It has been a week since we began our research on the Young Agrarians project we will be conducting this semester, and we are extremely excited to learn more and get involved in the community. As this is our first blog post, our group aims to outline some important information regarding our project including our group interests, goals and project objectives for this semester.
The Young Agrarians Organization*
The Young Agrarians organization began in British Columbia in 2012 and has since spread it’s sphere of influence across the country to work with a variety of new ecological and organic farmers. This organization reaches out to farmers who work in rural or urban markets or community gardens and they can be seed savers, food activists, bee keepers or gardeners. This new and upcoming organization provides online support to new farmers through a farmers blog and resource map as well as face-to-face support through event planning, mentorship, workshops, mixers and educational series’. New farmers can fill out an online survey which helps both them and a Young Agrarian representative understand what the farmer needs. Additionally, the Young Agrarians website posts job opportunities for new farmers, available land for sale or rent and publishments of young farmers in the community.
We will be working with Sara Dent who is the BC coordinator for Young Agrarians and is based out of Vancouver. More information on the Young Agrarians can be found on their website at http://youngagrarians.org/about/ or on their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr account.
*Information retrieved from the Young Agrarians website http://youngagrarians.org/about/
The objectives for our asset-based community development project include:
- To “collaborate with Young Agrarians and create an environmental impact dashboard to measure the climate impact of farmers in our network (relating to climate change)”(Faculty of Land and Food Systems, 2016).
- To “conduct research and interviews to create and feed into a framework for ongoing environmental indicator research”(Faculty of Land and Food Systems, 2016).
- To review “existing research and literature on assessing the environmental impact of agroecological farm operations… [and utilize] existing student / masters level research to help qualify farms in B.C. that can be adapted”(Faculty of Land and Food Systems, 2016).
Since each member of our group has a different educational background and a particular set of skills, we have a variety of interests for this project with the Young Agrarians. The educational background of our group ranges between marketing and management, nutrition, environmental sciences, history, wildlife conservation and sustainable agriculture. Particular to this project, some of our interests include:
- The economic possibilities and constraints of agro-ecological farms in BC
- The environmental, economic and social sustainability of new agro-ecological farmers in BC
- The environmental sustainability indicators of small farms in the Lower Mainland
- How food demand and public opinion affect local farmers, what they produce and their methods of production
How local farms accommodate and encourage both human and animal welfare
The type of food local farmers are producing- is it healthy and culturally acceptable?
- To help “tell the powerful story of environmentally successful farming operations (linking economic success and positive climate change initiatives undertaken)” (Faculty of Land and Food Systems, 2016).
- To “learn about how to create a case for the purposes of fund development”(Faculty of Land and Food Systems, 2016).
- “To begin to assess the climate impact of agroecological farm operations in B.C.”(Faculty of Land and Food Systems, 2016).
- To “gain experience reviewing literature and interviewing participants in order to build a communications narrative to convey a story to the public, members, funders and the public”(Faculty of Land and Food Systems, 2016).
A Message From the Group
Upon seeing this community project opportunity, our group was immediately excited and keen to work on it- we were even more enthusiastic when we heard that we had been chosen to represent LFS 350 to the Young Agrarians organization. Initially, we chose this project because it incorporated an interdisciplinary study which incorporated all of our study interests; nutrition, business and environmental sustainability. As we looked at the project more, we were keen to gain the experience of critically analyzing our local food system and creating a dashboard that outlines its strengths, weaknesses and thinking of possible solutions. This critical thinking experience can help us in each of our disciplines!
From our LFS 350 experience, our group hopes to gain more connections within the local food system and understand how farming in the Lower Mainland is different to other parts of Canada. Furthermore, our group hopes this experience will make us more comfortable working with local organizations and reaching out to a variety of community stakeholders. This experience should help us understand the possibilities for creating economic possibility from mobilizing existing assets (known as Asset-Based Community Development) in the lower mainland (Mathie, A., & Cunningham, G., 2003). Finally, our group hopes that this project will give us a firsthand understanding of the political, social, environmental and economic support and constraints to environmental sustainability in local farms.
Since we began our research of the Young Agrarians organizations, we have encountered some challenges. The first goal for our group was to meet with our community representative Sara Dent and brainstorm with her the goals and objectives of our project. As Ernesto Sirolli suggests in his TED talk “Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!”, the most effective community projects occur when the organization or business meets with their help one-to-one (Sirolli, E., 2012). That way, they will express their desires and passions more freely and are more likely to commit to the project and put in more effort. Unfortunately, our group encountered challenges early on which kept us from meeting with Sara; a group member dropped out making us the smallest group in our class and we were unsure if we would be staying together let alone sticking with our Young Agrarians project. Next, we had difficulties reaching our Young Agrarian representative so we have yet to have a discussion with her. However, our group is very enthusiastic for this project and we remain optimistic for the upcoming weeks. We plan to either meet Sara in person or via Skype next week and we are excited to get the wheels of progress in motion.
Faculty of Land and Food Systems. (2016). Young Agrarians:Environmental Impact Dashboard. Retrieved from http://lfs350.landfood.ubc.ca/community-projects/2015-winter-project-description/young-agrarians-environmental-impact-dashboard/
Mathie, A., & Cunningham, G. (2003). From clients to citizens: Asset-based Community Development as a strategy for community-driven development. Development in Practice, 13(5). Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/stable/4029934?pq-origsite=summon&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Sirolli, E. (2012). Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! TED talk video. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen#t-464102
Young Agrarians. (2016). About Young Agrarians. Retrieved from http://youngagrarians.org/about/