Mini-farm Project

This site has been created for the purpose of the mini farm project-a project with a goal to create a community of mini farmers in a subdivision of mini farms.

We start by defining a mini farm and providing some background material on mini farming.

We continue by giving a rationale for the mini farm project. Subsequently we propose a subdivision of mini farms.

Finally, we describe a specific mini farm project.

In the end, we ask the reader to provide feedback on the project.

<h2>What is a mini farm ?</h2>

There are many definitions of a farm. Wikipedia defines a <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farm”> farm</a> as an area of land, including various structures, devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food (produce, grains, or livestock), fibers and, increasingly, fuel.

Farms can be classified using different criteria such as their size (small, medium, large), generated income (less than $10k, less than $250k, more than $250k, etc), type of ownership (family, corporation, cooperatives).

Other criteria are also used such as <a href=”http://www.ageducate.org/news/what_farm.html”> retirement farms </a>, or <a href=”http://www.ageducate.org/news/what_farm.html”> lifestyle farms </a>.

Retirement farms are small farms whose operators report they are retired.

Lifestyle/Hobby farms are small farms whose operators report a major occupation other than farming.

A <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobby_farm”> hobby farm </a> is a small farm that is maintained without expectation of being a primary source of income. Some are merely to provide some recreational land, and perhaps a few horses for the family’s children. Others are managed as working farms for sideline income, or are run at an ongoing loss as a lifestyle choice by people with the means to do so.

In the category of small farms the term of a mini farm, or more recently,  a micro farm, is used. How small is a mini farm?

Unfortunately there is no clear definition of a mini farm. There is no even agreement on what constitutes a farm in general. The number of acres does not determine what makes a farm and what doesn’t. The size of the land is not so important. More important is how efficiently the land is used. There is a large number of examples of small farms, with acreage  less than 2-acres, on which their owners are self-sufficient through <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_agriculture”> sustainable farming</a>. Information on sustainable farming and micro farming can be found, for example at this site: <a href=”http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/Mini-Farms.html”> www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com </a>.

Some US government entities use 10 acre as a minimum size for a farm. However, this is often seen as a convenience for government bureaucrats as reported by <a href=”http://www.startribune.com/local/south/11829881.html”>www.startribune.com</a>.

In Canada, under <a href=”http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/policy/newowners.htm “> the Assessment Act </a> regulation that came into effect in January 1998, eligible farmlands can be classed in the Farm Property Class and taxed at 25 per cent of the municipal residential rate.

The farm size is not mentioned in the eligibility criteria the Farm Property Class.The main eligibility criterion for this class is that the property must be used as part of a farming operation generating Gross Farm Income of at least $7,000 as reported to Canada Revenue Agency for income tax purposes.

<a href=”http://www.microecofarming.com”> Micro Eco-Farm (MEF) </a> defines the new sustainable local mini-farms from urban greenhouses to backyard gardens to small rural 1 to 25-acre parcels.

Barbara Adams in her article <a href=”http://ezinearticles.com/?Start-a-Mini-Farm-Business-in-Your-Backyard-Or-Small-Acreage&id=949092″> Start a Mini Farm Business in Your Backyard Or Small Acreage </a>  suggests a boom in mini-farming by writing:

<em>”In this new world of eco-consciousness, concern of global warming, home business and entrepreneurship, a gourmet treasury of backyard mini-farm opportunities are being born. They range from substantial extra streams of income to full-time income, and from rooftops, even apartments (!) to farms on small acreage. Out of the ashes of the farming disaster in the 1980s came a new form of organic small acreage or backyard farm, the “micro eco-farm.” The Center for the Micro Eco-Farming Movement, there are reports of angora rabbits being raised in apartments, organic herb gardens in backyards selling herbal crafts over the internet, miniature sheep, miniature dairy cows, organic flower farms on small acreage, heirloom vegetable farms on small acreage, garlic farms on small acreage, flower seed farms from backyards, and the list goes on…”</em>

<h2>A rationale for the minifarm project</h2>

As we see, it is obvious that there is a high interest in mini farming. Mini farming can provide not only healthy and enjoyable life but also organic food and some income. Popularity of mini farming increases due to many factors. It increases in response to the global concerns about terrorism and recession (hence a desire to become self-sufficient), awareness of climate changes, poor-quality of available food, and stressful life in general, to mention a few. As baby boomers (born in 1945-1965) enter their retirement age, the need for mini farms and micro farms (in the true sense of the prefix micro) as a healthy life style becomes more apparent.

There is a large number of private and governmental organizations both in Canada and other countries involved in promoting sustainable farming and encompassing a wide range of goals.  While these organiations are somewhat usefull, they are often inefficient and provide little value for the end mini farmer.

Since mini farmers, or farmers in general, are geographically distributed in a given state/province, township, or even in a village, their close cooperation and interactions are very limited. A life in a small community where their members share similar values and interests should be more efficient and plesent.

To the best of our knowledge, subdivisions of mini farms are nonexistent. The idea of a mini farm subdivisions seems to be new. Below is a definition of a subdivision given by Wikipedia.

<em><a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subdivision_(land)”> Subdivision </a> is the act of dividing land into pieces that are easier to sell or otherwise develop. The former single piece as a whole is then known as a subdivision. If it is used for housing it is typically known as a housing subdivision or housing development, although some developers tend to call these areas communities.

