The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS) at UBC Farm has received a $1 million dollar grant from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.
The grant will go towards expanding UBC Farm’s programs and facilities, with funding going towards new research on crop yields, land use policies and the development of a new eco-friendly building.
“It signals that our community is ready to work towards really important sustainability and land use goals collectively,” said Shannon Lambie of the UBC Farm. “It opens up a lot of doors for us.”
The REFBC, which has been partnering with CSFS for 10 years, grants donations to organizations aimed at sustainable progressive land use in B.C.
As a result of the grant, the UBC Farm Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture will also expand its program from 12 to 24 students. The practicum is an eight-month program that teaches students with an interest in agriculture about the farming industry. It gives students experimental training in the field as well as the resources they need after graduation to work in the field of farming.
According to Lambie, the farm hopes to get a new, younger generation of farmers to lead the way for agriculture in B.C. The average age for a farmer in British Columbia is 56 -- an average close to retirement and that the UBC Farm hopes to bring down.
“It will help tell practicum students that this work that they’re doing is so valued and so important,” said Lambie. “I think it’ll really inspire them to work hard.”
Since much of the farm’s infrastructure is relatively old, the farm hopes to build a new farm centre and renovate some of the existing facilities with the grant money. They also hope to expand the farm to include more space for classrooms and visiting scholars.
Lambie also said that, with the renovations, they hope to create a welcoming, interactive environment similar to that of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum or the Botanical gardens, where visitors can have an interactive insight into the work that occurs at the farm.
“The farm is for everybody," said Lambie. “People will be able to learn a little bit more about what we’re doing.”