Dear food security enthusiasts:
A group of concerned citizens is creating a food production co-operative in the Comox Valley. The Community Created Agriculture Co-op (CCAC) is in the process of acquiring a 56-Acre farm within city limits in Courtenay. In the next few months, we will be setting up the necessary infrastructure to facilitate production, processing, preservation, storage, and delivery of food in the Comox Valley. This includes the purchase of a farm where food can be produced or collected to be delivered to the 300 individuals or families that will participate in the CCAC Food Supply Program. The co-operative will own, house and maintain, farm equipment, cold storage, processing equipment, etc … for the use of the co-op members on a cost recovery basis. Attached is the Vision document that places the project in its context.
In fact, the 56-Acre farm is a nursery business that has all the necessary infrastructure such as greenhouses, irrigation, pumps, roads, etc. to be operational at the time we take possession. The intention is to transform this farm into a food producing and processing hub; the nursery business will be phased out in two to three years, utilizing the current inventory to finance the operation and service the debt during the food production ramp up.
The CCAC is having a subscription drive to finance the purchase of the farm and the start-up of food production in 2018. If you want to be one of the three hundred families or individuals who want to know where their organic food comes from, this is your opportunity. Subscribers contribute $ 1000 to participate in the Food Supply Program – to purchase as much food as desired from the Co-op, based on the model of Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which subscribers pre-order food and pay for it in advance so the costs of production can be financed. Your subscription of $1,000 will also give you $100 worth of food, products, and services, from CCAC – a 10% return, every year, for life. You can contribute larger amounts and take further advantage of this 10% return in perpetuity.
Please read the Vision document and do not hesitate to contact us to answer your questions. We highly recommend that you visit the farm (by appointment) so you can see first hand how tangible the project is. Please let us know your interest in this community initiative and if you want to participate in this Food Supply Program. We will need your contact address and a check for $1,000 or the amount of your choice to “Community Created Agriculture Co-op” to:
C/O Eduardo Uranga
3404 Primrose St.
Share this message with the people in your network, we appreciate your help.
Visit the following web pages to learn more about our initiative.
Our Mission is to establish an agricultural Co-operative that will create the necessary infrastructure to facilitate production, processing, preservation, storage, and delivery of food in the Comox Valley. This includes the purchase of a farm where food can be produced or collected to be delivered to the three hundred individuals and families that participate in the CCAC food supply program. The co-operative will own, house and maintain farm equipment, cold storage, processing equipment, etc. for the use of the co-op members on a cost recovery basis (10-year equipment amortization + utilities + fuel + maintenance + operator + overhead). If you want to be one of the three hundred families or individuals who want to eat Roundup (glyphosate) free food and know where their food comes from, this is your opportunity.
The principles the co-op members agree to operate under are:
- Non-GMO and Roundup Free Agriculture
- Access to Farm Equipment
- Organic and Sustainable Farming practices
- Food Security
- Preserve and enhance the agricultural and ecological capacity of the land;
- Sustain a source of local, fresh, healthy food;
- Subscribers have first option to purchase their food from the CCAC;
- Provide educational opportunities for a diverse audience to learn about the interdependence of sustainable agriculture and conservation;
- Demonstrate a community farming and land stewardship model for others to adopt.
- Living Wage Compliant
- 15 Km diet
The way we grow our food affects so much of the world around us: our health, the health of the land and water, birds and wildlife, our atmosphere, the ability of people to make a living wage and of communities to thrive. Two of the most defining challenges of our time is how we choose to feed ourselves and how we choose to deal with climate change. And the two are related.
The choices we make now can lead to an extraordinary future. If we invest in farming that is adaptable and regenerative, that respects the limits of the season, that builds soil and economies—we can grow a vibrant way of farming that delivers fresh, healthy, affordable food while being resilient in the face of a highly variable climate.
The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of how the Community Created Agriculture Co-op (CCAC) is planning to provide safe food and food security for three hundred families and individuals that reside in the Comox Valley, who are willing to consider CCAC their favored food source. It is a conversation starter to spark shared dialogue on a proposed solution to a long-term problem in our community. We invite your collaboration as we co-create our food secure future.
