Allowing residential landowners to sell what they grow is the first step toward cultivating a culture of urban farming, according to Lantzville Coun. Andrew Mostad.
The District of Lantzville adopted zoning bylaw changes that make market gardening and farm-gate sales a legitimate home-based business. The move comes three years after the municipality went head-to-head with Compassion Farm over a commercial food operation, which was not previously permitted on residential lots.
Residents will now be allowed to profit from crops like fruits, vegetables, trees and flowers under restrictions that include buffer zones, noise-scaring devices and artificial lighting.
The change is being called progressive by Lantzville Farmer’s Market manager Josh Fuller, who says that it never made sense to him that you couldn’t set aside a portion of your property to make money off like you could on agricultural land.
But Marjorie Stewart, spokeswoman for Friends of Urban Agriculture Lantzville Society, believes the bylaw still leaves huge barriers in front of urban farmers, including the need to create buffers and fencing. She calls the whole process a “mammoth waste of time.”
Mostad agrees the bylaw isn’t perfect, but he sees it as the first step in an effort to create resiliency to encourage and enhance urban agriculture in Lantzville.
It will take some fear away from those concerned about going up against the zoning bylaw after what they saw with Compassion Farm and as a living document, it has the potential to be tweaked in the future as people’s perceptions about urban agriculture change, he said, adding some still see the practice as a nuisance.
“Right now I think it’s as good as we are going to get,” Mostad said. “The first bit is done and that’s a huge relief. Thinking about the next steps is very exciting.”
Mostad said he’d like to see the district roll out agricultural programs, like an egg walk map that shows people where to find farm-fresh eggs. There could also be involvement in building chicken coops, mentorship programs and workshops, all geared at getting people interested and talking about growing food, he said.
“Food production is one of the cornerstones of our civilization and if our public leaders aren’t going to be taking some action on it, I don’t know if other people will be willing to step into something that’s so big,” he said.