Employing underutilized public parkland provided by the City of North Vancouver, Loutet Farm’s goal is to operate an economically viable urban farm within a residential area. Funds generated through the sale of the produce are directed back into the operations of the farm while creating valuable green-collar jobs for north shore residents. In addition, the Loutet Farm offers a range of workshops and hands on learning opportunities focused on sustainable food production for both adults and children.
The Early Years:
In 2009, UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture’s Greenskin’s Lab approached the City of North Vancouver with the vision for developing a model urban farm on park land that was financially sustainable (revenue neutral). Mayor and Council were excited about the potential for the project and directed staff to work with Greenskin’s Lab to find a viable location and consult with the community.
It took about two years to find the site, work with the neighbourhood to identify concerns and opportunities, and develop a plan. With the support of an Advisory Committee of local businesses, neighbours, and community organizations, the Loutet Farm project began to take shape. As the first farm of it’s kind in Canada, the City of North Vancouver and Greenskin’s Lab had to work together to figure out “how” to farm in a residential neighbourhood – working through zoning and by-law issues as they arose.
The North Shore Neighbourhood House’s Edible Garden Project was identified as a excellent organization to manage the Loutet Farm project, and took responsibility for fundraising for the project in late 2010.
During a February snowfall in 2011, we broke ground on Loutet Farm! The first season we spent a lot of time “building the farm”. Concert Properties was the main sponsor of the project, and generously built and filled our tool shed, brought in thirteen dump-trucks of soil, built our first hoop house, and contributed hundreds of volunteer hours. Great Canadian Landscaping helped us build the fence, Rainbird and ActiveTurf Irrigation installed our irrigation system, and Neptune Terminals, Wesgroup, and Mountain Equipment Co-op supported equipment and infrastructure. We also recieved the Vancity Envirofund, which supported equipment, infrastructure, and wages for our staff.
Due to our late start planting, we only generated $3000 in revenue in our first year. We have a goal of becoming revenue neutral ($52,000) by then end of 2015, so over the years we have focused on building excellent soil quality, streamlining our systems, and learning what our neighbourhood wants to buy. In 2013 we generated $32,000 of revenue – covering our cost of goods sold! This year we’ve generated more revenue each month than in 2013!
Awards We’ve Won:
- 2013 Social Enterprise Heroes Award
- 2012 Sustainable City Award Winner