Entrepreneurial Urban Farms: An Urban Farming Census of Vancouver, British Columbia

By Marc Howard Schutzbank and Andrew Riseman.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The increasing price of food, combined with high and increasing rates of obesity and food insecurity, are prompting the growth of various forms of urban agriculture: community gardens, urban homesteads, and urban farms. Urban farmers, unlike other urban agricultural projects, farm to make a living. They raise produce and grow ornamentals to sell in their community, while building food literacy and comfort for customers and the surrounding community. As we look to develop localized and sustainable food production systems, it is imperative to understand what, if any, models are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. Previous research has typically focused on community gardens and their social benefits, leaving much unknown about entrepreneurial urban farms. This study takes a first look at the business models and economics of Vancouver’s urban farms through a newly developed tool, the "urban farming census". This tool reveals revenues, costs, financing, and sales models of urban farmers as well as their community connections and benefits. The results show how urban farmers attempt to pay themselves and their employees a living wage.

Keywords: Urban Agriculture, Sustainable Community, Community-based Action Research, Urban Farming, Food Systems, Local, Entrepreneur, Business Models, Agricultural Enterprises

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp.131-163. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.310MB).

Marc Howard Schutzbank

MSc. Candidate, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Marc Schutzbank is co-director of Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society in Vancouver, BC. Fresh Roots enables community engaged learning through urban agriculture (www.freshroots.ca). Our productive farms allow neighbors to explore the nexus of food, community, and the environment through cultural and intergenerational programing on our farms. He is a recent Master’s of Science graduate at the University of British Columbia, in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, Marc has a background in finance and political science, which brings a unique focus to urban farming.

Andrew Riseman

Associate Professor, Applied Biology, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Canada

Andrew Riseman is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, and the Academic Director of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm (http://ubcfarm.landfood.ubc.ca). His research interests include plant genetics and breeding, sustainable production systems, and urban agriculture.