Students outside library

Case Study Salt Spring Agricultural Land Preservation and Food Security

By Llanavis Davies

The preservation of agricultural land both the space and land quality is directly related to food security and sustainability, as without healthy available land to grow food: people are unable to eat in times of crisis and food shortages.

Agriculture on Salt Spring Island (SSI) has been practised for over 150 years; overtime agriculture has declined on the island. There are now efforts being made on SSI to maintain the existing land from being utilized for alternative purposes such as residential development. British Columbia has some of the strictest policies around the preservation of agricultural land, also known as the agricultural land reserve. SSI has an active vibrant and knowledgeable farming community who are making efforts to obtain, protect, and maintain the quality of agricultural land.

Challenges to the maintenance of agricultural land and the correlation to food security include some of the following. The population on SSI is somewhat divided as there are year round residents and part-time residents who want a recreational home. This push for recreational properties encourages the development of agricultural lands as they are usually situated next to urban areas. Since SSI is mostly comprised of an older retired population who tend to be uninterested in purchasing farm land and taking on the responsibility of maintain it or growing crops. Many farmers are the sole workers on their farms and are unable to hire additional staff to assist with their labour intense methods, which restricts the amount of land that can be cultivated for food.

Another challenge is that with education about best agricultural practices, comes intellectual superiority or judgement within the farming community as regards to the appropriateness of each farms methods and their level of sustainable practice. If farmers were able to share information about better farming methods without instilling guilt upon other farmers or displaying a sense of superiority more community collaboration could be reached and unified goals achieved. Instead of four to five agricultural groups and organizations perhaps one larger unified task force could be developed, comprising of departments. This may prove more affective in achieving land preservation and food security initiatives.

Other case studies on agricultural land preservation revealed the following methods which may be useful in a SSI context:

Growth Control Initiatives-urban growth containment boundaries, urban moratoria (freezing development until policies can be developed to protect locations accordingly)

Preferential Property Taxation- which encourages owners to keep their property agricultural through incentive programs

Finally it may be useful to encourage farm minded individuals to relocate to SSI instead of retirees but re-imaging and intentionally seeking them out. This may already be unintentionally occurring as SSI has gained a reputation for a population that is actively pursuing and utilising extreme ecologically conscious farming methods and has a strong vocal farming community.

Related Posts