Community Farms Program History

The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) and FarmFolk/CityFolk (FFCF) developed the Community Farms Program in response to inquiries received by FFCF from people who want to farm, and by TLC from people who have farmland and want to preserve it.

In February 2006, at the annual Certified Organic Association of BC conference, Heather Pritchard (FFCF) and Ramona Scott (TLC) began a conversation about how they could go beyond passively supporting the protection of farmland for future food production to actively encouraging it.

They knew all about the many barriers to conserving farmland and developing a local, sustainable food supply, and that we are rapidly losing the science and craft of how to grow our own food. They also knew the demand for local, organically-grown food is growing exponentially, and that demand has already exceeded supply in BC. Most importantly, they knew that community and cooperative farms provide an excellent solution to all these problems and issues.

At that time, there were about 20 farms scattered throughout BC holding land in common and farming it in community. Half of these farms were registered cooperatives. One of these farms was Fraser Common Farm Cooperative, where Heather had been a member for 30 years.

In 2002, the land cooperative members converted their farming business to a cooperative – Glorious Organics Cooperative. The process was complex, confusing, and took a lot of time, but fortunately, Melanie Conn and Marty Frost, (affectionately called Mom and Pa Co-op) assisted the group to a successful conversion.

Both Ramona and Heather realized the importance of providing this sort of assistance to all new and existing farms, if the community and cooperative farm movement were to continue to develop.

By the end of the conference, they had drafted an outline for a program to promote and support community farms in B.C. With financial and staffing support from FFCF and TLC, they created a joint venture: The Community Farms Program.


As they developed the program, Heather and Ramona were invited to speak to groups all across the province. They gave many early presentations, including Salt Spring Island, 100 Mile House, and at Kwantlen College, the COABC Annual Conference, and the annual BC Food Systems gathering. After every presentation, there was a line-up of people wanting to explore the idea further. Typically, these individuals fell into one of two interest groups: new farmers wanting access to land, and aging farmers looking for ways to pass on their farms and their experience.

We continue to make presentations all over the province. Interest remains high, and word of the program is spreading to an increasingly diverse audience. We host and attend meetings and events that help us build alliances and partnerships, and continually share information about the Community Farm Program and its projects.

Project History

Between 2006 and 2009, FarmFolk/Cityfolk and The Land Conservancy of BC delivered several projects to help develop the Community Farms Program and support community farmers in BC. We are grateful to our program sponsors for supporting farming in BC through the Community Farms Program.

In these projects:

We create tools and information products tailored for small-scale farms and help form community groups to support community farms and farmers.

We facilitate the Community Farms Network and Roundtable gatherings to share information about community farm experiences and connect new and existing community farms in BC.

We set up a Community Farms Farmer Survey, where interested farmers can complete a survey on their needs and assets, and become part of a process that helps bring farmers together with each other and land.

We created this web site to provide information about the program, house community farm resources, and link to partners and other programs.

TLC has several farmland protection projects underway, including Horse Lake Farm, Lohbrunner Farm, Madrona Farm, Nicomekl Farm, Turtle Valley Farm, Woodwyn Farm, and Gabriola Commons.

Our project sponsors helped us create useful references and resources:

Community Farms Program Feasibility Study (pdf, 695 kb)
This study addresses the legal opportunities and barriers faced by BC community farms.

Community Farms in BC: Building Local Food Systems for Sustainable Communities (pdf, 207 kb)
Dr. Hannah Wittman surveyed existing community farms for operational strategies practiced by existing 'community farms' in BC, and to identify challenges for the implementation of new community farms.

A Guide to Farmland Access Agreements (pdf, 1,487 kb)
This resource explores options for farmland access agreements and provides information that can be used to develop working templates for leases, profits a prendre, licenses, rental agreements, and Memoranda of Understanding.

Affirmative Agriculture Covenants (in development)
TLC explores the potential of using affirmative covenants to guarantee that farmland is kept in sustainable agricultural production.

Succession Planning for Farms and Farmland (in development)
This booklet and related resources provides information on succession planning considerations and options for farmland owners who are concerned about the long-term protection of their land.

Whole Farm Planning (in development)
TLC is designing a ?Whole Farm Planning process? that help community farms set conservation and sustainable agriculture objectives that enhance agro-ecological features and support farm businesses.

Farmland and Futures: Local Government Toolkit for Agriculture (in development)
This toolkit provides options for local governments to take leading roles in encouraging and supporting agricultural production in BC and create favourable environments for agriculture in their communities.

Farmland Trusts (in development)
This research provides information about farmland trusts in Canada, US, and the UK for the public and land trust community, and for TLC?s Farmland Trust goals, activities, and governance and financial structures.

created by: Barbara Joughin

Last Modified: April 12, 2011