Around the world, and especially in North America, farmland is being taken over for residential and commercial purposes. Farmer Doug Visser, of Edmonton, could easily help this trend continue by selling his land for up to millions of dollars to the highest bidder, but instead, he’s trying to ensure that his land will be protected forever.
He’s working to set up a conservation easement on his land. That easement would be administered by the Edmonton and Area Land Trust, and having this in place would prohibit any use of the land other than community-based agriculture. The property includes 93 hectares in a neighborhood that falls within the city limits of Edmonton. The area is zoned for suburban development. Without this easement in place, it would likely be developed soon after being transferred to a different owner, just like what has occurred on most of the neighboring lots.
To make this goal a reality will take a significant amount of money. Visser is leading the way on a fundraising effort to cover the fees associated with setting up this type of easement. It will likely take over a hundred thousand dollars to create and implement a management plan to oversee the land. Visser, himself, is pledging up to $70,000 to match donations.
Visser’s land is currently divided into different areas. 28 hectares are filled with old growth forest, and this is where some First Nations ceremonies are currently held. Other areas of the land are used by local organizations, such as Riverbed Gardens and Lady Flower Gardens.
To Visser, it’s important that people in the city can understand where their food comes from, and he wants them to have the opportunity to participate in the process of farming. The connection with nature is something that people could use more of, and preserving agricultural land like Visser’s is a vital step in making that happen.