Canada’s national parks combine conservation, agriculture
Finding affordable farm space amid sprawling urban hubs is a nightmare.
By Jessica Leeder
Globe and Mail
Jul. 15, 2011
National and provincial parks bordering Canada’s most populous cities are making an innovative addition to the list of activities allowed on protected land: farming.
Once elbowed off the land by ecologists bent on locking up massive tracts for the restoration of waterways, woodlands and wildlife habitats, farmers are now being invited back by conservation agencies that have come to view growing food as key to their sustainability. Momentum is particularly strong among parks near urban regions with strong local-food economies.
“We see, in the city region, a different kind of farming bubbling up. It’s small-scale, high-intensity growing of vegetables. It’s chickens, it’s goats,” said Gary Wilkins, a watershed specialist with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). “We have thousands of acres of some of the best farmland in all the country here. Yes, we have been planting trees on it. But we recognize … perhaps we should be looking more seriously at agriculture.”