Celebrating 20 years at UBC Farm, 10 years for CSFS
By karen lee on May 17, 2021
Located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hənq̓ ̓əmin̓əm-speaking x ̓ ʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people, the UBC Farm continues the long xʷməθkʷəy̓əm tradition of learning and harvesting on these lands. UBC students started growing food here in the late 1990s – with the Tal A’xin: Maya in Exile Garden established in 2000 – while it was in 2001 that students first started selling produce at the newly dubbed UBC Farm.
Housed under the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, the UBC Farm has thrived for 20 years thanks to students, faculty and staff who launched the petition and gathered for the Great Farm Trek in 2009 to demonstrate the need for a dedicated site for food systems learning, research, and food cultivation at UBC. The Centre for Sustainable Food System was established 10 years ago to create a strong academic program with a vision to spur innovation from field to fork to achieve resilient, thriving, and socially just food systems for all.
Situated within a 90-year-old coastal hemlock forest, the 24-hectare UBC Farm has grown to become a key part of UBC’s agroecology research and education as well as an important Vancouver food hub. It features organically cultivated annual crop fields, honey beehives, perennial hedgerows and orchards, pasture raised hens, Indigenous-led gardens, and conservation forest stands. A place of experiential learning for students, researchers, and the neighbouring community, the UBC Farm acts as a Living Laboratory, modelling sustainable, small-scale, diversified farming practices.
- First crops grown and sold by student volunteers in response to a resurgent interest in food systems after closures of agricultural research in the 1990s.
- First FarmAde as a fundraiser and awareness-building event.
- Urban Aboriginal Community Kitchen Garden Project begins (later re-named Tu’wusht).
- Friends of the Farm formed to help save farmland from housing development; UBC President given 16,000+ signature petition to save the UBC Farm.
- Indigenous Health Research and Education Garden established at the UBC Farm by Dr. Eduardo Jovel.
- First UBC Farm in Sustainable Agriculture Practicum cohort.
- Great Farm Trek 2.0: thousands of students, faculty, staff, and community protest against proposed development. University commits to retain the integrated farm system as a land-based academic facility.
- Cultivating Place published as a strategic direction for the UBC Farm.
- Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS) created to encourage research with a global reach.
- UBC Farm land designated ‘Green Academic’.
- Culturally Relevant Urban Wellness programs begin in partnership with Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society.
- BC Eco Seed Co-op launches.
- The CSFS 5-year strategic plan published. Indigenous Health Research and Education Garden gifted the name xʷcic̓ ̓əsəm (place of growing) by xʷməθkʷəy ̓əm (Musqueam) Elder Larry Grant.
- The UBC Farm receives organic certification.
- Relaunch of LFS 496 as Food Systems Career Development placements.
- Feeding Growth comes to the CSFS.
- UBC Future of Food Global Dialogue Series begins.
- Think&EatGreen@School relaunches. In partnership with CSFS, UBC Food Services publishes Food Vision and Values Commitment.
- The CSFS designated a formal UBC research centre through the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation (VPRI). The BC Food Web launches.
- The Diversified Agroecosystem Research Cluster hosted at CSFS is awarded a UBC emerging cluster.
- The UBC Sustainable Food Systems Minor launches.
- The Alma Mater Society referendum provides students a 20% discount on UBC Farm produce.
- CSFS Dataverse portal is created to make UBC Farm research data openly available.
- LiteFarm app for farmers launches.
- Long-term research projects at UBC Farm begin on biodiversity monitoring and water monitoring.
- UBC Farm Forest Strategy Committee comes together.
- CSFS grows to 35 formal Academic Associates.
- The Diversified Agroecosystem Research Cluster awarded a UBC established cluster.
- COVID-19 resilience: programs and events pivot to online, UBC Farm closed to public, team ensures safe continuation of research projects, Indigenous community access and a strong growing, harvest and market season.
- The CSFS and UBC Farm continue to build collaborations with local and global communities, striving for a sustainable, food-secure future.