About Us

About Us

Innovation from field to fork to achieve resilient, thriving, and socially just food systems for all.

The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm (CSFS) is a research centre and local-to-global food hub working towards a more sustainable, food-secure future.

Our living laboratory is committed to finding solutions to local and global challenges facing food systems sustainability.

About the UBC Farm

The UBC Farm is the Centre for Sustainable Food System’s main teaching and learning space. A 24-hectare integrated production farm, the UBC Farm is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people. Situated within a 90-year-old coastal hemlock forest, the UBC Farm comprises cultivated annual crop fields, perennial hedgerows and orchards, pasture, teaching gardens, and forest stands. All 24 hectares of the UBC Farm are organically managed, and UBC Farm produce is certified organic through NOOA. We cultivate over 200 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and also feature honey beehives and egg-laying, open-pasture hens.

Global and Local Challenges

CSFS is responding to a global food system facing major challenges: By 2050, the human population is forecast to surpass 9 billion people, and global food demand will increase by 70 per cent if current consumption trajectories continue1. All aspects of food security are affected by climate change: heat and water stress could reduce crop yields by 25 per cent between 2030 and 20492. Nearly 24 per cent of global land area is undergoing degradation, and almost one fifth of degrading land is arable cropland3. Increases in yield, cultivated areas, and irrigation to address global risks to food systems are only possible through significant investments in agricultural research and new food production techniques.4

More locally the food system is facing issues of protection of agricultural land. Currently only 2.6 million of the 4.7 million hectares of Agricultural Land Reserve in British Columbia is actively farmed5, and issues of agricultural land conversion into market development, an aging farming demographic, and economic barriers facing new farmers are local trends that are seen and felt in many regions both in BC and internationally.

In response to these challenges, CSFS is supporting the development of innovations in agroecosystem management for food security and ecosystem services, while honouring, respecting, and protecting diverse ecosystems and knowledge pathways within Indigenous and agrarian food systems.

 
   

Vision, Guiding Principles, and Equity Statement

Innovation from field to fork to achieve resilient, thriving, and socially just food systems for all.
Our Guiding Principles help guide decision-making at CSFS and inform the direction of our programming and activities.

  • Support novel & open-access research opportunities.
  • Advance experiential education and training opportunities for diverse communities.
  • Increase access to skills and knowledge of agro-ecological food production and food literacy on and off campus.
  • Support food justice efforts that work towards an equitable and sustainable food system for all.
  • Support Indigenous knowledge pathways and land & food sovereignty.

As a member of the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA), we support and subscribe to the SAEA's Equity Statement.

"As an organization whose mission is grounded in higher education, SAEA acknowledges and endorses teaching and learning as a vital means to overcoming systems of oppression. Principles and practices that SAEA promotes include: Actively confronting racism and patriarchy in teaching, research, and the design of educational programs and institutions... [read more]"

 

Strategic Plan and Annual Reports

Our Strategic Plan (2016-2020) outlines key priorities for the CSFS to increase research productivity, improve our teaching infrastructure and develop new frontiers in knowledge mobilization and community engagement leading to sustainable, thriving food systems for all.

Our Annual Reports capture the achievements and activities of our diverse programs and the milestones we have reached as an organization.

The founding vision for the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm is encompassed in Cultivating Place, a strategic academic plan authored by the South Campus Academic Planning Committee in 2010.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

The UBC Farm is located on the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC), on the unceded ancestral territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people.

A vision for a new integrated farm system on campus was first proposed by UBC students in 2000. After a decade of uncertainty regarding its long-term future, the UBC Farm embarked upon a new academic plan in 2010 called Cultivating Place, with commitments from the university to retain the integrated farm system as a land-based academic facility. In 2011, as a result of this plan, the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems was created to be a research and teaching centre with a global reach that encompasses the UBC Farm. Most but not all of the learning and research activities of CSFS take place at the UBC Farm.

