May 13, 2014 UPDATE: Compassion Farm has now been sold, and the farm’s longtime owners Dirk Becker and Nicole Shaw are moving to the Coombs/Errington area a few kilometers further north on Vancouver Island where they plan to search for another acreage they can buy and farm organically. The couple say they were worn out by the lengthy zoning battle with local authorities.
Read the Nanaimo Daily News story on the sale of Compassion Farm here.
Read a 2013 Globe & Mail article on their battle here.
To ready the property for sale, since no future owner was likely to be able to use the property as an organic farm due to bylaws prohibiting urban farming, the couple ultimately had to remove their healthy, uncontaminated food crops (they were producing 7,200 kilograms of organic food annually) and convert the productive acreage to lawn.
Original Posting May 1, 2012:
This is the latest update on the ongoing multi-year harassment by local government of an organic farm in Lantzville, BC on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. Compassion Farm grows healthy, uncontaminated food for hundreds of families in the mid-Island region, including my own.
Media release from Compassion Farm:
Last week Dirk Becker and Nicole Shaw of Compassion Farm in Lantzville, founders of the Bowen Road Farmers Market, received another letter from the District of Lantzville (D.O.L.).
This letter states they are contravening the DOL small business bylaw by selling rain barrels.
In January of this year, Becker and Shaw met with the new mayor and signed an agreement to discontinue the importation of any manure onto their property. They were given to understand that this agreement would appease council and were told it would appease their neighbor, Jim Brash, whose campaigning against their use of horse manure is on-going.
This April they were informed that council wants to ‘reinspect’ their property. Ensuing communication revealed that Council is unwilling to disclose what they are looking for. Therefore, Becker and Shaw responded that they see no point in yet another inspection since nothing of significance has changed since the last inspections–by various levels of government: Regional District of Nanaimo Bylaw Enforcement, the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Further, no manure has been brought to the property in question since the above-mentioned agreement was signed.
On April 24th they received a letter informing them that council has a problem with their rain barrels.
In the same week, a friend who has donated grass clippings for 10 years shared a letter received from the RDN, threatening legal action if he continues to bring grass clippings to Compassion Farm.
“There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight,” says Becker. “The District of Lantzvile has moved the goal posts several times. Urban Farming is a global movement and is moving past being ‘allowed’ or ‘permitted’ to being supported, encouraged and protected”.
Contact: Dirk Becker, 250-390-5199
Also see: http://www.compassionfarm.jigsy.com/