Group wants to start a pilot program for regenerative farms in North Cowichan. (File photo)

Group looks to North Cowichan for farmland

Land could also be used for affordable housing

A suggestion that some municipal land in North Cowichan be used for collective farms was received warmly by council at its meeting on Nov. 18.

But any final decisions on the matter will have to wait.

Cody Wicks, a member of the Regenerative Land Stewards, told council that up to 100 acres of municipal lands, including those that are clear-cut or filled with invasive species, could be utilized to create a regenerative agriculture project that addressed multiple needs.

He said that as well as regenerating the degraded ecosystems, the project would also create sustainable agriculture for vegetables, teas, and animal husbandry, and also create affordable housing opportunities for land stewards who are running the businesses.

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Wicks said the pilot project would be intended as an example to secure funding from interested private and public investors, as well as the general public.

“We are asking for land that has been clear cut or otherwise degraded, including old homesteads, old schools, any sort of land and infrastructure in which there is currently no use,” he said.

“Ideally, there are no toxicology concerns, but these can also be addressed if needed. We would look for land to be financed to the organization of Collective Space, with conditions and covenants, to ensure it is managed in this way as a regenerative agriculture and housing project. It requires no funding other than the ability to access land long term and hold title, and could be financed if needed.”

Coun. Rob Douglas said the notion of attaining farmland for young farmers had come to council before.

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He said he likes the idea of finding ways for young farmers to have easier access to land, but he would like the municipality to have a formal process in place to deal with such requests first.

“For the sake of fairness, I think a formal process to apply would be best rather that dealing with them as one-offs,” he said.

Coun. Rosalie Sawrie said the municipality is currently reviewing its official community plans so the request is timely.

Mayor Al Siebring told Wicks that council doesn’t make decisions on matters immediately after a delegation.

“We need to look at the information and discuss the issues before any decisions are made,” he said.


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