Read more about our history.
Find out more about our research.
Find out more about learning opportunities.

The UBC Farm sells produce through diversified avenues including: our Farm Markets, our CSA Program, and wholesale. Our produce sales directly support the educational programming and research activities of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm.

All 24 hectares of the UBC Farm are under organic management. All our produce is grown according to British Columbia Certified Organic Management Standards, and on May 1, 2016, the UBC Farm became certified organic through NOOA.

At UBC Farm, organic agriculture means that we rotate our crops to balance nutrients in the soil and discourage pests and disease. We use compost and green manure (cover crops) to add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil, suppress weeds, and prevent drought and soil erosion. We use beneficial insects or mechanical and manual methods to control pests and weeds, and we ensure animals have access to outdoors: fresh air, sun and access to pasture are essential for their health. Stop by to visit the Farm or join us for a tour (free tours meet at noon at our Saturday UBC Farm Farmers' Market) to learn more and see organic agriculture in action!

Read more about organic at thinkcanadaorganic.ca

The construction project currently happening by the entrance of the UBC Farm has long been planned for, and it will not impact the boundaries or activities of the Farm. For details on current and future development projects happening in the Wesbrook and Stadium neighbourhoods consult UBC Campus and Community Planning.

For current and past research project, researcher profiles, and opportunities to collaborate, see our Research page.

Research is an integral part of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm and we wanted to make sure we could continue collaborating and innovating when we chose to become certified organic. Thankfully, the organic standards have exemptions for research that allow us to navigate this without compromising our organic status. This can help grow the organic community, provide much-needed research into organic practices, and continue to shape organic food systems locally and globally.

Chickens

The UBC Farm maintains seasonal flocks of free-range laying hens that are integrated into the Farm’s crop rotation and are part of a number of research projects. UBC Farm eggs are certified organic, which means we follow the Canadian Organic Standards and Regulations in caring for our chickens and their eggs. This includes guidance on how to source, breed, feed, transport, and handle the chickens as well as how to care for their health, their living conditions, and manage both pests and manure. Our chickens not only provide fresh eggs for sale but also help manage pests in our field, deliver nitrogen-rich manure to our fields as part of our crop rotation, and provide a great learning opportunity for UBC students and community members who come through the Farm.

Other animals and insects

Honeybee hives are maintained on site. The UBC Farm was also pleased to host two Belted Galloway cattle during part of the 2010 and 2011 growing seasons. Beyond domestic livestock, however, the Farm teems with wildlife biodiversity. By actively managing a diversity of habitat types with a strong emphasis on biodiversity and agroforestry, the Farm supports an amazing population of birds, insects, amphibians, and reptiles, as well as small and large mammals.

In agriculture, time is money. Because organic farms avoid the synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and growth hormones used by many non-organic farms, we typically require much more labour (paid staff time) to produce and care for our crops, for example through pulling weeds by hand or with tools rather than by spraying herbicides. In Canada, subsidies exist that currently favour large-scale and non-organic farms; this is a great opportunity to lobby local and federal government to help support organic farmers more!

When people ask “Why is organic so expensive?” a great question to follow up with is: “Why is non-organic food so cheap?” Somewhere down the chain, some costs are being externalized, such as underpaid labourers or ecosystem services that are not being nourished and regenerated – for example, the depletion of nutrients in the soil without building them back up over time. At the UBC Farm, we are constantly assessing our prices to ensure we are matching the organic community and offering the fairest price we can while covering our own costs; while we understand that not everyone can afford organic, we want to help grow food systems in the future where there are less barriers for people to access organic food.

Thanks to the UBC Student’s Sustainable Food Access Fund, we are now able to offer a 20 per cent student discount on our produce for all UBC students. Students simply need to show their student ID card at any of the UBC Farm market stalls during our three weekly markets from June-October (this does not apply to other vendors at our UBC Farm Farmers' Market or our CSA programs).

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