Saturday, April 03, 2010

This is a letter Ryan Vantreight posted on Facebook today

“Farmland should be saved for farming” - We couldn’t agree more!

My name is Ryan Vantreight. I am a young father, local farmer and a proud member of the community of Central Saanich.

What we want most of all is to continue the farming tradition that has been in my family for five generations – to explore and implement exciting, innovative ways of farming and to connect our farm, the flowers and, most importantly, the food it produces directly to the community in which we live. We want our farm to thrive, we want to work hard, and, personally, I want to be able to pass a successful farming operation to my children, if one day they want to be farmers too. That is my motivation every day, from sunup to sundown.

At the present moment, our future is uncertain. Five years ago my father and my uncle had a very long and very public dispute about ownership and the future of the farm that ended in the courts ruling the farm to be sold in its entirety, piece by piece. If my father and I were not completely committed to the continuation of our farming tradition, we could have given-up at that point, allowed the land to be sold and the farm would not exist today. Thankfully, a deal was reached to buy my uncle’s share and the land was mortgaged in order to preserve the farm as a whole. We knew then, as we know now, that this deal left us with only two choices in the business plan: to sell land or to sell land. The only question has been which land to sell in order to continue the farm and satisfy the debt. Our goal has always been to sell land that is not arable, that is not farmable and that is not in the ALR in order to preserve the land base we currently farm today. And so we focused our efforts on The Hill Project, which achieves all of these goals.

What some members of the community may not realize is that if the Hill Project is not successful, then the only other option in the business plan is to sell our arable farmland piece by piece. The landscape will inevitably be changed forever and the future agricultural use of that land for food production will be uncertain and impossible to control. Selling the farm has never been our goal and is what we have been trying to avoid for over five years.

This is, and always has been, about keeping the farm together so we can continue to farm it. At a CRD meeting I attended on January 27th, I said to the Committee, "Our hearts are in the land and our futures are staked in it." And I meant it. My heart is in this land, and I long for a time when I can stop worrying about the very existence of the farm, and simply farm it.

We have so many innovative ideas and plans for the future that will connect the farm and the community even further. We hope to continue to positively contribute to our community and local economy through our ever-expanding local food programs and environmental initiatives, such as the use of anaerobic digesters to create heat and power for the farm and community. The community wants and needs farms, and I am a farmer ready and willing. Our goal is to preserve our farmland for farming purposes – in this sense, I believe we want the same thing the community wants.

So my question to the community is this: How can we come closer together on this issue to meet our mutual needs, and keep this family farm intact?

If you want to learn more about Vantreight Farms and our Hill Project please visit www.daffodil.com or contact Ian or myself directly at 250-652-7777.

Sincerely,


Ryan Vantreight

The issue is definitely creating serious divisions out on the peninsula. It would be shame to see one of the major economic farms in this region have to sell off land to all for more horse farms for the rich.

The only reason the project is not OK now is because the regional growth strategy is there to fossilize bad decisions from the past. If one were to look at where the best locations were to build houses in Central Saanich, this would be one of them. The fact that there are houses on good farm land is allowed to stand while the land that is suited for development is caught out because it is coming after a regional process.

This is also the sort of location that is too small to have been given proper consideration in the regional growth strategy. The RGS is a big picture plan with an intent. Allowing the Hills project is closer keeping with the intent and spirit of the RGS than blocking it.


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