Community Created Agriculture Co-op

 

 

Dear friends and food security enthusiasts of the Comox Valley,

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A small group of concerned citizens are creating a food production co-operative in the Comox Valley.   The Community Created Agriculture Co-op (CCAC) is in the process of acquiring a 56-Acre farm within city limits in Courtenay.   In the next few months we will be setting up the necessary infrastructure to facilitate production, processing, preservation, storage, and delivery of food in the Comox Valley. This includes the purchase of a farm where food can be produced or collected to be delivered to the 300 individuals or families that will participate in the CCAC Food Supply Program. The co-operative will own, house and maintain, farm equipment, cold storage, processing equipment, etc ... for the use of the co-op members on a cost recovery basis.  

Find below this letter the Vision document that places the project in its context. 

In fact, the 56 acre farm is a nursery business that has all the necessary infrastructure such as greenhouses, irrigation, pumps, roads, etc. to be operational at the time we take possession. The intention is to transform this farm into a food producing and processing hub; the nursery business will be phased out in two to three years, utilizing the current inventory to finance the operation and service the debt during the food production ramp up.

The CCAC is having a subscription drive to finance the purchase of the farm and the start-up of food production in 2018.   If you want to be one of the three hundred families or individuals who want to know where their organic food comes from, this is your opportunity.    Subscribers contribute $ 1000 to participate in the Food Supply Program -  to purchase as much food as desired from the Co-op, based on the model of Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which subscribers pre-order food and pay for it in advance so the costs of production can be financed.   Your subscription of $1,000 will also give you $100 worth of food, products and services, from CCAC - a 10% return, every year, for life.  Many choose to contribute larger amounts to take further advantage of this 10% return in perpetuity.

Please read the Vision document and do not hesitate to contact us with your questions.   We highly recommend that you visit the farm (behind Walmart - by appointment) so you can see first hand how tangible the project is.   Please let us know your interest in this community initiative and if you want to participate in this Food Supply Program.   We will need your contact address and a check for $1,000 or the amount of your choice to “Community Created Agriculture Co-op” and mailed to

CCAC
C/O Eduardo Uranga
3404 Primrose St.
Cumberland, BC
V0R 1S0

Community Created Agriculture Co-op
Comox Valley

250-898-4874

 

A VISION IN SUFFICIENCY

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The way we grow our food affects so much of the world around us: our health, the health of the land and water, birds and wildlife, our atmosphere, the ability of people to make a living wage and of communities to thrive. Two of the most defining challenges of our time are how we choose to feed ourselves and how we choose to deal with climate change. And the two are related.

The choices we make now can lead to an extraordinary future. If we invest in farming that is adaptable and regenerative, that respects the limits of season, that builds soil and economies—we can grow a vibrant way of farming that delivers fresh, healthy, affordable food while being resilient in the face of a highly variable climate.

The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of how the Community Created Agriculture Co-op (CCAC) is planning to provide safe food and food security to 300 members of the local population who are willing to consider CCAC their favoured food source. It is a conversation starter to spark shared dialogue on a proposed solution to a long-term problem in our community. We invite your collaboration as we co-create our food secure future.

Mission Statement:

To establish an agricultural Co-operative that will create the necessary infrastructure to facilitate production, processing, preservation, storage and delivery of food in the Comox Valley. This includes the purchase of a farm where food can be produced or collected to be delivered to the 300 individuals or families that participate in the CCAC food supply program. The co-operative will own, house and maintain farm equipment, cold storage, processing equipment, etc. for the use of the co-op members on a cost recovery basis (10-year equipment amortization + utilities + fuel + maintenance + operator + overhead).

Principles the co-op members agree to operate under are:
Organic Best Practices
Non-GMO Agriculture
Sustainable Farming
Food Security
Safe food
Accessibility to Farm Equipment
Preserve and enhance the agricultural and ecological capacity of its land;
Sustain a source of local, fresh, healthy food;
Provide subscribers the first option to purchase goods from the farm;
Provide educational opportunities for a diverse audience to learn about the interdependence of sustainable agriculture and conservation;
Demonstrate a community farming and land stewardship model for others to adopt.
Living Wage Compliant
15 Km diet

Elements of the Co-op:
Incorporated Community Created Agriculture Co-op
Ownership of a farm, Farm Equipment procurement, Processing facility and equipment, Greenhouses, Food Safe Processing Facility, Grain Processing and storage facility, Packing and Cold Storage facility, Slaughterhouse, Co-Op Food Store, Restaurant, Feed mill, Wood pellet mill, Ethanol and alcoholic beverages production

Activities:
Farm Equipment services to Co-op members
Greenhouse Vegetables,  Aquaponics,  Field vegetables,  Grain and seed production, Beekeeping, Live stock husbandry
Eggs,  Goat dairy, Feed Mill,  Pellet Manufacturing, Woodlot management, Anaerobic Digester, Fermentation Facility, Distillation equipment, Biogas, Bio-ethanol,  Biodiesel,  Electricity Co-Generation,  Local currency (EagleCoin)

