A life state gift by Norma Lohbrunner
Norma and Joseph Lohbrunner were the owners of the Lohbrunner Farm, located in Langford, Victoria, BC. They had farmed it since 1945, and in 2007, Norma, who had been Joseph’s widow for long years, donated it to The Land Conservacy as a gift of a life state. When Norma passed away in 2011, the land was still being farmed by a dedicated group of close people.
However, the story of the Lohbrunner Farm couldn’t finish like that. Heather Pritchard, who had met Norma when she was thinking of donating her land, knew she would be happy to have it remain in trust and dedicated to be farmed forever. Norma wanted to fulfill her husband’s wish that “this land never be developed” , and she was willing to protect it from the aggressive development that was being imposed in the region.
A Community Service Co-operative to build a more resilient local economy
On September of 2016, the Supreme Court of British Columbia (Canada) approved the transfer of the Lohbrunner Farm from The Land Conservacy to the FarmFolk CityFolk Society, a charitable non-profit organization who works to protects and provide access to farmland and cultivate a local sustainable food system in BC.
With CEF’s financial support, Heather Pritchard was hired to start working with the group of volunteer farmers that had been taking care of the farm up to date, to develop a co-operative that could serve as a tool to lease the land out to farm businesses and thus provide land access for local community use. In October 2016, they officially became a community service co-operative and were ready to sell shares and advertise for new farmers to join the organization. CEF also supported them to develop a marketing and a business plan, and a website as a part of their communications tool to achieve their goals in this initial stage of the co-op.
Since then, the co-operative is successfully growing. They currently generate a gross annual income of $CAD 41.500 and are operating with the land leased out to two businesses: Vitality Farm and Sweet Acres Farm.
They have continued to raise money for the lease, the loan and for irrigation and they have managed to connect the farm to the neighbour’s (30 acres), which hasn’t grown food since the 50’s. They are working together to put it back into production.
They manage co-operatively a land in trust, and provide access to farmland for local community use.
The Lohbrunner Community Farm Co-operative has currently 15 members, mostly women.
This co-operative was founded in 2016.
The land is located in the municipality Langford, inside Greater Victoria, located in Vancouver Island (British Columbia, Canada).
From a community co-operative to a regional development strategy: The Foodlands Trust Co-op
This process aimed to secure the Lohbrunner Farm as part of FarmFolk CityFolk Society’s plan to develop a BC-wide Foodlands Trust to guarantee and make farmland accessible to a new generation of communities and farmers.
At the end of this stage, a bigger land trust was incorporated as the Foodlands Co-operative of BC, with remarkable founding members such as Vancity Community Foundation, Farmfolk CityFolk Society, BC Farmer’s Market Association and Fraser Common Farm Cooperative.
The experience of taking Lohbrunner Farm into trust and forming a Community Service Co-operative to manage was replicated in the process of forming Foodlands Co-op and taking a new land into trust: the Ceres Circle Farm in Kelowna. CEF is looking forward to witnessing the success of this wide community economic development regional strategy.