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Sandown an opportunity
Re: Don’t compete with farms, PNR Dec. 13. Most of the farmers and market gardeners I have spoken with are in favour of the Sandown proposal and I, as a market gardener, am one of them.
The letter-writer states “In my view, we simply do not need a community farm. We have enough farm land.” I wonder what his criteria is? The 2006 Ministry of Agriculture report B.C.’s Food Self-Reliance – Can B.C.’s Farmers Feed a Growing Population? indicates that one acre is needed to provide food for one person for one year. North Saanich has 1,226 hectares being farmed. That means we are only farming enough land to feed 2,339 people. If you include Sidney, which has no farmland, then we are farming enough land to feed only 11 per cent of the population of the two municipalities. That’s not including the larger community that the letter-writer wants to add.
The Ministry of Agriculture report adds “to maintain the  levels of self-reliance [at 48 per cent] through to the year 2025, farmers will need to increase production by 30 per cent over 2001 levels. The increased production will be concentrated on the land that has access to irrigation – land that is typically near the urban centers.”
Food security is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of government. When the Sandown proposal first came to light, many young farmers came to North Saanich council indicating a desire to lease the land, saying they could not afford to buy farmland here.
With the average age of farmers at 56 years, we definitely need more farmers and we have to find creative ways to give young farmers access to land. The Sandown proposal provides that opportunity.