‘It’s for the community, by the community’
Creating community through nature. It’s a concept close to James von Broembsen’s heart, and one that’s at the centre of his new plan to bring sustainable and profitable co-operative farming to Langley.
Von Broembsen, owner of Ladybug Landscaping and an organic master gardner with 15 years experience, is inviting any interested community members to get a taste of Ladybug Community Farms at their grand opening this Saturday (April 19).
“It’s going to be [developed] in stages, it’s a very grass roots effort,” von Broembsen told The Times from the currently un-landcaped two acre parcel at 20574 28 Ave. in south Langley.
His vision for the project is grand, and includes plans for a 60-by-25 foot greenhouse — run completely off the grid — a children’s play area, coffee house, bee farm, chicken coop and community gardening area. Von Broembsen said the project will be run as a cooperative farming model.
“If you roll up your sleeves, you’re going to roll in the profits at the end of the season,” von Broembsen said, explaining that he expects to rely on community members lending their time and skills in return for fresh produce and profit sharing.
If local honey, organic produce and fresh eggs weren’t enough of a draw, Ladybug Community Farms also has plans for another innovative food source.
“Inside the green house we’re also going to have a fish farm, so we’ll be able to have tilapia and sunfish,” said von Broembsen, who explained that the green house will use stored rainwater and be heated by the gases produced during organic composting.
He also envisions the land being used as a knowledge-sharing hub, where community members can hold information sessions on sustainable living.
Von Broembsen estimates that he needs to raise $50,000 to complete the vision for Ladybug Community Farms, to be used for everything from sculpting garden beds to raising the greenhouse.
He said he wants to see the project up and running as soon as possible, but is banking on building enough community interest and support — through donations, work time and supplies — to get him there.
“The community has been amazing already, just connecting me to different people,” said von Broembsen.
“I’m trying to do everything by donation … it’s for the community, by the community.”
According to von Broembsen, the site of the planned project is currently zoned as single family residential.
When he was told by civic officials that he couldn’t operate a community garden on the property, he re-framed the scope of Ladybug Community Farms, hoping to set new precedent for community land use.
“It’s my own personal garden, that I’m inviting my neighbours and my friends to, so that they can then share in the spoils,” explained von Broembsen.
With interest in eating local growing, and the price of organic produce expected to rise this summer due to drought in California, von Broembsen says now is the perfect time for Langley residents to learn how to produce food on their own land.
“I think the timing is right,” he said. “I think there is a lot of us out there who are just thinking differently about the way we are choosing to live our existence.”
Ladybug Community Farms will hold a grand opening Saturday, April 19, to welcome Langley to the property. A kids Easter egg hunt starts at noon, to be followed by a potluck picnic.
Von Broembsen says local artisans and crafters are invited to BYOT — bring your own table — to set up at the event. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.