Transforming energy supply is perhaps the most direct path to a low-carbon world, but reconstructing food systems follows closely in terms of importance. Industrial methods of food production and distribution and wasteful or high-impact consumption practices make food a focal point for any transition to a low-carbon world. Current practices are dominated by the use of carbon-intensive pesticides, fertilizers, oil-powered machinery, and plastic packaging, and the globalized food chain can mean that food often travels tens of thousands of kilometers to arrive on our plates. To make matters worse, it is estimated that One-third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted globally (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, 2013). 31 Billion CAD (40% of all the food produced in Canada) is wasted.
It follows that any transition to a sustainable society is going to require huge changes in our methods of food production and distribution and our cultures of food consumption. Not only is food a critically important key to such a transition, it is often said that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, suggesting that food may be an important way to engage people about broader issues of social and ecological concern. In the absence of progressive government action, however, it again seems likely that the driver for change may have to come from the socio-cultural sphere.
The Community Created Agriculture Co-op is one example of where citizens are getting active in local food production. One must acknowledge, however, that CCAC will produce only a tiny, often insignificant, percentage of the Comox Valley food requirements. This is not to downplay the potential importance of agriculture cooperatives as a mechanism for social change; they are arguably an important means of creating a social conversation about food, as well as creating social hubs and networks that promote community interaction and knowledge sharing. But CCAC is not really threatening to disrupt conventional, industrial food production.
Innovations with disruptive potential like CCAC involve new ways of connecting local people with local farmers. Food co-ops, local farmers market, Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), and farmer-direct veggie box schemes, increasingly providing urban and suburban people with access to locally grown food.
‘Localising’ food production, however, is only a relatively small part of the transformation needed. ‘Food miles’ is a concept that gets a significant amount of attention, but analyses suggest that the embedded carbon in the ‘transporting’ of food is only somewhere around 5-10% of the total emissions flowing from food. This is still a significant percentage, of course, and it suggests that localizing food production can indeed reduce carbon emissions by reducing food miles (as well as build food resilience and security). But what it really shows is that the way food is produced (e.g. industrial vs. organic) and the type of foods produced and consumed (e.g. high meat vs. low meat diets), is more relevant to the carbon footprint of food than where food is produced (distant vs. local). Furthermore, ‘food miles’ can mislead insofar as different modes of transport change the carbon footprint. For example, transporting food by a truck can be 10 times more carbon intensive than using a train, so again, it is not simply about where food is produced, but how it is produced, what is produced, and how it is transported.
What, then, could provoke a radical change away from carbon-intensive methods of food production, distribution, and consumption? Rising energy costs – due to the peaking of oil production or by internalizing the full costs of carbon (e.g. a carbon tax) – could be a significant means of changing the economics of the current system. Expensive energy would make organic and local production more economically competitive, and high meat consumption less affordable. In much the same way that we can expect a rapid transition to renewable energy the moment it is cheaper than fossil energy, so too could we expect a rapid transition to organic food production if high energy costs made industrial methods uneconomic. The third mode of transformation could be a culture shift away from high-impact diets, through which people choose to buy local and organic, and reduce meat consumption, due to ethical considerations more than economic ones. Ethical enlightenment, however, may not be a pathway to rely upon.
Whether a low-carbon system of food production is forced upon us or voluntarily chosen, the case of Cuba provides an inspiring example of what such a system might look like. With the collapse of the USSR, Cuba’s oil imports were reduced significantly, forcing the nation, over a short time frame, to move away from oil-intensive, industrial methods of production to more local and organic systems of food production. In the early ‘90s, the urban landscape changed drastically, with all available growing spaces cultivated for organic production. Although the Cuban government played a role in this transition, the primary driving force came from people themselves, who just did what they needed to do to survive.
