Our Scattered Farms and the ALR
With some data from: Vancouver Sun November 16, 2013.
Historically, only five per cent of lands in British Columbia are locked in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Much of BC is mountainous. The largest blocks of arable land are concentrated around the Fraser, Kootenay, Columbia, Skeena and Peace River basins. Even though this is only 5% of all land, it is still a lot of arable land. 4,621,699 hectares.
So the simple answer is Yes. On a hectare one can not only grow enough vegetables and grains to feed a family of four, one can keep a cow or two or some sheep, goats, pigs. Some feel you can make a good living from a single acre in a market garden. http://www.articlesnatch.com/Article/How-to-Become-Self-Sufficient-on-One-Acre-of-Ground/383835
Unfortunately, for every one to get to “their” acre would not be easy. The land is in the north and the people are in the south. So let’s look first at the regions.
So let’s look first at the regions. SIX REGIONS BY A CHART (from the ALC):
Region ALR Area (hectares)* ALR Area (percent) PER ACRE
North 2,210,783 49% …. $44.85
Interior 1,528,968 33% … $28.20
Island 116,207 2% …$1,083.00
Okanagan 224,977 5% …$811.42 plus $320 (wine tourism)
Kootenay 392,557 8% …$24.60
South Coast 148,207 3% …$5,140 (Van) $5,866 (FV)
Total 4,621,699 100%
1. The North includes large blocks of agricultural land clustered around Fort St. John and Prince George. Half of B.C.’s ALR land is in the North, producing alfalfa, beef cattle and most of B.C.’s wheat, barley and canola Peace River Regional District Total ALR land 1,288,967 ha Prime agricultural land 482,000 ha Forage/pasture 339,848 ha Gross farm receipts $144.4 million.
GROSS RECEIPTS PER ACRE: $44.85.
2. The Interior extends from the arid rangelands of Nicola Valley to the rainforests of Bella Bella on the Central Coast. Crops under cultivation are mainly cereal grains such as wheat, oats and barley and feed crops such as alfalfa. Cariboo Regional District Total area in ALR 935,629 ha Total area farmed 486,079 ha Area in crops 54,123 ha Area in pasture 352,000 ha Farm gate receipts $66 million.
GROSS RECEIPTS PER ACRE: $28.20.
3. Vancouver Island. The Island has several significant fertile valleys and was, a century ago, nearly food self-sufficient. Today, much of the arable land is not farmed. While large-scale farms are increasingly profitable, agricultural activity in Cowichan Valley particularly is limited by a lack of irrigation.
3.a Cowichan Valley Regional District Total arable land 32,830 ha. Total land in ALR 17,719 ha. Land being farmed 11,559 ha. Land under irrigation 2,465 ha Gross farm receipts $48 million.
GROSS RECEIPTS PER ACRE: $1083.60
4. Okanagan Valley Blessed with water, sunshine and warm summer temperatures, it is ideal for crops from tree fruits to vegetables and vineyards. The vast majority of ALR land in the region is rangeland for cattle. The valley also has a growing food processing industry.
North Okanagan, Central Okanagan and Okanagan Similkameen regional districts. Total area in the ALR 175,002 ha. Alfalfa, hay, field crops 27,000 ha Fruits, grapes, nuts and berries 9,402 ha Gross farm receipts $355 million.
GROSS RECEIPTS PER ALR ACRE: $811.42
Okanagan Wine tourism receipts $140 million. GROSS WINE TOURISM RECEIPTS PER ACRE: $320.
5. Kootenay. Once home to a significant cattle industry, the region has had that business decline over the past decade. About 45 per cent of the land in the ALR is Class 5 and 6, unsuitable for crops. A short growing season and frequent drought limit the range of potential crops.
East Kootenay Regional District Total land in ALR 265,910 ha Field crops and hay 10,757 ha Not cultivated 57,940 ha Crown/grazing leases 157,008 ha Gross farm receipts $16 million.
GROSS RECEIPTS PER ACRE: $24.06
6. South Coast This includes the high-value agricultural lands in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the Pemberton Valley. More than 200 different crops are grown in the region, which is by far the most productive in B.C.
6.1 Metro Vancouver It produces 27 per cent of B.C. total gross farm receipts in 1.5 per cent of the land base. Main crops are field vegetables and berries. Total land in ALR 61,228 ha Cultivated 24,749 ha Pasture 7,325 ha Woods/wetlands 3,266 ha Farms smaller than four hectares: 49% Gross farm receipts $789 million.
GROSS RECEIPTS PER ACRE: $5,154.50
6.2 Fraser Valley It produces dozens of commodities, but especially dairy, corn, greenhouse vegetables, poultry, berries and flowers.
Total land in ALR 75,000 ha. Cultivated 63,838 ha Gross farm receipts $1.1 billion
GROSS RECEIPTS PER ACRE: $5,866.66