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Lantzville, BC, shuts down Dirk Becker’s urban farm

Dirk Becker will fight a Lantzville bylaw that threatens to shut down his urban farm.

Local food advocate shocked by district’s orders to stop growing produce on his property

By Derek Spalding,
Nanaimo Daily News
November 20, 2010


Well-known urban farmer and local food production advocate Dirk Becker has been ordered to shut down his 2.5-acre Lantzville farm because of a home business bylaw that does not include agriculture in its regulations.

People can grow food for personal consumption, but they cannot sell the food for profit, according to the district’s bylaws.

Becker and his partner, Nicole Shaw, spent five years transforming their property into a rich urban farm that produces an abundance of fresh food.

They sell their produce at the Bowen Road Farmers’ Market, which the couple founded several years ago. They are the epitome of the modern food movement that encourages people to grow food in their backyards.

Shaw and Becker have protested the order delivered earlier this month and have taken the opportunity to have the bylaw changed. Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime invites the couple to present their concerns to council.

“We want the District of Lantzville to change the business bylaws to reflect current future needs,” said Becker.

Read the complete article here.


1 Allan { 11.22.10 at 8:50 am }

As alluded to in the Watts article yesterday about architects’ role in the sustainable future, cities need to promote these kinds of localized activities & it’s unfortunate that municipal governments don’t recognize the benefits of these kinds of initiatives. Why wouldn’t the city want people to grow their own food and sell it locally to others or maybe even donate some to the local food bank?

2 Tom Sullivan { 11.22.10 at 6:46 pm }

This is the story of our times and will be told many times until we see the price of gas rise to the magic number 4. That is $4 per gallon.

Growing food within and for ones community is righteous work. Amen

3 Vancouver farmer { 11.24.10 at 1:09 pm }

How exactly would any farming during the winter season help out if there was a disaster? if there was that big of a disaster we’d be screwed anyways since almost all people do not have cellars or temperature controlled systems that would preserve produce.

Dirk’s “urban garden” is more like a fraudulent business – his crops are not organic, he is next to a golf course which would not allow him to be certified and thirdly he uses tree trimmings etc… which may have been contaminated as well (there is no way he could know).

Then you have the issues with rodents, bugs and extra vehicle traffic to his “farm”? not to mention if hes selling for cash I am sure the tax man might want to come and have a look. You can have a home business and use a portion of your home, but not your entire property unless you are zoned for it.

4 Philip { 11.25.10 at 4:56 pm }

Get over yourselves, IT’S FRESH VEGETABLES for #@$%
sake. Sorry but this is on the top of the list for the most ridiculous ‘By-law’ ever. Amen to Allen and Tom. Good work Dirk. Everyone who disagrees with this, get your head out of your Ass.


5 Dirk Becker { 11.29.10 at 5:30 pm }

Lets focus on the real issue or issues:
Sustainability, Human/Social health and well being, Land Use and Growing Food.
The health and well being of people and our environment should and will someday trump any and every law. We are currently producing only 5% of our food on Vancouver Island! So before you say anything, STOP, give that some real honest thought BEFORE you go off about laws, bylaws, zoning, loopholes, taxes, sights, smells etc. etc. When we met with Brian Brack the bylaw enforcement officer in sept. we told him that we did not need, want and were not asking for Any special treatment. I am happy to stop working very, very hard for $3 bucks an hour farming and go back to easy work for $35 an hour doing carpentry. We do not ‘need’ to do this. We do this because we think and feel it is the ‘right thing to do’ and because people want us to. We simply shared our situation with a few friends and they responded how the saw fit, period. So here we are now.
We Never Called The Media, EVER – They called us. Most people by this point have grasped that this has Never really been about laws, manure or neighbors, those are flash points but only side issues. This is about a culture gone mad, where we value perfect trimmed lawns but find ‘piles of soil’ unsightly. We don’t understand or respect where food comes from, how it is grown, what poisons go into it, how far it travels, who grows it but happily pay taxes towards epidemics of diabetes and cancer and dozens of dis-eases which are directly related to toxins in food grown in depleted, dead, poisoned soil. Our neighbor has 15 plus noise makers (13 of which are gas powered). (I’m sure they are all ‘legal’.) Everything has a price – Our current lifestyle is slowly killing all of us and our environments’ ability to to feed us and absorb the poisons we feed her. Simply put, all laws must must serve the well being of all, especially in the long run. Otherwise, they are bad laws that are already broken and must be changed.
P.S. The golf course is well below us topographically speaking and we are on our own shallow well and a 25,000 gallon cistern rainwater collection. The nasty email above is likely our neighbor. Who uses 15 different pieces of noise making equipment, 13 of which are gas powered.

6 Larry Gambone { 12.01.10 at 4:20 pm }

This is utterly outrageous! How is it these assholes can try to stop organic farming, yet suburban sprawl is allowed? Guess if the greed creeps can make money from it, that’s alright, but if a little guy gets ahead a bit all the foul weight of the law comes down on his head. As for “vancouver farmer” you too are a first rater asshole.

7 Phoebe { 12.02.10 at 10:48 pm }

I would definately vote for the by-law change

8 Erica { 12.04.10 at 8:48 pm }

Cheers to those who support sustainable farming in a culture on the downward slide. It is the perfectly manicured lawns and 6 car garages of this world that are going to be hit the hardest when the shit hits the fan.

9 willow coulson { 02.23.11 at 5:12 pm }

I honestly can not grasp why Lantzville would want to shut dirk and Nicole down, knowing them personally they are amazing, honest, outspoken, hard working people, its not like they HAVE to farm. Dirk and Nicole are great at many things……..They CHOOSE to farm because they believe its the right thing to do, the only way to embrace change is to embrace the pioneers who teach the rest of us a more righteous way of life !!.

10 Robert Hoff { 02.23.11 at 5:45 pm }

Let,s look at some facts for a minute here; Dirk and Nicole have been growing and selling vegitables in this Lantzville community for approximentaly 8 years. They founded a Farmer’s Market of which in most communities is the place the communtiy gets together and grows and shares. They up until now have never had a problem with creating any negative community media. If you got to know Dirk and Nicole you would never believe the media spun lies that have surfaced. They support local work programs giving professional instruction and work enviroments for those willing to learn. As a matter of fact if the community of Lantzville wants to come across as in any way community oriented or even in some way progressive. They may want to change the bylaw and work with Dirk and Nicole developing standards in which to encourage safe and fruitful urban organic gardens.

11 Carol Martin { 04.07.11 at 8:19 pm }

Hi Dirk & Nicole, Enjoyed very much your talk tonight on Gabriola. I’ve enlarged my vegetable garden area, so learning more and more that plants will tell us what they like. Must learn about my garden soil. You have encouraged me, and I thank you. My half-area is my heaven.


12 Gord { 07.24.11 at 6:24 pm }

I live on the sunshine coast , in a Residentialy zoned area. my neighbor has similer ideals. despite the by-laws he has 50 chickens and a very loud rooster. my property smells of manure during the summer and the rooster wakes me daily.yes everyone likes produce , but its my property values that suffer. work on the by-laws first , or go to ALR land , that is what its there for.