Could more urban centers adopt urban agriculture to the extent Cuba did during its oil crisis? Throughout the developed world and beyond, small but growing subcultures of food activists are experimenting with exciting methods of urban agriculture – food swaps, guerrilla gardening, home aquaponics, vertical gardens, green roofs, ‘slow food’ practices, community gardens, urban farms, etc. – but yet, it must be admitted, these practices have been unable to ‘scale up’ sufficiently to threaten the existing system. But the case of Cuba presents one vision of urban agriculture’s potential. It also demonstrates the speed at which food systems can change when ignited by some disruptive force.
Elements of the Co-op:
- Community Created Agriculture Co-op has been incorporated under the Cooperative Association Act, as a For-Profit Cooperative with no investment shares to be issued.
- An agreement has been reached with the farm owner and a contract to purchase has been signed.
- Farm Equipment quotes have been received and the cost recovery use has been calculated
- Processing facility and equipment
- 3 Greenhouses are available with at total of 12,000 square feet
- Food Safe Processing Facility
- Grain Processing and storage facility
- Packing and Cold Storage facility
- Co-Op Food Store
- Feed mill
- Wood pellet mill
- Ethanol and alcoholic beverages production
- Farm Equipment services to Co-op members
- Greenhouse Vegetables
- Field vegetables
- Grain and seed production
- Livestock husbandry
- Goat Dairy
- Feed Mill
- Pellet Manufacturing
- Woodlot management
- Anaerobic Digester
- Fermentation Facility
- Distillation equipment
- Electricity Co-Generation
- Local currency (EagleCoin)
List of Foods
- Salad greens
- Bell Peppers
- Green Beans
- Dry Beans
- Chick Peas
- Black Currants
- Italian Plumbs
- Apple Juice
- Goat’s Milk
- Goat’s Cheese
- Goat’s Yogurt
- Hemp Seeds
- Hemp Oil
- Hemp Frozen Dessert
- Hemp Protein Powder
Farm Tool Inventory
- 120 HP Tractor
- 50 HP Tractor
- 30 HP Tractor
- Compact Tractor
- Front Loader
- Backhoe for tractor
- Post Pounder
- Manure Sprayer
- Rotating Plow
- Rock Crusher
- Manure Spreader
- Precision Seeder
- Field Cultivator
- Row Mulcher
- Steam weed killer
- Row Cultivator
- Grain Harvester (Combine)
- Grain Cleaner
- Grain Drier
- Grain De-hauler
- Sickle Bar Cutter
- Equipment Trailer
- Dumping Trailer
- Wood Chipper
- Drip Irrigation Equipment
- Sweet Sorghum Juicer
- Milking Equipment
- Fruit Juicer
- Fruit, Herb and Vegetable Dryer
- Oil Press
- Juice and Milk Pasteurizer
- Soil Testing Equipment
- Delivery truck
Sources of Financing
Food Supply Program Subscription to finance the purchase of the farm and the start-up of food production, to be up and running by the spring of 2018You are encouraged to contribute larger amounts and take advantage of this 10% benefit in perpetuity even further.
In exchange for your contribution, the CCAC will provide the following benefits to the subscriber:
- Membership to CCAC’s Food Supply Program that allows the subscriber to purchase as much food as desired from CCAC, based on the model of community-supported agriculture (CSA), in which the subscriber preorders food and pays for it in advance to CCAC so the costs of production can be financed. CCAC’s intention is to supply food the entire year to satisfy as much as possible the needs of the subscribers.
- Food Supply Program: Three hundred Residents of the Comox Valley (families or individuals) can support the Community Created Agriculture Co-op (CCAC) with a subscription of $1,000, with the incentive to receive a $100 of food from CCAC, every year, for life. There is no limit for contributions and is a tax-free benefit. This incentive is the equivalent of a 10% yearly return in perpetuity. Sponsors are encouraged to contribute larger amounts and take advantage of this benefit. Such contribution entitles the backer to participate in the CCAC Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The benefit is transferable during the first 10 years. If you want to be one of the three hundred families or individuals who want to eat RoundUp (glyphosate) free food and know where their food comes from, this is your opportunity. Your subscription contribution of $1,000 will help to pay for the down payment and the startup costs to get the farm up and running.
