Urban agriculture education, Post 2

We envision a world class centre and programs. The uniqueness and breadth of programs will be unprecedented. The partnership will be very powerful (for grant acquisition, support, etc.) and will serve to build community. Community is the foundation of sustainability.

Post 1 (below this post) is Kent Mullinix’s explanation of the importance of urban agriculture. Post 2 is Dr. Mullinix’s vision for urban agriculture education, as expressed to Richmond council, including the above quote. The presentation did not specify the Garden City Lands, but there is no better location, and council seemed to recognize that, as we’ll see in Post 3.

Dr. Mullinix told council, “Kwantlen proposes to partner with the City of Richmond and community organizations/citizens to develop North America’s first academic centre devoted to research, education and development expressly focused on urban agriculture.”

Before turning over the rest of this post to Kent Mullinix’s concept, I should mention that the Garden City Lands Coalition does not specifically support any particular institution as a partner in urban agriculture education. (Individuals do, but the coalition as a group is more interested in encouraging and sharing promising ideas.) Besides Kwantlen Polytechnic University, other institutions like UBC and SFU could, for example, be possible partners. However, Kwantlen, through Dr. Mullinix, took the trouble to make its vision available. Here’s more of it in his words:

The scope of the centre will be inclusive:

  • It will encompass technical, social and economic aspects of urban agriculture.
  • It will serve the breadth of aspiring and practising urban agriculturists from commercial to garden plot and backyard producers.
  • The aspects will include cultivation, production management, post-harvest storage and handling, processing, business management, promotion, distribution and sales.

The program will have these four elements:

  • Research. It will address the breadth of challenges faced by the Lower Mainland urban agriculture sector, including technology/methodology, economics, marketing, and promotion. All research will be applied and interdisciplinary in nature.
  • Formal education. The degrees, diplomas and certificates will be the first of their kind in North America. All will include substantial experiential components. They will seek to appeal to and cultivate a new generation and type of agriculturist. They will contribute to the reinvention of agriculture as part of the development of sustainable communities. Such educational programs will undoubtedly attract students from across British Columbia and Canada as well as from around the world.
  • Professional/continuing education. Workshops, seminars, conferences, field days, and demonstrations will support and enhance the knowledge and skills of practising urban agriculturists. These could be linked to credit classes. Mentoring and incubator plots could also be an integral element of support for aspiring urban agriculturists.
  • Outreach. Research publications, bulletins, reports and manuals on technical aspects of urban agriculture will be produced. Another outreach effort might be the creation of a clearinghouse to match aspiring agriculturists with mentors and/or landowners.

All research, education and outreach efforts would focus on agriculture and community sustainability. All elements will be linked to one another.

Is this a good fit for the Garden City Lands? Good question for Post 3!

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