Introductory Essay

Premise

Food and its production are essential for life. Growing Green’s objective is to enhance the capacity of the voluntary sector in BC so that it can better promote law, policy and regulatory reform towards sustainable agriculture and food systems.

The food system produces far more than just the calories we eat. It produces:

  • Economic services: the agriculture and food economy multiplies jobs in communities and supports rural cultures.
  • Environmental services: carefully managed, farmland protects the soil, provides a buffer against droughts and floods, and can provide habitat for a range of species.
  • Social services: food is integral to building relationships between people and communities. We gather to buy and to enjoy food. Farmland — the working landscape — is important for people’s sense of place and season.

There is a challenge, however. In many situations, rather than rewards, farmers incur penalties for providing these services, since "sustainable practices" increase costs, and cost increases make farms uncompetitive. Southwestern British Columbia should be a model region for sustainable agriculture and food. However, the socio-economic system as a whole has created a food production and distribution system that discourages environmentally sound farm management.

Growing Green has taken a collaborative approach, bringing parties together to develop strategies for addressing these challenges. The Project Team is committed to working with farmers, and with people from food, health, environment and other sectors, to dismantle regulatory barriers and promote sustainable agriculture and food systems.

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Background: citiesPLUS

In 2002, members of the Growing Green Project Team contributed to Vancouver’s citiesPLUS project, which developed Canada’s first 100-year plan for a sustainable metropolitan area. Canada was one of eight countries invited to submit entries to the World Gas Conference’s sustainable urban systems design competition. The Team Canada submission was developed by a public/private partnership of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the Sheltair Group, Canadian Gas Association, Liu Institute for Global Issues and other sponsors. On June 4, 2003, Vancouver’s plan won the competition. The citiesPLUS project will become the cornerstone for revising the GVRD's Livable Region Strategic Plan, recognized internationally as a model for regional growth management.

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