Reinventing: Agriculture in Innisfil, part 2

This is the second in a series to look at how Innisfil could reinvent itself to be a “town unlike any other” by embracing the principles of conservation sustainability, and smart growth.

Do people and agriculture mix? In Barrie, they claim to have “run out of land” and needed to annex more than 2 square kilometres to accommodate industrial growth. Innisfil Heights was planned to convert farmland into industrial sites and housing for 50,000. 

Innisfil Heights, Town of Innisfil Expansion Maps

The reverse process is occurring in Detroit. After the population plummeted from 2 million to 500,000, large tracts of abandoned suburban housing are in the process of being converted to urban farming. Detroit has about 40 square miles that are unoccupied.

This post discusses some new approaches to preserve the agricultural heritage of Innisfil:

Remove Threatened Agricultural Lands from the Development Market

The formation of an Agricultural Land Trust may be one approach to allow retiring farmers to leave the land without opening the farm-gate to developers. The creation of a non-profit Trust would open the way for greater cooperation with Conservation Authorities, municipal planners, and conservation groups. The Agricultural Land Trust could supplement rental income with the addition of solar and/or wind power on Trust lands to support their programs.

Support a New Generation of Farmers

An Agricultural Land Trust could also cooperate with a group similar to ‘Grow Our Farms’ (see Links on the right) that helps new and immigrant farmers get started on rented land.

Plan and Zone for Urban Farming

Urban Farm Concept, 1980

Urban farm concept, circa 1980, The Edible City Resource Manual, Richard Blitz, 1981

As land is lost on the edges of urbanized areas, new farm capacity should be added to the urban area. Urban farming is not a new idea. Concepts for urban farms have been around for about 40 years. Some farms in Toronto and Vancouver operate from backyards and rooftops. You can view dozens of photos by searching Google for “urban farm” images. Plans for new residential construction should include provision to set aside areas for agricultural use as well as for public uses such as parks, libraries, schools and churches. The Town of Innisfil could help facilitate the registration of urban property for agricultural use.

Develop a Local Food Policy

The Town could do more to support local and urban agriculture by committing support to each of these measures and by supporting community groups that promote local food use. These might include farmers’ markets, community kitchen, farm-gate food processors and nutrition programs.