UBC Farm footprint fight afoot

This article was updated on October 9, 2008, at 10:50 a.m.

A UBC food researcher says there is a “very large risk” that UBC Farm will be “moved and/or shrunk in size” as a result of the university’s review of its Main Campus Plan.

“Currently it’s 24 hectares, and that includes field and forest,” Gavin Wright, member of Friends of UBC Farm, told the Straight by phone. “The plans that are being proposed are looking at eight hectares or less as the new footprint—so reducing it to a third or less in size.”

Wright said two weeks of public consultation on the fate of the farm will begin on October 16, with three options for the public to comment on. He added that “at least two of the three [options] have the farm with a reduced footprint of eight hectares or less, or a moving of the farm”.

“This would disrupt all of our programming and put us in a place where we would take 10 years to get back up to the programming that we currently have, to say nothing of the possibility of expansion that we were hoping to do,” Wright said.

Today (October 9), Art Bomke of Metro Vancouver's agricultural advisory committee was planning to ask the Metro Vancouver agriculture committee to send a letter to the UBC board of governors and the Metro Vancouver/UBC joint committee, requesting that the farm be retained “in its current size and location”.

Added Wright, “They [UBC] are saying, ”˜Yes, there will be a farm,’ but they are not really looking deeply at what the farm is going to look like. This is true of many folks—they don’t necessarily recognize the value of the full, integrated farm system that we have out here. They see they could have a smaller UBC farm with just a bunch of separated research plots, and that would serve the role that they see the farm playing. However, we very much see that a full integrated farm system is the most valuable asset that we have.”

Nancy Knight, UBC’s associate vice president of campus and community planning, did not return a call by the Straight ’s deadline.