Subdivisions may also be for the purpose of commercial or industrial development, and the results vary from retail malls with independently owned out parcels to industrial parks.</em>

Notice that mini farms are not mentioned in this definition of subdivision.

A cluster of a number of mini-farms created through the process of subdivision is easier to develop than the same number of mini farms independently. The cost per parcel of the infrastructure (roads, water, hydro, etc.) in a mini farms subdivision will be higher than the cost of a parcel in a high-density housing subdivision development, but it is expected to be lower than the cost of a parcel for a traditional mini farm.

Typically farms, including mini farms, are on private wells. In the case of a mini-farm subdivision, it is easier to provide common water supply, in a similar way as in a classical subdivision development.

Municipal-style water supply is very important because wells, in particular dug wells, are prone to bacterial contamination. For this reason, the owners of properties on wells must take care of their wells. This involves water quality monitoring by sending on regular basis water samples for lab analysis, and water treatment if necessary.

On a cluster of mini farms typical municipal services such as high-speed Internet or natural gas should also be feasible.

A social aspect of living in a subdivision of mini farms seems also to be attractive as neighbors are not so far away. For example, when a mini farmer is away, his/her neighbor may take care of his/her animals.

<h2>Condominium mini farms</h2>

Having a subdivision of mini farms, we can make one step further and create a condominium of mini farms.

First, lets define a condominium. Again, we use Wikipedia for this purpose.

<em>A <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condominium”> condominium </a>, or condo, is the form of housing tenure and other real property where a specified part of a piece of real estate (usually of an apartment house) is individually owned while use of and access to common facilities in the piece such as hallways, heating system, elevators, exterior areas is executed under legal rights associated with the individual ownership and controlled by the association of owners that jointly represent ownership of the whole piece. Colloquially, the term is often used to refer to the unit itself in place of the word “apartment”. A condominium may be simply defined as an “apartment” that the resident “owns” as opposed to rents.</em>

In the contest of a subdivision of mini farms, mini farmers would own their small parcells as normal. In addition, they would have access to common assets managed and maintained by the association of owners. The common assets would include internal roads, common areas (not necessarily recreational only), fencing, common buildings, farming equipment, etc.

The next section describes the specific project.

<h2>Brockville project</h2>

The purpose of this project is to create a subdivision of mini farms on a 550acre land in <a href=”http://www.elizabethtown-kitley.on.ca/siteengine/activepage.asp”> </a> the township of Elizabethtown-Kitley 5 miles West of Brockville, Ontario. The land is located less than one mile from Exit 687 on HWY 401, between HWY2 and Hallecks Rd. The size of the land is sufficient to create a significant cluster of mini farms.

Current zoning of the land is mainly rural with some mineral designation. Mineral designation is due to aggregate (sand and gravel) deposits of tertiary significance. In the past the land was used for farming, mainly for pasture.  At present, only relatively small patches of land are used for hay production. The rest of the property is covered with woods.  A significant portion of the land is flagged as potentially significant woodlands.

The previous owner of this land, Loyalist Farms Limited owned by, <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Henderson_(politician)”> Judge Henderson </a> was planning a residential subdivision (Loyalist Landing) aimed at senior citizens. His plans of subdivision included 100+ 2-acre estate residential lots, a 100+ acre golf course, and a retirement community center.

In anticipation of his development the township extended the water line along HWY2 to this property.

The Judge’s plans have been interrupted by his death. So far, the extention of the water line has not been used.

A few satellite pictures of the land from different altitudes are shown below.

<img src=”http://minifarms.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/View-Brockville.jpg” alt=”View from 5km” />

View from 5km

<img src=”http://minifarms.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/View-Clow-Quarry.jpg” alt=”Abondoned Quarry” />

Clow Quarry

<img src=”http://minifarms.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/View-1000m.jpg” alt=”Proposed land for a mini-farms subdivision” />

Proposed land for a mini-farms subdivision

<img src=”http://minifarms.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/View-North-Side.jpg” alt=”North Side” />

North Side

<img src=”http://minifarms.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/View-South-Side.jpg” alt=”South Side” />

South Side

<h2>Important Links</h2>

<li><a href=”http://minifarms.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Property-Index-Map.pdf”>Property Index Map</a></li>

<li><a href=”http://minifarms.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/loyalist-landing.pdf”>Loyalist Landing – Draft Plan by TAM Engineering Inc</a></li>

<li><a href=”http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page1485.aspx”>Provincial Policy Statement, 2005</a></li>

<li><a href=”http://elizabethtownkitley.civicweb.net/contentengine/launch.asp?ID=348″>Township’s Official Plan</a></li>

<li><a href=”http://www.geologyontario.mndm.gov.on.ca/mndmaccess/mndm_dir.asp?type=pub&id=arip183″>Aggregate Recourses Inventory</a></li>

<p><a href=”#top”>Return to Top.</a></p>

<h2>Your Feedback</h2>

We ask you to provide your feedback by giving answers to the  following questions:

1.         What do you think about this project?

2.         Would you buy a parcel in a mini-farm subdivision? Why yes/no?

3.         What parcel sizes should be available in this mini-farms subdivision?

4.         How would you use your parcel (vegetable garden, dogs, horses, etc.)

5.         Would you be interested in a condominium of mini farms? Why yes/no?

Thank you.

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