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Farmlands Trust formalizes its request for Sandown land

The Farmlands Trust formalized its proposal to manage agriculture on the Sandown land, which North Saanich council is considering acquiring in a land swap deal.

In a letter to council, Ed Johnson, chair of the trust, said the society hopes to create a formal partnership with the municipality to detail the goals and responsibilities that might be associated with the deal, should it be approved by council.

“We anticipate the first few years of operation would see small vegetable acreages and community gardens being established, along with a year-round farmer’s market to serve the local community,” Johnson wrote in the letter.

Johnson also wrote a letter to council on June 6, 2011 stating a similar intent for the land – offering to “lend a hand, both figuratively and literally, when it is asked of us.”

Johnson told the Peninsula News Review that should Farmlands Trust be part of the land deal, it might take over some of the costs associated with preparing the 83 acre parcel for farming.

“We have an advisor who is a registered agrologist,” he said. “The Tsawout band has expressed interest and might qualify for federal money for some of the area. We’re a registered charity, so we could probably get a good deal [on demolition] in exchange for a tax receipt.”

North Saanich staff have estimated the cost of an agrologist and demolition to be $127,000.

Johnson hopes the trust becomes part of the Sandown discussion soon, in order to plant cover crops this fall.

“It’s perfect for us in that it’s a very low cost to no cost for our group, but it’s for the community that we’re doing this. We’re trying to find places where young farmers can get on the land.”

He said farmers are looking for one to five acre plots and the trust would hope to set up a community farm and a farmer’s market on the land.

“There’s income coming from the commercial side, income from the leases.

We’re a charity and i’m looking at it as removing the liability from the municipality. We would have to come in and be a third party [on a future memorandum of understanding with the Agricultural Land Reserve] and say, yes, we would do this for the ALC.”

Council decided on Monday to receive the letter and present it to residents it at future public hearings and other Sandown-related meetings.

 

Did you know?

The Farmlands Trust Society was formed in 2008 and hoped to take over operation of the Woodwynn Farm land, to grow organic vegetables and offer food sustainability education.

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