one of the following types of items for sale: crops, poultry, livestock, animal products or other products such as maple syrup.
    • In 1996 there were 2,109 census farms in Essex County.
    • Essex County boasts the highest concentration of greenhouses in Canada.
    • In 2001 there were over 40 different crops growing commercially in Essex County.

    • Much of the labour on farms in Essex County and other agricultural regions in Canada is now done by migrant workers from Mexico, the Barbados and Jamaica.
    • In 2005 an estimated 18,000 such labourers were in Canada, working up to 60 hours per week. Most were paid scarcely more than minimum wage, and they were prohibited from forming unions.

    • Essex County is on a peninsula located on the southwestern tip of Ontario. The county includes Point Pelee and Pelee Island, the southernmost point in Canada.
    • Due to its extraordinary flatness, varying soil types, mild climate and surrounding water, the region makes excellent farmland.
    • An aboriginal tribe called the Attiwandaronks is thought to have practised a basic form of agriculture in the region beginning around 900 AD.

    • Essex County and the area surrounding present-day Windsor and Detroit was populated by French settlers in the mid-18th century. But it wasn't until the early 19th century that great numbers of people began to farm there. Most were immigrants from Britain — the region had since passed into British hands — and some were Americans.

    • Tobacco was among the earliest crops grown in Essex County. Farmers grew it for their own use and as a cash crop which was exported to Montreal, Kingston and New Orleans.
    • Apple, peach and pear trees were planted for local domestic use, and later came to be grown commercially. Grapes were introduced as a commercial crop in the 1860s but were supplanted by tobacco when it became much more lucrative in the 1920s.

    Ontario's sweet harvest
    Medium: Television
    Program: CBC Television Special
    Broadcast Date: Jan. 23, 1977
    Guest(s): Charlie Huffman, Carl Huffman, Leslie Huffman
    Duration: 9:46
    Last updated:
    July 20, 2009

  4. #4
    New Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Salt Spring Island

    I would define "community agriculture" as a form of collaborative farming by individuals who are not blood-related, who have long-term tenure (at least a decade, preferably life) of some sort in the land.

    This definition does not include "family farms," although a family farm could progress into a community farm. Many family farms that have WWOOFers and other sorts of casual help may call themselves "community farms," but it doesn't meet my definition unless those people have some sort of long-term right to farm that land.

    Ideally, the long-term tenure is in the form of cooperative ownership, although it could be a long-term lease.

    Without long-term tenure, who is going to plant walnut trees? Who is going to "do the right thing" to avoid "mining the soil," even if it means reduced yield?

    At least, that's what we're trying to do...
    :::: Jan Steinman, EcoReality Co-op ::::

  5. #5
    Frequent contributing Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Pender Island
    Blog Entries

    The community agriculture sector includes small lot farms, mixed farms, niche market farms and organic farms. These farms do not fit into a definition by main product, such as a dairy farm, poultry farm, etc. and are generally of a smaller scale than the commodity sectors. The farms of community agriculture are mostly privately owned and mostly family farms, as described by John Wilcox and many others. Family farms are valued by all sectors of agriculture; many of the farms in commodity agriculture are also family farms. The reason for their value is the long term care by a family that is passed down through generations, giving a true meaning to sustainability since the farm must be passed on to the next generation with the promise of productivity for succeeding generations. There is also a very small group of farms known as "community farms" by Farm Folk City folk and the Land Conservancy, and these are essentially community owned by virtue of municipal ownership, donation or fundraising by the Land Conservancy who hold title, or some other arrangement that makes them a non-privately owned farm structure (although a group of people could privately own such a farm) The people who farm may be unrelated, as described by Jan Steinman who lives in an ecovillage-community farm, but that is not THE definition of community agriculture.
    For most of us, community agriculture is a type of farming that is connected to community of place. Food produced in the community is eaten in the community. Some may be sold further afield,but local direct marketing is the norm.
    What I see most promising is a strengthening of the community agriculture sector over the long term as its importance to food security becomes evident to the policy makers
    Last edited by Firhill; March 24th,2010 at 10:35 AM.

  6. #6

    Community-supported agriculture is a socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farming operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production.

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