- CCAC’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): the balance of the food needs of the sponsor can be supplemented by additional purchase of food from CCAC based on the model of community supported agriculture (CSA), in which the market price of the food is paid to CCAC in advance, so the costs of production can be financed. The food provided by CCAC is to be consumed by the stakeholder and not to be resold or gifted, this is due to the limited production capacity. Purchases for another individual or family are not allowed. The intention is to produce food the entire year to satisfy as much as possible the needs of the consumer members, therefore, CSA payments can be made in installments.
- BC Ministry of Agriculture: An application is being made to The Agriculture Sector Development Branch to provide funding (85% of up to $30,000) for hiring a consultant to prepare the business plan to present to potential lenders for funding. smartfarmbc.ca
- The Canadian Agricultural Loan Act (CALA): Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will guarantee to the lender, repayment of up to 95% of a net loss on an eligible loan issued, up to $3,000,000 for an agricultural cooperative with a majority (50% + 1) farmer membership. agr.gc.ca/cala
Why Farmers? Why the Comox Valley? Why now?
With the CCAC, we will have a fair chance to close the ingenuity gap between the food we consume and how it is produced, highlighting the need for natural food to maintain health and, at the same time, preserve the environment and the soil.
We all know that our food systems, as they currently exist, are broken. Industrial market domination of our food systems has led to unacceptable waste. Modern commercial agriculture, with its mono-crops and reliance on chemical pesticides, herbicides like Roundup, and synthetic fertilizers, is rendering once fertile land dead, and damaging nearby ecosystems. The associated carbon footprint is shameful. Energy and resources are wasted at every step of the production, processing and distribution chain.
The reckless and unethical pursuit of profit from “cheap” food, by large, faceless corporations, takes no account of the real costs. These market systems heavily subsidized by governments and entrenched by vested interests, force all our farmers to compete on price. How often do we hear our small local farmers comment on how difficult it is to make a living these days? The necessity of competing, from a position of disadvantage, with “Big Food,” means that small farmers face pressure to conform to standards of practice that are not in keeping with their own values or those of their community.
There is no resilience in these systems. The food supply on Vancouver Island is especially fragile. In the case of a natural disaster or an economic crisis disrupting the ferries or the supply chain from other countries; even for a few days disruption, it would be a total disaster.
Recent political changes in the United States of America could also turn out to be a threat to our fragile food supply; a large proportion of our food comes from the USA or through the US from Mexico. Any disruption in the food distribution system in the US will disrupt food supply to Vancouver Island and the Comox Valley, making our situation very difficult. To minimize this risk becomes a priority.
6.4% of Farmers in BC are under 40 years old and 62% are over 55 years old. As farmers age, good farmland on Vancouver Island is falling into disuse, especially into disuse, as it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone who wants to farm to pay the price of admission. Young people keen to farm, are prohibited by the cost of access to land, equipment, and training. We have an abundance of once-productive farmland here in the Comox Valley that has been turned into pasture or left to go to idle, yet remains inaccessible to those who wish to enter farming. The Comox Valley Regional District reports that 11,000 acres out of 23,000 in the inventory of ALR land are not in food production; most are in hay production for horses and cows. The Comox Valley produces 198% of the dairy needs of the residents of the valley, but the vast majority of it goes out south to be processed and needs to be imported back for consumption. 11,000 chickens are produced in the Comox Valley every 8 to 12 weeks, but none of them stays in the valley for local consumption, the market for chicken in the Comox Valley is 50,000 chickens per month, according to Statistics Canada.
We are gathering a group of people who want to solve these issues, and are prepared to get their hands into it, maybe physically, maybe financially, maybe intellectually, or all the above.
The Project’s Vision
The project will necessarily involve the participation of many, many who have creative ideas and capacities to contribute to the resilient future we so enthusiastically want to live. CCAC aims to remain flexible enough to respond to the changing needs of its members, and the world around us, while remaining rooted enough to achieve its purpose. As such, a general vision statement has been established, including several supporting Vision Elements that will help to guide the evolving work.
