Residents of Pitt Meadows want farmland to be protected from industrial and residential use in the next 10 years. This is one of the many initial findings of the Agricultural Plan report which was presented to city council on Tuesday.
The engagement summary report data was collected through interviews, agriculture and agri-food sector surveys, community surveys, community events and open house events between May to June 2023.
One question in the community survey asked residents “In your ideal world, what does agriculture in Pitt Meadows look like in 10 years?” out of the 53 responses received, more than half (59 per cent) said that they want to ensure farmland is protected from becoming commercial or residential.
More than a third of the respondents expressed that they want to see an increase in availability and diversity of local food products in the next 10 years.
The report builds on the 2021 Census of Agriculture which gives a snapshot of the local agriculture sector.
According to the census, there are 140 farms in Pitt Meadows, 86 per cent of which are under 28 hectares and blueberries are the most common crop, grown across 74 farms, making up a total of 1,335 hectares. Cranberries make up 861 hectares, grown across eight farms.
According to data collected from the agriculture and agri-food sector survey, there are 215 farm operators in the city with an average age of 58.2 years and the city’s agriculture sector employed 692 farm workers in 2021
Other than farming, notable agricultural sectors in the area include 15 nursery production farms, seven dairy production farms, six equine and horse production farms and two vertical farm operations in the community.
The community survey received 75 responses and results indicate that 36 per cent of respondents purchase locally grown foods weekly while 30 per cent do so once a month.
The convenience and availability of locally grown products would encourage 52 out of 60 respondents to buy locally grown foods, data shows.
Proximity to active farms allows residents to benefit from purchasing fresh produce and agricultural products.
Data collected so far will be used to create a draft Agricultural Plan which is expected to be presented between late September to October 2023.
The final Agricultural Plan is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2023.