On the surface, much progress appears to have been made in “saving” the UBC Farm. UBC President Stephen Toope has repeatedly expressed his recognition of the vital role that the Farm plays in making UBC a leader in sustainability, and the South Campus Academic Plan, “Cultivating Place,” has received strong endorsement from UBC’s Executive. Such breakthroughs are due in no small part to an outpouring of public support for the Farm over the past 18 months, which included over 2000 students, staff and community members celebrating this 24-hectare farm-forest agroecosystem in April 2009’s Great Farm Trek.
Nonetheless, it’s worth sizing up these advances against the 5 Criteria that Friends of the Farm published two years ago to specify what it means to “save” the UBC Farm. First and foremost, protecting the UBC Farm entails formalizing the Farm’s land designation from “Future Housing Reserve” to”UBC Farm/Centre for Sustainable Food Systems.” Today, the UBC Farm is still labeled “Future Housing Reserve.”
Within the public consultations that UBC Campus & Community Planning is hosting to update UBC’s Land Use Plan, we finally have a chance to officially remove the Farm’s problematic land designation. The “Cultivating Place” plan explicitly recommends changing the land use label to “UBC Farm.” However, the Land Use Plan Open House Workshop announcement states that the Farm will be designated “Green Academic.”
Campus & Community Planning has not defined what “Green Academic” actually means. Why not simply change the designation to “UBC Farm” instead of creating a confusing label that appears nowhere in Cultivating Place? Will UBC Farm stakeholders be granted decision-making authority over detailed land use activities that take place at the Farm? What types of development and land use would be allowable under “Green Academic?”
Cultivating Place outlines a progressive vision for South Campus in teaching, learning and research on pressing issues of food system sustainability, and we need to know how the principles of this academic plan will be followed under UBC’s new Land Use Plan. This is a critical time to voice your support for the Farm: Please sign up for one of the two Open House workshops on THURSDAY, JULY 15 (4:30-6pm, or 6:30-8pm) by RSVPing to Stefani Lu: firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you in advance for coming!