- Our Vision is to establish a community of people who are dedicated to establishing a self-sufficient local economy and personal life, as much as is biophysically possible given the opportunities and constraints of the land upon which it is based.
- Our Mission is to provide a supportive environment in which people can learn and practice farming skills at their own pace with their friends and family.
CCAC will be an enterprise:
- …that aims to not overextend This means that the project will grow as the membership, capacity and interest grow. The work of the project must, therefore, remain adaptable to these realities and practice at a scale that is sustainable.
- …that is not afraid to fail. This means that experimentation and learning from practice will be promoted and shared so that others may benefit from the experiences of others.
- … that practices holistic systems. This means that the multi-dimensional nature of self-sufficiency will be explored including many different food and textile resources, local fundraising, education and group dynamics.
- …that is not motivated to make money. This means that Community Created Agriculture Co-operative will not pursue a profit in the strictly financial sense, but will measure its success based on the capacity it delivers to the participants. It is recognized that raising farmers is of higher value than growing crops.
- …that is open to all community members who share the Vision. This means that CCAC will focus its energies in its initial stages at working with people that are already interested in the Vision as described, to promote a positive and productive working relationship that sets a solid foundation for on-going actions. All ages, abilities, skills and economic situations are welcome.
- …that uses principles and the science of sustainability, resilience, and permaculture in all aspects of its work. CCAC will aim to challenge the status quo in its practices by demonstrating through hands-on examples how to live well with the web of life.
An invitation for you to join us
Each of us involved in CCAC is passionate about living a respectful and happy life with other communities, including their ecologies. Community Created Agriculture Co-op is a vision in self-sufficiency, as best as we can on the land that we work with.
The vision is bold and multi-dimensional and will take years for it to fully come to fruition, a static goal is not the aim, rather, CCAC endeavors to be a farmer-generating enterprise that adapts and prepares as our world changes all around us by establishing a community around its production, because each of us knows that it takes a community to do anything worthwhile.
This long-term vision for CCAC includes plans for the cultivation of a wide range of food and fiber sources, woodlot management, energy generation and establishing housing arrangements. In short, CCAC aims to become a sustainable intentional community over time.
The lack of vegetable fats and protein is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the goal of pesticide, GMO-free, and a 15-km diet. Cultivation of hemp will overcome this deficiency.
Dependency on fossil could also be overcome by sweet sorghum cultivation in the form of bioethanol. Production of biodiesel is contemplated from used vegetable oil. Solar thermal and photovoltaic energy will be a very important part of the equation to achieve energy independence together with biogas produced in anaerobic digestion and wood gasification processes. It is recognized that all GHG producing processes should be used to a minimum if not eliminated. Zero emissions is another important goal, carbon neutrality will be the next best option. Carbon offsets will be purchased when carbon neutrality is not achieved.
Implementation of the Negawatt concept is a clear objective, energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy production are the steps on the quest for a Net Zero Energy Input operation; superinsulated buildings will be the norm, hot water heat recovery, LED lighting, heat recovery ventilation systems, reflective insulation on walls and ceilings, window radiant barrier inserts, tight doors, etc. alternative construction materials will be used, such as hempcrete (for insulation and carbon capture for the life of the building) and recycled polystyrene. Standing dead timber will be used as construction material.
A holistic approach to physical health and mental wellness of the participants in this project is one of the vital aspects of the cooperative, and it will be addressed by having an in-house health practitioner as one of the primary benefits of the membership to the Co-op.
Recognizing that not everyone can live an intentional community lifestyle and that such endeavors take perseverance to achieve, CCAC offers opportunities for people to get involved in a variety of ways depending on their interests and abilities.
CCAC aims to be an incubator of agroecological farming, help young farmers succeed and to promote eating glyphosate (Roundup) free food.
We humbly request the Comox Valley community to support CCAC’s model that will encourage others to accept the challenge to take the future of food production in their hands.