Sunday, September 2, 2012

What is Urban Agriculture?

While there are community gardens throughout the city, this is something different and a very unique vision. It hasn’t been done in Edmonton before; it has never been part of the discussion in an ASP before. Where urban agriculture is concerned, here’s what the current plan proposes:
·         Retain all land currently being used by major vegetable producers as agriculture. That’s about 184 ha for private agriculture uses
·         Designate another 11 ha along the utility corridors and rail rights of way as agriculture
·         Designate some of the City’s land (10% of the total plan area, usually used for schools and parks) for community gardens. This could amount to another 8 to 15 ha
Previous ASPs in Edmonton didn’t designate any land for agriculture. What is proposed amounts to more than 200ha. That means it is being proposed to set aside more land for agricultural use than what is currently being used for intensive food production purposes such as fruit and vegetables.
That’s an important distinction to make. The ASP suggests that once this land is developed and full of vibrant communities, there would be more land for intensive food production than what is being used for that purpose today!
Despite this, there are still suggestions that this isn’t enough; that a 600 ha parcel of land needs to be set aside. Not only does this disregard landowner’s rights (see previous post), it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Who would buy this land? Who would use it? Would Edmonton rate payers foot the bill just in case enough people want to plant a garden? No viable options have been suggested. No demand for this much agricultural land has been presented. No qualified buyer has come forward looking to purchase this land.
The current plan sets aside more land for agricultural use than what the current demand for it appears to be. It is a balance of landowner’s rights, the City’s growth needs, and requests of community groups. The current ASP is fair, it makes sense, and it has NEEA’s support.
We encourage you to get involved and let your City Councillor know that you support the current ASP.
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