LAND ACCESS STORIES: Common Acres Community Farm – Squamish, BC

Posted by Kat Roger on July 03, 2024


Common Acres Community Farm is a community farm in Squamish, BC dedicated to local food production, community food security and affordable land access. Common Acres started out as a B.C. Land Matching Program (BCLMP) match in 2022 between Squamish Climate Action Network (Squamish CAN) and one acre of ALR land held by Easter Seals, and the community farm now subleases ¼ acre plots to new entrant farmers through the BCLMP. Current farm businesses on the land include Aura Rosa Florals and Local Roots Farm Market. Check out our features on Aura Rosa and Local Roots to learn more about their operations!


The conversation that created Common Acres Community Farm started in 2016, when Squamish CAN co-founder and executive director Krystle tenBrink was attending the BC Food Systems Network’s annual gathering. Over the years, Krystle had learned about community farming models across BC through these gatherings, and was starting to imagine what it might look like to have a community farm in Squamish. At the time, she was feeling a sense of urgency in her work with Squamish CAN to respond to the speed of land speculation and development in Squamish. Krystle was watching viable farmland being purchased around her and used for non-agricultural purposes, while she was doing policy work with community leaders to ensure the future of food security for Squamish neighbourhoods and community members.

Working with the Squamish CAN food policy council, Krystle was developing policies to imagine the Squamish food system 10, 20, 50-plus years into the future. The food policy council started to work on neighbourhood plans, recognizing each neighbourhood as part of the mosaic of a food-secure community. They were developing policies focused on community food assets and wanted to see farms in each neighbourhood, looking at food security on both a local and regional scale.

After a few years of developing these neighbourhood plans with Squamish CAN’s food policy council, consulting with food and farming allies like Young Agrarians and working strategically with local stakeholders and change-makers, it was time to turn community farming dreams into reality. Krystle had been buying tomatoes from Rebecca and Nick Bolkowy at (formerly) Republic Heirlooms (now Local Roots) for many years, and serendipity struck when the two sibling farmers reached out to the District of Squamish asking for help, overwhelmed with the demand on their product and in need of more land to produce. The District’s City Planner at the time immediately connected Rebecca and Nick with Krystle, who had been in conversations with Young Agrarians for months about finding land for a community farm through the BCLMP.

Rebecca and Nick Bolkowy of Local Roots

Fortune struck when the leadership team at Squamish Easter Seals camp reached out to the BCLMP. They had been informed by the district that they needed to dedicate a portion of their ALR land base to agricultural use. All of a sudden, the perfect recipe for a community farm in Squamish came together: rockstar farmers with a cult following in need of land, farmland in need of farmers at the Easter Seals camp, land matching through the BCLMP and strategic planning support from Squamish CAN.. A fateful meeting was had between all of these parties in the fall of 2021, and gears started shifting into motion with record speed. Krystle remembers Rebecca telling her that they needed to start their tomatoes in March of 2022 to be selling product by May, and wondering how on earth Krystle and Rebecca would get bare land turned into a community farm in just a few months of rainy winter. Rebecca famously told Krystle, who was worried about launching their project on such a tight timeline: “I am willing to do whatever it takes to get this project done this year.” Krystle says, “If it wasn’t for Rebecca and Nick and their deep commitment to the project, I don’t know if it would have happened as fast, or how it would have happened at all.”

Reflecting on those early days, Krystle remembers feeling that, between Rebecca and Darcy, she had “met her match,” and was in awe of their collective commitment to the project and ability to follow through on their respective promises. Following their meeting with Easter Seals, Darcy and the Metro Vancouver Land Matcher got the land lease paperwork ready for an agreement between Easter Seals as the landholding party and Squamish CAN as the majority leaseholder, subletting to the farmers on-site. Krystle did her part to set Squamish CAN up as a non-profit leaseholder in line with a community governance structure while liaising with the District of Squamish and working to secure the funding that would allow them to prepare the land for agriculture. Meanwhile, Rebecca jumped right into tree removal and fencing the property, felling trees and digging out stumps with the help of an amazing community of friends, family and supporters who were willing to help her at the drop of a hat.

Easter Seals leadership (left) with Krystle and Rebecca (right)
Krystle, Rebecca, Vince and Amanda

As they prepared the land and the paperwork in advance of the growing season, serendipity brought a few more players into the mix: Vince Hoog from Fieldstone Garlic and Amanda Bagliore from Aura Rosa Florals were both introduced to Krystle through community connections, and within no time, Krystle had three incredible farmers setting up their farms at the Easter Seals camp to share an acre of land. Rebecca and Nick established Local Roots on ½ acre of the land as the central nursery and food hub, while Amanda and Vince each established leases for ¼ acre for their more specialized operations. Darcy and the land matching team swooped in to generate three subleases between each farmer and Squamish CAN. Meanwhile, Amanda gathered the help of her landscaping crew to bring an excavator onto the property to prepare the soil for each farm, Krystle managed to secure a shipping container for cold storage and Rebecca started setting up her greenhouses while scheming with Krystle about how to pair with more local farmers to sell their products on-site.

