An amazing opportunity clarified

Sarah Jackson’s recent article about Kwantlen’s sustainable agriculture program in the Richmond News adds further insight to “An amazing opportunity to lead the world,” the post right below this one.

The News article’s informative content indicates that the program now expects to begin taking in students in the spring 2012 semester, instead of in fall 2011. From the standpoint of a possible partnership between the City of Richmond and Kwantlen Polytechnic University on part of the Garden City Lands, that is not a problem. Whether or not the partnership is the best option for the parties, it will be a shame if the opportunity slips away without the serious exploration that council identified long ago as worth pursuing. In that context, having a bit more time for it is a good thing.

What seems evident is that the city needs a capable agricultural partner with relevant expertise and the commitment to use it for community benefit. It has had that in the Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project, a group that’s more impressive than its name, at the Sharing Farm at Terra Nova Rural Park. For the Garden City Lands, the tall order is for a community partner that will enable the same level of excellence on a larger scale in a central location that is under constant public scrutiny.

Kwantlen and its program director, Dr. Kent Mullinix, have established a high standard. Before it’s too late, I hope that the city will either negotiate a win-win agreement with Kwantlen or expeditiously come up with a better alternative.

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