Whole Farm Planning

In the Community Farms Program, the primary activity on a community farm is local food production. Farmers on community farms use environmentally sustainable farming practices in their operations.

Farms participating in the Community Farm Program are requested to prepare and follow a Whole Farm Plan.

What is a Whole Farm Plan?

A Whole Farm Plan (WFP) sets conservation and sustainable agriculture objectives and guidelines, and summarizes the agreements that are made by people working together on a community farm.

These documents describe the characteristics and capacity of the land, and hold its stories, history and culture. They identify resources and opportunities to be an economically successful, multi-functional community farm with diverse agricultural, ecological and social activities.

Whole Farm Plans help community farm stakeholders set goals and plan for conservation of their farm's agro-ecological features. These plans guide community farms to use environmentally sustainable farming practices and principles in their operations and protect and enhance biodiversity.

The WFP informs the farmers' relationship with the farm, and defines the parameters to be included in individual farm plans and business plans.

The Whole Farm Planning Process

A Whole Farm Plan (WFP) is more than a Plan. As a draft WFP is developed, the process of doing so is actually a tool that brings people together, builds community, and helps develop the vision and intention of members of the farm group.

A WFP is written collaboratively by Community Farms Program staff, members of the farm's community group, farm tenants, neighbours, and selected community members. This process yields a dynamic communications tool that informs decisions about the land – and it is regularly reviewed and revisited.

What's Different About Community Farms Whole Farm Plans?

While WFPs are relatively straightforward to develop for privately-owned farms, the process is more complex for community farms because it must include the diverse needs and responsibilities of multiple stakeholders and authorities. It's important to spell out clearly all the different roles and how decisions are made.

TLC researched existing WFPs, and is designing a template and guide for a whole farm planning process for community farms.

created by: Barbara Joughin

Last Modified: April 12, 2011