List of Foods produced
Salad greens,  Tomatoes,  Cucumbers,  Bell Peppers,  Eggplant,  Zucchini,  Wheatgrass,  Ryegrass,  Carrots,  Cabbage,  Parsnips,  Turnips,  Potatoes,  Squash,  Beets,  Green and Dry Beans,  Broccoli,  Cauliflower,  Onions,  Garlic,  Wheat,  Rye,  Oats,  Buckwheat,  Corn,  Quinoa,  Amaranth,  Chick Peas,  Blackberries,  Blueberries,  Cranberries,  Raspberries,  Black Currants,  Rhubarb,  Apples and apple juice,  Pears, Italian Plums,  Beer,  Cider,  Vodka,  Eggs,   Goat's Milk - cheese and yogurt,  Fish,  Pork,  Beef,  Goat,  Chicken,  Turkey,  Tofu, Mushrooms, Hemp Seeds - oil, protein powder, Bread ...

Farm Tool Inventory
120 HP Tractor,  50 HP Tractor,  30 HP Tractor,  Compact Tractor,  Front Loader,  Backhoe for tractor,  Trencher,  Mower/Slasher,  Post Pounder,  Augers,  Hiller/Rower,  Manure Sprayer and spreader,  Roller-crimper,  Rotating Plow,  Subsoiler,  Rock Crusher,  Rototiller,  Disk,  Harrow,  Precision Seeder,  Field Cultivator,  Row Mulcher,  Steam weed killer,  Row Cultivator, Grain Harvester (Combine),  Grain Cleaner, Grain Drier,  Grain De-hauler,  Sickle Bar Cutter,  Equipment Trailer,  Dumping Trailer,  Wood Chipper,  Hammermill,  Pelletizer,  Drip Irrigation Equipment,  Sweet Sorghum Juicer,  Milking Equipment,  Fruit Juicer,  Fruit, Herb and Vegetable Dryer,  Oil Press,  Juice and Milk Pasteurizer,  Soil Testing Equipment,  Delivery truck ...

Sources of Financing

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CCAC’s Food Supply Program subscription: Residents of the Comox Valley contribute $1,000, with the incentive to receive a $100 of food from CCAC, every year, for life. There is no limit for contributions and is virtually, a tax-free benefit. This incentive is the equivalent of a 10% yearly return in perpetuity. Sponsors are encouraged to contribute larger amounts and take advantage of this benefit. Such contribution entitles the backer to participate in the CCAC Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The benefit is transferable during the first 10 years.

CCAC’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): the balance of food needs of sponsors will be supplemented by additional purchase of food from CCAC based on the model of community supported agriculture (CSA), in which the market price of the food is paid to CCAC in advance so the costs of production can be financed. The food provided by CCAC is to be consumed by the stakeholder and not to be resold or gifted, this is due to the limited production capacity. Purchases for another individual or family are not allowed. The intention is to produce food the entire year to satisfy as much as possible the needs of the consumer members, therefore, CSA payments can be made in installments.

BC Ministry of Agriculture: An application has been made to The Agriculture Sector Development Branch to provide funding (85% of up to $30,000) to hire a consultant to prepare the business plan to present to potential lenders for funding. www.smartfarmbc.ca

Canadian Agricultural Loan Act (CALA): Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will guarantee the loan up to $3,000,000 for an agricultural co-operative with a majority (50% + 1) farmer membership. www.agr.gc.ca/cala
VanCity Credit Union is considering this project for financing under CALA, providing that the business plan fulfills their requirements for viability and sustainability.

Why Farmers? Why the Comox Valley? Why now?

With the CCAC, we close the ingenuity gap between the food we consume and how it is produced, and we highlight the need for natural food to maintain health and, at the same time, preserve the environment and the soil.

We all know that our food systems, as they currently exist, are broken. Industrial market domination of our food systems has led to unacceptable waste. Modern commercial agriculture, with its mono-crops and reliance on chemical pesticides, herbicides like Roundup, and synthetic fertilizers, is rendering once fertile soils dead, and damaging nearby ecosystems. The associated carbon footprint is shameful. Energy and resources are wasted at every step of the production, processing and distribution chain.

The reckless and unethical pursuit of profit from “cheap” food, by large, faceless corporations, takes no account of the real costs. These market systems heavily subsidized by governments and entrenched by vested interests, force all our farmers to compete on price. How often do we hear our small local farmers comment on how difficult it is to make a living these days? The necessity of competing, from a position of disadvantage, with “Big Food,” means that small farmers face pressure to conform to standards of practice that are not in keeping with their own values or those of their community.

There is no resilience in these systems. The food supply on Vancouver Island is especially fragile. In the case of a natural disaster or an economic crisis disrupting the ferries or the supply chain from other countries; only a few days disruption would be a total disaster.  Most of our fresh food comes from California or through the US from Mexico. Any disruption in the food distribution system in the US will disrupt food supply to Vancouver Island and the Comox Valley, making our situation very difficult. To minimize this risk becomes a priority.

