Agriculture

About Agriculture in Richmond

Agriculture is an important part of Richmond’s history. Early settlers were attracted to Richmond by the fertile soils of Lulu and Sea Islands and promise of agricultural productivity.

Over the years, Richmond has grown and evolved into a vibrant, cosmopolitan urban centre. Despite the dramatic changes, a significant portion of Richmond’s land area remains agricultural. Today, agriculture forms an important part of the local and regional economy as well as a major land use in the city.

The Agricultural Land Base
Approximately 4,993 ha (12,338 ac) of Richmond’s land base, or 39% of the City, is within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) as shown in Figure 1. The total amount of area within the ALR and area zoned Agriculture outside of the ALR is approximately 5,563 ha (13,746 ac). These figures do not include ALR boundaries on Sea Island.

Figure 1: Richmond’s Agricultural Land ReserveALR Boundaries for Richmond

Figure 2 below shows that the amount of land in the ALR has remained relatively stable in the last 10 years. An increase in Richmond ALR land area from 2010 figures was based on detailed mapping and data review of the ALR Boundary in Richmond completed in 2012. The increase in ALR land area is not the result of any specific applications to include land in the ALR for Richmond.

Figure 2: Total ALR land in Richmond (in hectares)Graph of Total Land in ALR
Much of Richmond’s soils are organic, formed by fluvial (river) deposits of the Fraser River. Drainage is a major issue in Richmond, where the groundwater table is high. However, with improvements (mainly drainage), all of Richmond’s ALR is considered to be prime agricultural land.

Farms
Approximately 3,072 ha (7,591 ac) of Richmond is farmed by 211 farms. The remaining lands in the ALR are either vacant or occupied by non-farm uses (including roads, institutional uses, golf courses, etc.).

The greatest number of farms are owned by sole proprietors (102), with family farms and partnerships also common (62 and 35, respectively).

Farmers
There were approximately 295 farm operators in Richmond in 2011. An additional 26,197 weeks of paid labour was hired to work on farms.

Agricultural Production
Cranberries are the most dominant crop in Richmond, with almost 858 ha (2,120 ac) in production. In 2011, Richmond accounted for approximately 33% of BC’s cranberry acreage.

Other top crops in Richmond are outlined in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Richmond’s Top Crops by Land Used in Their Production, 2011

Land Used in Crop Production - Top 10
Crop Hectares % of crops % of
census farms
% of ALR
Cranberries 858 38.9% 11.4% 21.5%
Blueberries 556 25.2% 33.2% 13.9%
Other Hay 320 14.5% 8.1% 8.0%
Potatoes 88 4.0% 2.8% 2.2%
Cabbage 64 2.9% 4.7% 1.6%
Strawberries 57 2.6% 2.4% 1.4%
Sweet Corn 52 2.4% 4.7% 1.3%
Chinese Cabbage 51 2.3% 10.0% 1.3%
Pumpkins 25 1.1% 5.2% 0.6%
Squash and Zucchini 21 1.0% 7.1% 0.5%
Total 2,092 94.7% 89.6% 52.4%
Agricultural Economy
The 211 farms that reported in the 2011 Census of Agriculture recorded gross farm receipts of $48.6 million. This is an increase from the $40.5 million of gross farm receipts reported by 172 farms in 2006 and $37.6 million of gross farm receipts reported by 182 farms in 2001.


Towards A Viable Future

The viability of farming in Richmond faces a number of challenges, including:

  • Drainage
  • Pressure to urbanize the ALR
  • Pressure to subdivide land within the ALR
  • Rural/urban conflicts
  • High land values
  • Economics of farming
  • Service and infrastructure limitations

In 1999, after the adoption of the City’s current Official Community Plan (OCP), the City embarked on a process to develop an Agricultural Viability Strategy (AVS) in order to manage the agricultural areas for long-term viability. The four-year process, which was carried out in partnership with the Richmond Farmers Institute, Agricultural Land Commission and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, included extensive consultation with the local farming community. The results of the process are outlined below:

Agricultural Survey (1999)
This survey was conducted to gather public opinion on how to achieve enhanced viability on Richmond’s agricultural lands. Public open houses were subsequently held during 2000. The results are contained in the Public Input Report.

Agricultural Profile (2002)
The Profile is a compendium of statistics and information about the agricultural sector in Richmond. It is largely compiled from the Census of Agriculture.

Agricultural Viability Strategy (2003)
The AVS contains over 60 recommendations designed to:

(i) Foster and maintain agricultural viability;
(ii) Address the key issues facing the agricultural sector in Richmond; and
(iii) Work within the framework of a 2021 vision and guiding principles for the future.

Agricultural Advisory Committee
One of the first recommendations of the AVS to be implemented was the formation of a new Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) in 2003. The AAC, which consists of 9 citizens (7 of whom are farmers), will provide input and advice from an agricultural perspective on a range of policy issues and development proposals that affect agriculture. The AAC will also monitor and guide implementation of the AVS.

Sources:
Statistics Canada, 2001, 2006 and 2011 Census of Agriculture

For information about the Agricultural Advisory Committee or land use policies in the ALR, please contact:

Policy Planning
Planning and Development Division
6911 No. 3 Road
Richmond, BC V6Y 2C1

Phone: 604-276-4188
Fax: 604-276-4052
Emal: CommunityPlanning@richmond.ca