What is the environmental or ecological challenge you are targeting with your solution?:
The environmental challenge is the restoration and enhancement of rare, natural ecosystems on a 0.3ha area on Haliburton Farm. This includes wetland and riparian area restoration, creation of a native meadow and grassland, plus improvement of habitat quality throughout the actively farmed areas. The creation of a Garry oak meadow and wetland restoration serve as a premier educational and demonstration site for urban biodiversity enhancement in the region. The restored Garry Oak meadow and wetland complex mimic the deep-soiled Garry oak meadows that once covered extensive areas of the region before European settlement. Garry oak ecosystems are one of the most endangered habitats in Canada (red-listed provincially), and are home to more than 100 species-at-risk. Within these ecosystems, moist, deep-soiled meadows are one of the rarest habitats, thought to have declined to less than 1% of their original area. The creation of a small native plant meadow reinstated an ecological feature
Describe the context in which you are operating:
Land for food production is rare in BC, only 5% of the total land base is suitable; only 1% is prime agricultural land. The best farmland is near densely populated urban areas, subject to significant competition for other uses. Until 1973, up to 6,000 ha of BC farmland was lost annually to development. In 1973, most agricultural land became protected under BC's Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) policy.
Land use pressure continues for farmland in BC - in 2001, the Capital Regional District (Victoria and adjacent suburbs) planned to sell Haliburton Farm, legally removing it from ALR protection, to permit high-density residential development. Concerned community members wanted the land for food production and proposed an alternative vision of a place for new farmers to learn farming in a supportive community. Since 2002, the non-profit, volunteer Haliburton Organic Farm Society (HCOFS) has held the Farm in stewardship. HCOFS leases small plots (~0.4ha each) of certified organic farmland to new farmers for a small annual fee ($500), facilitates the enhancement/restoration of Farm ecosystems, and hands-on training in organic agriculture and ecosystem stewardship.