After months of hard work and incredible collaboration, Common Acres Community Farm opened its doors in the spring of 2022. Already writing policy for the second and third community farm projects in Squamish, Krystle now had a successful model to share not just to the District of Squamish, but to local governments across the province and beyond to demonstrate the spectacular community food futures that become possible when we work together towards a common goal. 

In August of 2022, to celebrate all the work that went into launching Common Acres, the farm co-hosted an event with Young Agrarians under a late-summer clear sky to share the fruits of their labours with farmers and food-lovers from all over the Lower Mainland. Event participants toured the compact, well-laid out community farm while learning about the sustainable growing practices and business journeys of the growers. They also gained insight into the private-public (non-profit) partnerships that make this unique model possible, with shared infrastructure and resources. Coming out of the event, new friendships and land matching relationships were formed.


Common Acres Community Farm was created in response to a need for more, and more diverse food assets in Squamish communities. The food hub’s goals are lofty but also simple: to increase food access, food quality, food security and food education for community members while improving connectivity, livelihoods and access to resources for farmers and food producers – and, in tackling these two audiences simultaneously, drawing connections between the future of food and agriculture in the region to every member of the Squamish community. At Common Acres, every person in the community has a role to play, whether that’s an irrigation consultant, a local policymaker, a new farmer or a local student who wants to learn more about keeping bees. Krystle says that “all of the things we need to do to remove barriers for farmers can be done by working creatively with decision-makers and policymakers” in collaboration with community members. Common Acres is an example of a local food system by the community, for the community.

When we spoke to Krystle about what keeps a project like Common Acres going, she said, “it’s all about relationships, and community spaces like this help strengthen those relationships.” Some of those relationships are supportive collaborations between the leasing farmers sharing the land, partnerships with other farmers in the area to sell their products on-site, educational relationships with customers and funders or members of the broader community network of family and friends who see themselves as both participants and recipients of the food hub’s benefits. 

Within the team Common Acres, establishing good relationships has meant a strong, transparent and participatory governance structure between the farmers, Squamish CAN, Young Agrarians and the Easter Seals landholders. Having early conversations about level of engagement, long-term dreams, distribution of responsibility, boundaries and assessing and mitigating risk upfront has allowed the whole team to be dynamic and flexible with each other as the project develops while maintaining key values and principles. 

Krystle sees the relational governance structure and the community that coheres around it as a model for what is possible, a model that can be translated to government and policymakers, funders, nonprofits and most importantly, other communities. A huge part of her mission with Squamish CAN is to share that model as far and wide as she can. Krystle and the whole team at Common Acres are committed to “a very long journey of relationship-building,” of “inviting people to be part of what [they] are doing”. As she puts it, “there is a place for everyone in the work”.


Dreams spread out of Common Acres like vines, and already the community farm has become a model for other sites in Squamish. Krystle has launched a second site that will be breaking ground within the year, using policy Squamish CAN developed for the Loggers East Neighbourhood Plan. Working creatively with the area’s developers to ensure the centrality of community food assets, Squamish CAN will set up a 0.5 acre community farm in the neighbourhood using funding directly from the developers to prepare the land for agriculture. Like they did at Common Acres, Squamish CAN will remediate the soil for farming, fence the area, set up cold storage, build a tool shed, install electricity and irrigation (including a well), build a farm stand and create a central office space. On an ongoing basis, when developers come in to propose projects in Squamish, Krystle and Squamish CAN will be there to ensure food access, community land use and sustainable water management have a voice at the table. Their hope is for at least a half dozen urban farms to come to fruition throughout Squamish over the next few decades. Knowing that small scale farmers play an essential role in strengthening regional food systems, they want to help reduce the many financial barriers that farmers face in their first few years of operation. Krystle and her team are confident that this model is a way to remove some of those barriers for the benefits of having access to hyper-locally grown food.

Beyond new community farms in Squamish, Krystle and Squamish CAN are working on urban agricultural water policy and operating their school farm, which they built and opened in 2022. Since opening, the school farm has seen over 100 Farm Studies students go through the full semester program to gain elective credit. The school farm aims to give young people exposure to the land and teach students how to feed their community in order to inspire those students to become the future farmers of Squamish.

Finally, Vince from Fieldstone Garlic has now left the project and Local Roots has taken over the ¼ acre of growing space to expand their thriving operation.


Facebook: Squamish CAN

Instagram: @squamish_can

Website: Common Acres Community Farm


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Through the B.C. Land Matching Program, Young Agrarians offers support to farmers looking for land for their farm business, and landholders looking for farmers to farm their land. We’ve made more than 335 matches on over 12,249 acres to date! To learn about available land opportunities, and to learn about the B.C. Land Matching program in Squamish-Lillooet and the Lower Mainland, please visit or contact the Metro Vancouver Land Matcher, Ve-Jane Duong, at