The future of Five Acres Farm
Harewood’s Deep Agricultural Roots
Over 130 years ago, the Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Company subdivided the “Lands of Wakesiah” into 5-acre parcels, creating one of British Columbia’s first planned agricultural communities. When cleared of timber, the rich soils of Harewood provided the City of Nanaimo with a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, honey and meats. The unique and affordable lease-to-own option enabled many coal miners to finally afford to purchase their own properties, which enabled the community of “Five Acres” to flourish.
Nanaimo Foodshare’s Harewood Projects
Nanaimo Foodshare has been providing school gardens and food security programming to Harewood since our beginnings. We manage Youth Grow Food school gardens at many SD 68 schools. In Harewood, we support Park Avenue School, Fairview School, John Barsby Secondary School and Georgia Avenue School, providing garden facilitators who help demonstrate how gardens can be used as outdoor classrooms. We have also brought “Farm to School Salad Bars” to a number of schools, including in Harewood, which provide healthy lunch options. Our School Meals Program works with schools to provide nutritious meals and nutrition education to the students, which now also include a limited number of Good Food Boxes. Our Summer Lunch Munch program provides healthy lunches to youth at Harewood Centennial Park who are in need of healthy food options during the summer months when School Meals programs have ended. We also facilitate Kids Get Cooking classes, both remotely and in person, with COVID safety adaptations.
Five Acres Farm
At 945 Park Avenue, one of the last historic 5-acre parcels left in Harewood, we have been growing vegetables for our Good Food Box programs, and using the property as a work skills training platform for our Homegrown and Cultivating Abilities employment readiness platforms. Many schools have visited the farm to see farming in action, and our Saturday Markets and tours provide a source of local veggies, transplants and opportunities to view organic agriculture in action. We approached the City Of Nanaimo to partner with us to purchase the property and run food security programming from the site. The City purchased the property in September 2019.
Five Acres Future
The City of Nanaimo will be developing a park planning process for the property. This process will involve public participation to vision how the farm will be operated, and the facilities offered there. As a lead up to the city community process, Nanaimo Foodshare is interested in your vision for the property. Let us know your vision online or in person at the farm (Saturday 10 am – 2 pm).
We see a unique opportunity for this land to achieve the best combination of agricultural, environmental, social, and recreational benefits for Nanaimo residents.
Ideally, we’d like to see the Parks Plan:
- Protect and enhance the agricultural land, keeping the land that is agriculturally viable available for food production, allowing Foodshare to grow fresh fruit and vegetables that can be offered to low income residents through our Good Food Box Program, and other programs.
- Continue to allow farm gate sales and bring the community together around local food.
- Continue to allow Foodshare to provide educational and employment opportunities for the next generation of farmers in Nanaimo.
- Keep the existing house for community use, as Foodshare’s new Centre for Food Security & Sustainability.
- Protect and enhance the natural wetland, and work to restore the “unnamed creek” that flows into the Chase River.
- Ensure that a small scale, minimal footprint, demonstrative housing project proceeds geared towards people with diverse abilities who live and work on the farm through our various employment and skills programs.
HAVE YOUR SAY!
Help preserve the agricultural and historic value of this land for future generations.
- Visit the farm! We will have farm gate sales at the farm at 945 Park Avenue in Harewood every Saturday from 10 am – 2 pm.
- Let us know what your vision for the Five Acres Farm is! Post in the comments below or let us know in person.
- Sign up for Foodshare’s newsletter. When the City announces the process for the community consultation on the Parks Plan, we will let you know!
- Get involved with our urban farms: volunteer, purchase our produce and/or donate to the urban farms program!
We appreciate your support!