FUAL wants Lantzville to be prepared to enter the next (third) agricultural revolution with the least suffering to our community as food and fuel prices rise. Very few informed observers believe that the current industrial food systems can continue for much longer. All around the world, the realisation is unfolding that we must regard the waste-driven economy of the past 100 years as a bubble, shortly to burst. The only people openly supporting the old systems are those who want to maximise their profits from it to the last gasp and defiant contrarians who resist change.
Some of us in Lantzville hoped that our community could be in the forefront of transition to self-reliance when we connected the Compassion Farm dispute with the movement towards a new agriculture springing up around the world. Instead, we saw a determined “business as usual” rearguard action fought by our district council against one farmer. During the past two years, District of Lantzville’s council and chief administrator have attempted to force Compassion Farm on Fernmar Road to conform to regulations written for the era that is passing, in which food gardening has been a slightly eccentric hobby to be hidden from sight. Like most municipalities, Lantzville is struggling with competing value systems for land use. Within every municipal administration there are tensions between those who place the temporary money value of housing before the increasing need for local food production.
FUAL stands firmly with those who are working towards the re-localisation of food as the best way to prepare ourselves for a world in which nature is erupting with adverse reactions to the way we live. The operations of Compassion Farm are satisfactory to senior government officials responsible for our health and safety and the scaremongering around manure and water safety should by now be clearly seen as tactics of disinformation. Neither the former Council nor the current one dominated by a voting bloc of four yet seem to understand what the new agriculture is really about. It looks like Lantzville will be one of the last municipalities to accept the reality of the coming third agricultural revolution. When one of our councillors is quoted in a local newsletter as saying “For someone to sell a few extra tomatoes . . . I am not sure anyone is truly opposed to that” it is clear that he still does not grasp the issue of urban agriculture. Time and again our members were publicly contradicted members by the last mayor, who insisted that bylaw 60 permits the sale of food grown on residential properties. Now the same councillor quoted above, is quoted in the same article that “everybody that grows something and sells it has technically violated the bylaw and I don’t think that was ever the intent of former councils or this”.
The new agriculture is not about each household growing for itself but about encouraging every single attempt to grow food using small-scale intensive methods. It is not about prescribing exactly how food production will be done but about establishing solid principles of health, safety and neighbourliness and ensuring that they are fairly applied. That same article refers to a potential motion “to make residential agricultural businesses legal in Lantzville”. The actual motion refers to horticulture, not agriculture. We can only speculate about the reasoning behind the unusual wording. Frequent discussion about voter apathy focuses on the shortcomings of the party system but we cannot use that excuse at the municipal level because each candidate runs independently. What voters want is to be listened to and answered, not ignored by their elected officials. We voters know that we will get better government if we have community dialogue, not legislation looking backwards.