For More Information
Words of support and encouragement, requests for interviews, or tours of the farm can all be sent through the form on the left or via direct email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
To engage in dialogue and meet many of the people who support the farm please visit the Facebook group! Please keep posts on topic.
To donate to Dirk and Nicole's legal fund via PayPal,
Donations are also being taken at the following locations: visit ANY Coastal Community Credit Union on Vancouver Island and make a deposit into the Compassion Farm Defense Fund. Many thanks to Chris Strashok for arranging this!
You can also drop off a donation a the following locations near Lantzville: The Thirsty Camel, The Green Store, Old City Organics and The Vitamin House!
Letters of Support
Compassion Farm has recieved many letters of encouragement and support from their friends and neighbours, and other supporters of urban agriculture around the world. Below are just a few of the notes sent in to the Lantzville Council on their behalf!
A couple of weeks ago, Lantzville council received a complaint about a pile of dirt and horse manure encroaching on the road allowance outside a small farm.
The bylaw officer visited the offending owner and the pile was moved and spread. Then the officer returned and warned that a ‘cease and desist’ order to stop farming would have to be issued because the land use bylaw forbids agriculture in a residential zone.
At the following Lantzville council meeting, it became obvious there is confusion about the content and meaning of the bylaw, even among the elected officials.
A close reading of Lantzville Bylaw 60, 2005, reveals some surprising anomalies. The definition of ‘agriculture’ nowhere mentions selling crops, although this was the basis on which the cease and desist order was issued.
From Jamie Wallace, July 2011:
Here is the an
assessment I did of the property back in July. Keep in mind that I have
been involved in the landscape industry for over 25 years and I'm a
Landscape Horticulturalist with trades papers.
The Mayor and Councillors July 21 2011
District of Lantzville
RE: Landscape assessment- 7560 Fernmar Road, Lantzville
We were given a tour on July 21 2011 of the Urban Agricultural operation on 7560 Fernmar Road in Lantzville. During the two hour tour there was much dialogue revolving around growing techniques used on the premises.
From a ornamental horticultural point of view the quality of the plantings, their health and aesthetic appeal was second to none. In my twenty eight years of landscape maintenance, design and construction experience I have never seen a vegetable planting done in such an artistic way. The use of foliage alone is such that it would rival most professionals.
Prior to our visit we had images rolling through our heads, based on the mayor and councils comments, of a rough farm that with raw manure and wood chips piles high. In fact I was worried my 79 year old mother might have some difficulties walking around the farm as she joined us.
My preconceived vision of the farm could not have been further from the truth. The bulk of the vegetables are grown in a random ornamental fashion , which is very appealing to the eye. I cannot stress enough that the garden is clean, virtually free of weeds, and full of both bird and insect life. A pond within the planting adds yet another feature and is in place to take rainfall runoff and help recharge the property owners shallow well.
Several of the main crops, garlic and potatoes are not even watered. The remaining crops get hand watering or slow drip irrigation which conserves water. The property owners have also installed two storage tanks to capture the rainwater which comes off the residence roof.
The extensive use of organic matter is evident. All the compost material I witnessed was well composted and free from odor. No raw manure was visible on the site. The extensive use of mainly wood chips (from local tree service companies) is what gives this farm its advantage from a nutrient, and water conservation stand point.
The only area on concern that we witnessed was a 25-30m portion of their property line were wood chips had been elevated above the original grade. This could easily be rectified by stabilizing the slope by either creating a max 2:1 slope and vegetating with a Coastal reclamation mix, or retaining with rock, allen block or one of many additional options.
In summery we witnessed a landscape which recycles not only wood from local tree service companies but saves an incredible amount of water using roof water capture. We found their vegetable plantings enviable from a health and vigor perspective and an aesthetic perspective. We wish our vegetables looked this good.
This farm is an example of how to cultivate vegetables in a totally appropriate manner within a residential setting. It has a wonderful flow of pathways and great use of berms to give is a very pleasing undulation.
Jamie and Angela Wallace
From the Nanaimo News Bulletin by Wrenna Robertson (Read the whole thing HERE)
Dirk and Nicole have been farming in violation of a zoning bylaw, which states that residentially zoned property cannot be used for agricultural purposes.
While many cities in North America (including Vancouver and Victoria) have amended their bylaws to support urban agriculture as a legal home-based business, the small community of 3,500 residents north of Nanaimo has not. When Becker acquired the property in 1999, it was stripped bare, the previous owner having mined the land to sell off soil, then sand, and finally gravel, reducing the level of the property by four feet. The land has been painstakingly restored by Becker (joined by Shaw in 2006), one wheelbarrow at a time.
It now stands as an oasis, a model of urban agriculture and organic farming. It utterly teems with life, and absolutely sustains life.
December 13 2010
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
I am writing to you regarding your recent actions taken against the agricultural activities of Mr Dirk Becker of 7560 Fernmar Rd, Lantzville, BC.. The conflict between the intentions of Mr. Becker and the existing land use regulatory framework of the Regional District of Nanaimo is not unusual – in fact such issues are occurring with increasing regularity in municipalities throughout British Columbia, Canada and the United States. All of these conflicts reflect the fact that a growing population of citizens has already shifted their thinking and practises with respect to growing food within or around urban areas and municipal governments are playing “catch up” to this reality.
As a professional consultant in the area of urban agriculture, I have had the good fortune of participating in the examination and/or revision of a variety of municipal ordinances relating to the practice of agricultural activities in urban areas. The trend in Canada is clear: cities from Toronto, to Edmonton, to Vancouver and many, many others in Canada are actively addressing their regulatory frameworks with respect to urban agriculture with the intent of updating by-laws, that in many case go back to the post war period of the 1950’s, to facilitate the growing of food in and around urban areas. The appropriate practise of urban agriculture is seen to have many benefits to cities including an increase in food security and health, increased economic activity, increased biodiversity, increased agricultural literacy, and numerous environmental benefits such as carbon sequestration, organic materials waste absorption and land reclamation.
The world’s population is increasingly urban. The pressures on the global food system are steadily growing. Consumers are demanding more locally and sustainably produced food. Small scale urban farming enterprises are emerging in cities around the world in response to this changing context. Such a development should be embraced and supported by municipal administrations who are prepared to take leadership on these issues.
Without a doubt there is much work to be done to create the appropriate policy frameworks for supporting this new era of the integration of food production with urban settings. There is no doubt in my mind, nor in the minds of academics and other professionals involved in urban agriculture world wide, that this trend is here to stay. I wish you the best success in addressing your own regulatory structures to meet the needs of the urban agriculture sector. Please do not hesitate to be in touch with me if I can support efforts in any way whatsoever.
Cc Dirk Becker
The Urban Farmer www.theurbanfarmer.ca
Natural, Sustainable and Edible Landscapes