Kent Mullinix provided food for optimism at today’s Fantasy Gardens panel discussion at the Richmond Art Gallery. Dr. Mullinix (instructing at left) is Director, Sustainable Agri-Food Systems, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and his close work with the City of Richmond and community partners has resulted in the thriving Richmond Farm School.
The new agricultural park on the Fantasy Gardens site will include land for about fifteen Richmond Farm School students at a time to lease “incubator farms,” where they can put their skills into practice for three years to begin their farming careers. Furthermore, it’s anticipated that the park will provide a back route to the Highway to Heaven back acres for more incubator farms after arrangements are made with the church-group owners that use the front acres (on the east side of No. 5 Road) for assembly purposes.
Coun. Harold Steves, at right with one of his Belted Galloways, was one of the panelists, and he keeps working toward that. I should mention before going on that the other two panelists were Terry Crowe, who is Richmond’s Manager of Planning Policy, and community activist De Whalen, who long ago coordinated a large community garden on what later became Fantasy Gardens. Fittingly, the panelists interacted well with each other and the full house of citizens who came for the occasion.
The cooperation that the panel discussed (and embodied) is an example of Richmond’s leadership in integrating agriculture into the operation of cities. It is a practical means to food security. In Kent’s words, it also “connects people to the means of their sustenance,” and that has many beneficial effects for personal and community wellness.
This builds on the success of the Terra Nova Rural Park & Natural Area, including the Sharing Farm that hosts the Richmond Farm School. Terra Nova is a model of parkland for agriculture, recreation and conservation. The harmonious goodwill of the City of Richmond, community groups (including Kwantlen) and the public has generated wide appreciation for the Terra Nova parkland and a positive cycle of getting things right.
Like the Terra Nova parks, the Garden City Lands is parkland for agriculture, recreation and conservation, and I left today’s panel discussion with renewed optimism because I envision a further transfer of cooperative spirit, proven methods and culture of success to the Garden City Lands.