Have You Tried...?
Dirk and Nicole have been dealing with their neighbour's behaviour for several years, and the Lantzville City Council for over a year. These are the most frequently asked questions they recieve about the farm and their struggle, with accompanying answers.
"Can the farm be made more attractive? Put up a barrier of some kind between the properties?" This has been done; there is a large hedge and quite a few feet of room seperating Compassion Farm from the other properties. There are beautiful scarlet runners and sunflowers in evidence on much of the property, and many of the vegetables are allowed to flower and go to seed to provide for next year.
"What about building a fence?" Dirk and Nicole are too exhausted and low on funds to create any kind of fence. Also, there is already a large hedge between the properties. (See question 1) A fence would not stop the belligerent behaviour of their neighbour, nor stop the Council from proceeding with their legal action against the farm.
"Why don't Dirk and Nicole just take the T.U.P.?" The TUP application fee is over a thousand dollars with no guarantee of approval upon application, and only lasts for one year. During that year it can be amended or revoked by Council at any time. The TUP is unnecessary, council can simply give the farm an extension - that is their prerogative. The community has asked that the bylaw be rewritten to support urban farming and it is in the process of being rewritten. Residents have also asked council to pause on action against Compassion Farm until the new bylaw is created but they have chosen not too. The TUP therefore is not an acceptable long-term solution to addressing an outdated by-law or food sustainability on Vancouver Island.
"Is it true that Dirk and Nicole wont meet with Council and are being uncooperative?" No. Since the beginning of this ordeal Compassion Farm has only wanted to involve the larger Lantzville community in the issue and follow a proper process for getting an outdated by-law changed and updated. The letters in the Documentation page make this very clear. They have made presentations to Council and participated in discussions several times. However, once they were told in December 2011 to stay away from Council meetings as the message has been heard 'loud and clear', meeting with Council has been understandably difficult.
How much water does the Farm use, and where does it come from? The water for the gardens and vegetables comes from the cisterns which are full of rainwater collected from Dirk and Nicole's roof. It is arranged in such a way that nearly all of the rainfall is diverted into the cisterns. They hold 1200 gallons each. There is also a small pond on the property which can hold roughly 12,000 gallons. The water inside the house comes from a shallow well on the property.
Where does the Farm get it's fertilizer and mulch from ? Mulch is provided by local landscaping and woodchipping companies while manure was provided by local farms, one of which is just down the road from Compassion Farm. The mulch is not from chemically treated wood and the manure was not from chemically treated animals. There is no longer manure being brought onto the property, as per an agreement between Compassion Farm and city council.
"Why doesn't Compassion Farm just give their produce away and ask for donations and then they won't be breaking the bylaw"? At the moment, Dirk and Nicole make the equivalent of $3 an hour for their labours on thier land. It is their livlihood and they have the right as much as any other person to make a living this way. Asking for donations does not ensure that they will be able to keep their bills paid.
"Couldn't they just ask to have their property re-zoned agricultural instead of residential?" Again, this is not an ideal solution to the by-law or the larger issues of sustainability or urban agriculture. Further, the District of Lantzville has not communicated with Compassion Farm with regard to applying for rezoning, applying to the ALR, or attain Farm Status. (As an aside, they have always paid full property taxes whereas attaining Farm Status would lower their taxes considerably). Finally, if Compassion Farm was rezoned agricultural, it would likely make things worse for their neighbour as on agriculturally zoned land the farm would be allowed to have large machinery and other 'annoyances'.