Growing food and building a community
Named after the widow who originally donated the land in 2007, Norma Lohbrunner, the Lohbrunner Community Farm Co-op manages 13 acres of farm land in Langford, B.C.
The land is farmed collectively and leased to individual farmers, connecting them with the local community.
The land is owned by FarmFolk CityFolk, a Vancouver-based company working to establish local and sustainable food systems in B.C, but the management of the land is left entirely to the co-op.
Just over a year old, this new co-op is already gaining momentum and popularity among the community. “I think the word is kind of just getting out,” says Ariella Falkowski, farmer and co-op member. “Most people are really surprised that there’s a farm in Langford. It doesn’t have a lot of farmland left.”
Falkowski’s farm, “Sweet Acres Farm,” is one of two commercial farms using the land.
“One of the missions of the co-op is to provide access to farmland for new farmers, and so currently there’s two farm businesses leasing land from the co-op and then there’s also [four] members that lease land and grow food for themselves,” says Falkowski. “And it’s not a community garden style, they actually cooperatively grow food together.”
The co-op also helps members of the community engage with the local farm and understand where their food can come from. Visitors can interact with the land by taking farm tours or by getting out to events—the co-op’s most recent event was a pumpkin patch open to visitors for two weeks before Halloween. They can also purchase the food grown on the land, or become a co-op member.
There are two levels of membership. Both options give members a vote in meetings and access to special events.
“Community Farm Support” members buy a $500 share. The shares will never increase or decrease in value. “That’s for people that are interested in supporting a farm in their community, supporting farmland in trust, farmland in perpetuity,” says Falkowski. This basic access is a symbol of support for the farm. “They can be more involved. They can come to the AGM, or they can come to events that happen on the farm that we let members know about,” says Falkowski. “Or they can be very hands off,” she adds.
Businesses, organizations and associations can support the co-op with the “Community Farm Support Group Membership.”
“Hands in the Soil” members can use the land themselves for food production. “At this point we’re not looking for more farmer members,” says Falkowski.
The co-op is also a registered non-profit organization, so anyone can support the farm with donations or volunteer work.
Part of the co-op’s official vision is to “experience first-hand all that the land can teach us on how to provide sustainable organic food, while providing hands-on opportunities for wellness social, and educational experiences,” says Falkowski. One way they’re achieving this is partnering with local schools to develop educational programs.
The Lohbrunner Community Farm Co-op is providing amazing opportunities for anyone in the community to engage with the farm and the land, whether that means supporting their sustainability initiatives, voicing an opinion at meetings, or actually getting involved in the farming.