6.4% of Farmers in BC are under 40 years old and 62% are over 55 years old. As farmers age, good farmland on Vancouver Island is falling into misuse, especially into disuse, as it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone who wants to farm to pay the price of admission. Young people keen to farm, are prohibited by the cost of access to land, equipment, and training. We have an abundance of once-productive farmland here in the Comox Valley that has been turned into pasture or left to go to idle, yet remains inaccessible to those who wish to enter farming. The Comox Valley Regional District reports that 11,000 acres out of 23,000 in the inventory of ALR land are not in food production; mostly are in hay production for horses and cows. The Comox Valley produces 198% of the dairy needs of the residents of the valley; but the vast majority of it goes out south to be processed, and needs to be imported back for consumption. 11,000 chickens are produced in the Comox Valley every 8 to 12 weeks, but none of them stays in the valley for local consumption, the market for chicken in the Comox Valley is 50,000 chickens per month, according to statistics Canada.

We are gathering a group of people who want to solve these issues, and are prepared to get their hands into it, maybe physically, maybe financially, maybe intellectually, or all the above.

The Project’s Vision

The project will necessarily involve the participation of many, many who have creative ideas and capacities to contribute to the resilient future we so enthusiastically want to live. CCAC aims to remain flexible enough to respond to the changing
needs of its members, and the world around us, while remaining rooted enough to achieve its purpose. As such, a general vision statement has been established, including several supporting Vision Elements that will help to guide the evolving work.

  • Our Vision is to establish a community of people who are dedicated to establishing a self- sufficient local economy and personal life, as much as is biophysically possible given the opportunities and constraints of the land upon which it is based.

  • Our Mission is to provide a supportive environment in which people can learn and practice farming skills at their own pace with their friends and family.

    CCAC will be an enterprise:

  • ...that aims to not overextend itself. This means that the project will grow as the membership, capacity and interest grow. The work of the project must, therefore, remain adaptable to these realities and practice at a scale that is sustainable.

  • ...that is not afraid to fail. This means that experimentation and learning from practice will be promoted and shared so that others may benefit from the experiences of others.

  • ... that practices holistic systems. This means that the multi-dimensional nature of self-sufficiency will be explored including many different food and textile resources, local fundraising, education and group dynamics.

  • ...that is not motivated to make money. This means that Community Created Agriculture Co-operative will not pursue a profit in the strictly financial sense, but will measure its success based on the capacity it delivers to the participants. It is recognized that raising farmers is of higher value than growing crops.

  • ...that is open to all community members who share the Vision. This means that CCAC will focus its energies in its initial stages at working with people that are already interested in the Vision as described, to promote a positive and productive working relationship that sets a solid foundation for on-going actions. All ages, abilities, skills and economic situations are welcome.

  • ...that uses principles and the science of sustainability, resilience, and permaculture in all aspects of its work. CCAC will aim to challenge the status quo in its practices by demonstrating through hands-on examples how to live well with the web of life.

    An invitation for you to join us

    Each of us involved in CCAC is passionate about living a respectful and happy life with other communities, including their ecologies. Community Created Agriculture Co-op is a vision in self-sufficiency, as best as we can on the land that we work with.

    The vision is bold and multi-dimensional and will take years to fully come to fruition.  A static goal is not the aim, rather CCAC endeavors to be a farmer-generating enterprise that adapts and prepares as our world changes all around us by establishing a community around its production, because each of us knows that it takes a community to do anything worthwhile.

    This long-term vision for CCAC includes plans for the cultivation of a wide range of food and fiber sources, woodlot management, energy generation and establishing housing arrangements. In short, CCAC aims to become a sustainable intentional community over time.

    The lack of vegetable fats and protein is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the goal of pesticide, GMO-free, and a 15-km diet. Cultivation of hemp will overcome this deficiency.

    Dependency on fossil could also be overcome by sweet sorghum cultivation in the form of bioethanol. Production of biodiesel is contemplated from used vegetable oil. Solar thermal and photovoltaic energy will be a very important part of the equation to achieve energy independence together with biogas produced in anaerobic digestion and wood gasification processes. It is recognized that all GHG producing processes should be used to a minimum if not eliminated. Zero emissions is another important goal, carbon neutrality will be the next best option. Carbon offsets will be purchased when carbon neutrality is not achieved.

Implementation of the Negawatt concept is a clear objective, energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy production are the steps on the quest for a Net Zero Energy Input operation; superinsulated buildings will be the norm, hot water heat recovery, LED lighting, heat recovery ventilation systems, reflective insulation on walls and ceilings, window radiant barrier inserts, tight doors, etc. alternative construction materials will be used, such as hempcrete (for insulation and carbon capture for the life of the building) and recycled polystyrene. Standing dead timber will be used as construction material.

A holistic approach to physical health and mental wellness of the participants in this project is one of the vital aspects of the cooperative, and it will be addressed by having an inhouse health practicioner as one of the primary benefits of the membership to the Co-op.

Recognizing that not everyone can live an intentional community lifestyle and that such endeavors take perseverance to achieve, CCAC offers opportunities for people to get involved in a variety of ways depending on their interests and abilities.

CCAC aims to be an incubator of agroecological farming, help young farmers succeed and to promote eating glyphosate (Roundup) free food.