Thanksgiving with the Lands’ extended family

 The Garden City Lands, 136 acres of green wetland farmland besieged by land speculators, are a gift of nature in the midst of the Richmond, B.C., community. For many who live or work in Richmond, they are a daily visual reminder of what we need to value and pass on. But some of us have never seen the Lands and still gladly pitch in. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we give thanks for the Lands’ extended family in Bella Coola, Salt Spring, the Skagit Valley, Mississauga, Basil-Landschaft, and everywhere else around the globe that support has come from. 

Wendy Holm, P.Ag. , of Bowen Island, B.C., is a representative example. Wendy is a consulting agrologist with an incredible resumé and a strong belief in urban agriculture. When the Garden City Lands public hearings began in the Richmond Council chambers in May, Wendy was first in line for the speakers’ list. The applicants to exclude the Lands from the ALR then went on a filibuster, preventing the public from speaking for three and a half hours. For Wendy, it meant missing the last ferry back to Bowen Island, but she stayed and effectively discredited the so-called “Agricultural Assessment” by the applicants’ hired gun, an agricultural economist. When Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt tried to trap her in a corner, Wendy was equal to the occasion, brooking no nonsense.

After that, Wendy kept in touch with the Garden City Lands Coalition, much of the time from Cuba, where she has led the Canada-Cuba farmer-to-farmer project for the past decade. Wendy is also a writer, and she sent the Agricultural Land Commission this well-reasoned response to the ALR-exclusion application. While she was at it, she sent the Vancouver Sun this op-ed piece about the Garden City Lands issue. It was published on Sept. 22, and the readers must have liked it, since lots of people responded to an online poll about it. Over 95 percent voted in favour of keeping the Lands for agriculture.

It’s hard to pay tribute to all of us out there beyond Richmond, so I hope that recognizing Wendy, a representative example, is an adequate start. As our success grows, much of the credit can rightly be shared far and wide—with the Lands’ extended family.




  1. 1

    I read this while listening to Margaret Visser discussing “saying thank you” on Saturday morning CBC. How other societies gift as a way of establishing a relationship. How “thank you” is always a gift back, again to maintain and deepen the relationship.  “Thanksgiving with the Lands’ extended family” is a perfect example.  These are the nature of dialogues and relationships that communities yearn for. We as professionals must defend good public policy or it quickly slips away. It’s about democracy. It’s about community and cooperation and yes, that O-word, change. If you have the capacity, you have the responsibility. I am humbled by the very kind words, but as a professional I only stepped up to plate as I am trained to do.

  2. 2

    It is absurd to be developing subdivisions on Agricultural land or potential Agricultural land that is in Vancouv’s back Door. With the twin problems of unsafe food coming from China, amongst other countries, and the increasing cost of transportation, It is really important to preserve the land for future generations, if not for our own immediate needs. There has been way too much land removed fromAgriculture and pristine natural habitat for Animals , Birds and Insects and trhe opportunity for city folks to learn from and enjoy. Keith W

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