Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

Food Security, Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project and Urban Community Farms

Location: Richmond, BC, Canada
Community Research Paper
By Sunita Romeder, March 2006

On this web page we have placed the Table of Contents, Introduction, Fruit Tree Proect Brief Description and Conclusion. The complete paper can be downloaded here. (Word DOC 689KB) Food Security, Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project and Urban Community Farms

Polly Ng's Photos - Summer 2006
Polly is a student who worked on the Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project during the summer of 2006. These are her photos. They are not connected to the report on this web page. (Mike. Editor)

Table of contents

1- Introduction

2- Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project brief description and history

3- Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project Contribution to food security in Richmond

4- Application on a wider scale and expansion of the Fruit Tree Sharing Project

5- Conclusion



Pictures of Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project Farm

1 - Introduction

The objective of this research is to assess the community project "Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project" for its contribution to food security in Richmond. Richmond is a city adjacent to Vancouver of 180,000 people. I have been interested in this community project because it has been very alive, in constant evolution, implementing new ideas and growing since its birth (2001).

Interviews with Mary Gazetas one of the main board member of the association and with Margaret Hewlett the coordinator of the Richmond Food bank as well as a visit to the operations of the Richmond Food Bank and reading documentation provided by them, are the sources of information on The Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project.

The Richmond Food Bank is the main recipient of the fruit and vegetables produced by the Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project (RFTSP).

There are many definitions and aspects of food security; for this research I am using the following definition:

"Community Food Security is a condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximises community self-reliance, social justice and democratic decision making". (Hamm and Belows 2002).

2 - Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project (RFTSP) brief description and history

Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project (RFTSP) is an organisation:

a - growing vegetables and distributing harvested, healthy produce to food banks and community organizations

b - using organic and sound environmental practices, unmechanical farming techniques

c - connecting surplus fruit and vegetables to volunteers who have time to harvest it and distributing it to food banks and community organizations.

RFTSP, a non profit organization run and operated mainly by volunteers, started in 2001 with picking fruit in the private gardens of Richmond home owners who were not able to use their crop.

Then RFTSP grew by adding gleaning second harvests (see note *1 at end of document) in local farms and by growing organic vegetables at the "Sharing Farm", a one acre piece of land loaned by the City of Richmond. Recently another piece of land Terra Nova (1.5 acres part of a 63 acres city park) has been also loaned by the city and is being prepared for growing more organic food this spring (2006).

The food produced, gleaned and picked is donated to the Richmond Food Bank and any surplus is distributed to other community or church food kitchens.

Other interesting aspects of RFTSP and the Richmond Food Bank are:

- RFTSP is also developing an educational program part of the Terra Nova project since the park setting provides interaction with the public: workshops on food rescue, organic practices, farm gardens and youth, food security.

- RFTSP wants to link with other similar projects who embrace the spirit of developing food rescue initiatives for the hungry, food preservation and community development through collaborations and the sharing of resources.

- Richmond Food Bank has an orientation of healthy food and provides education about healthy meals and diets especially for children.

- RFTSP organic practices and the Richmond Food Bank commitment of providing healthy food to the low income citizens combine perfectly.

- RFTSP aspires to be a model for other municipalities to start similar projects. To that effect they are preparing a documentary movie.

- Gleaning second harvest in local farms and picking fruit from neglected neighborhood fruit trees reduces wasted food.

5. Conclusion

Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project is a dynamic, resourceful organization contributing to food security in Richmond through growing, harvesting and distributing organic vegetables and fruit to the Richmond food bank and other community kitchens. Based on volunteer workers, RFTSP offers a model of community farm with potential for education in organic urban garden practices and food security issues.

RFTSP values and long term goals could lead to an improvement of the current model to one where more low income people are directly involved in the operations.

In my view the most effective application to a wider scale of RFTSP would be an expanded model of urban community farm:

A model including food insecure people in the design, the management and operation of the community farm, as such bypassing the need for the food bank or at least minimizing the need for the food bank.

To instill or find the motivation in low income people to spend time and energy on an urban community farm might be unrealistic given the limited amount of energy, time and education they may have. Therefore it would be necessary to create a context that is attractive and where results can be clearly identified. A pilot project, possibly partially funded by the city, could be developed to demonstrate the validity of the concept.

City planners, councils, Food security councils would be of prime importance in the planning of land use for urban farms and in the implementation of legal agreements for land use.

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October 29, 2006

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture