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 teaching and 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.
The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems
The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS) comprises the research, teaching and cultivation activities at the UBC Farm, as well as sustainable food systems research and teaching that takes place elsewhere, be it across UBC campus, British Columbia, Canada, or around the globe. CSFS associate members work on 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.
Housed under the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, the UBC Farm has thrived since 2001 thanks to the UBC students, faculty and staff who worked tirelessly to demonstrate the need for a dedicated site for food systems learning, research, and food cultivation at UBC. The CSFS was established in 2011 to further this aim as the academic home for the UBC Farm, with a vision to spur innovation from field to fork to achieve resilient, thriving, and socially just food systems for all. The CSFS supports collaborative research, teaching and learning opportunities for UBC students, faculty, and staff as well as local and international academic and community partners.
The UBC Farm
The UBC Farm is the Centre for Sustainable Food System’s main research, teaching and learning space, located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people.
Situated within a 90-year-old coastal hemlock forest, the 24-hectare UBC Farm was started by students in 2001 and since then our integrated organic farm and forest ecosystem has become a key part of the UBC’s agroecology research and education as well as an important Vancouver food hub. The UBC Farm features cultivated annual crop fields, perennial hedgerows and orchards, pasture, Indigenous-led gardens, and forest stands.
The Farm is 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.
To find out more about food systems learning at UBC and the story of the UBC Farm visit our History page and check out our two-episode podcast, Growing a Farm: The 20-year Journey of the UBC Farm to hear the voices of the people who started the UBC Farm and – ultimately – saved and protected it development.
Global and Local Challenges
The CSFS is responding to a global food system facing major challenges: increasing human population growth and global food demand, the threats and impacts of climate change, and the global degradation of arable land. Locally, we are facing the loss of agricultural land to development and the aging of the farmer demographic, with the cost of land representing a huge barrier for young farmers trying to gain a foothold.
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 and Equity Statement
Innovation from field to fork to achieve resilient, thriving, and socially just food systems for all.
Our Commitment to Equity
As a member of the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA), we support and subscribe to the SAEA’s Equity Statement.
“The Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA) affirms, above all, that food systems sustainability requires the realization of equity and justice. It works to support the principles of equality, dignity, and fairness rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. We share these values with the Inter-Institutional Network for Food, Agriculture, and Sustainability (INFAS) network, whose Statement on Equity in the Food System many of our members helped compose. The INFAS statement recognizes the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability. It places an explicit focus on dismantling structural racism in food systems, and on challenging the multiple forms of oppression — class, race, gender, nationality, among others — that serve as interrelated barriers to equity.”
“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]“
Good Soil Good Humans:
A video showcasing our vision.
Strategic Plan and Annual Reports
Our Annual Reports capture the achievements and activities of our diverse programs and the milestones we have reached as an organization.
Current Annual Report: 2021-2022
Our Annual Report 2021-2022 is a chance to find out about all our programs and read how things went last year. Did you know we cultivated 10 types of melon in last year’s (hot) growing season? Plus we had over 250 dedicated volunteers who spent 2,600 hours volunteering at the Farm, our CSFS Associates research was cited over 2,100 times, and over 25,000 people attended our markets, events and programs!
Celebrate the progress of the UBC Farm since its inception 20 years ago, including the creation of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems 10 years ago and the developments in research, education programs, and food cultivation, all in the service of our mission to innovate from field to fork to achieve resilient, thriving, and socially just food systems for all. See how far we've come!
View Report as flipbook (includes ads)
Read our Annual Reports from previous years.
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.
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.
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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