Urban farm stands could be coming to Victoria

In the nearly four months Chris Hildreth has been operating Topsoil Urban Farm on the Dockside Green site in Victoria, he’s harvested 5,000 pounds of produce – passing it onto nearby restaurants.

“For me, it’s all about local.  The local system mitigates most of the negative consequences, if not all of them, associated with our current food system” says Hildreth.

Now, the City of Victoria is hoping to take things a step further. Council is planning to amend a bylaw that would allow backyard gardeners to sell what they grow.

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The idea to create urban farm stands is part of the larger “Growing the City” initiative, meant to enhance local, urban food systems on public and private land.

Mayor Lisa Helps says, “This is what people want, so we’re doing it.”

At-home farmers would no longer require a development permit.  Instead, just the purchase of a $25-a-year business license.

“So, it’s very inexpensive and it’s fun,” says Helps.  “It will be really interesting.  I think there will be pretty good uptake and I think it’s another way to build community.”

Just the idea of having an option outside of the grocery store has many already getting on board with the idea.

One shopper says, “I think it’s a good thing for the whole world, Victoria included.”

It’s expected the stands will be a bit of a money saver as well.

Hildreth sees it as another solution to help mitigate the bigger problem.  He says, “The more people growing, the better, and if you can give it to the community or sell it to the community and make a little bit of money back so you can buy more seeds for next year – that’s what it’s all about.”

The City will make a decision on Aug. 25.

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