1-acre “farm” owners face jail in Lantzville, BC

Though cities across North America have changed their bylaws to support “urban agriculture” as a legitimate home-based business that supports local economies and food security, the Lantzville Council on Vancouver Island wants to put these one-acre gardeners in jail for violating zoning laws, though they live in a semi-rural area, with cows and horses three doors down from them.

Dirk Becker and Nicole Shaw live on 2½ acres, but have dedicated only one to gardening.  Grounded News headed over to the island to film Dirk Becker who runs Compassion Farm, and who is curently facing possable jail time for what he does…growing food.

Lantzville Council is proceeding with legal action — taking the Beckers to court to shut down their “urban” farm which is located in a semi-rural area, on a dead end road.

The Beckers transformed their property from essentially a gravel pit (created by the previous owner who strip-mined, removing soil, sand and gravel, lowering the level of the property three to five feet) to a lush oasis of life.

They have received certification from the Canadian Wildlife Federation for creating “Backyard Habitat” for wildlife. They also shared with council information about what they do, how they do it, along with links and videos on “urban farming,” the “urban farming movement” and the “local food movement.”


Dirk and Nicole wrote a detailed piece on these events, extracted below:

“You have 90 days to cease all agricultural activity…” read the letter from the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), on behalf of the District of Lantzville. “Your property is zoned Residential 1, which allows residential use and Home Based Business only.”

With the subsequent public outcry and media storm across Canada, we’ve witnessed how important this issue is to people.

You can help them by contacting them at compassion@telus.net, or 250.390.5199, or by contacting the authorities:

Contact info:

District of Lantzville Councilor’s phone numbers and email addresses:


Mayor Colin Haime said this email should also be used:  council@lantzville.ca

Regional District of Nanaimo Board of Directors phone numbers, mailing and email addresses: http://www.rdn.bc.ca/cms.asp?wpID=1886


Related: Start a 1-Acre, Self-Sufficient Homestead

43 responses to “1-acre “farm” owners face jail in Lantzville, BC

  1. Does anyone have a barf bag I can use?

  2. Absolutley outrageous. THIS IS NOT CRIME>

  3. It’s a “crime” to take $ away from corporate farms- they are making an “example” out of these wonderful people. Fascism is scary. People all over should take note of this and RUSH to get laws passed to protect their water rights, right to grow food, etc, as corporations are taking these rights away as we speak.

  4. Pingback: “Farm” Land Owner May Be Facing Jail For Growing and Selling Food on His Property in BC | Ready For The Shift

  5. disgusting. They don’t want food to be grown that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, pesticides or any genetically modified organisms. Why? Because then people would be healthy of course! God only knows that there is no money to be made when people are actually HEALTHY! People as a whole NEED to stand up right now. Or else god only knows what is going to happen to us. Unfortunately this kind of shit is happening everyday and the majority of people don’t seem to get it…

  6. It’s not about aesthetics, or appropriate land usage, or healthy food, or the dangers of GMO, or the nuisance of pests, or any of that. It’s about two things:

    * petty jealousy
    * power

    This is what western civilization is reduced to: Your neighbor is productive, happy, and free. You resent the crap out of him, because of it. So, you find someone with a gun, and you threaten him.

    • Agreed. The neighbours and council didn’t seem to care at all when the property was ugly, mined to it’s base gravel, and completely unusable. If the same action had been taken on the previous owner, the land would have still had it’s topsoil.

    • /\ that /\ …a million times over

  7. IT’S TIME TO GET BACK TO THE GARDEN that the Creator gave us when the Earth was Created. Anyone against this is Anti-God…
    Geed will come knocking for it’s Karmic due, so NO ONE get’s away with this oppression! The whole idea is how dangerous a mind can be when it feels someone is lessening their optimal greed!

  8. Simply ridiculous. Wtf

  9. “They Forbid …. and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.” 1 Timothy Chapter 4 verse 3 Written over 2000 years ago.

  10. Agenda 21 is everywhere….

  11. Pingback: Bylaws and Bullshit | A Desirable World

  12. if it is a crime to grow your own food then i guilty i live in an apartment building with a back patio garden

  13. I am truly sorry to hear this..I know they have a great place if you have ever seen it…My advise get out of the RDN district because the boys club of the RDN are all sell outs, your property would be a great place to put in high priced housing or condo s….really how does your beautiful gardens offend any one? …and how can there be a Holly Farm across the street but you can’t have working gardens ..I smell B.S. on that one

  14. It shows another piece of our government has been bought by the fascist corporations.

  15. Kris Van Esch

    This is an outrage. Everyone should have the right to grow on their own land. This is only fuel to my fire.

  16. Why don’t they just change the zoning? If it’s farm zoning then the taxes are cheaper. I have to do a business that complies with my zoning and would like to do a market on the highway selling all the local farms food Monday to Friday for the people that can’t get to the Saturday markets.

  17. So it was ok to rape the land stripping it of soil and gravel but its not ok to transform it back into a healthy productive piece of land? Please explain that to me….

  18. ilona levesque


  19. When government tells you not to grow your own food, we don’t need a government.

  20. I wrote to council for you. Good luck Becker & Shaw.

  21. This issue has to be taken more seriously than a single isolated incident. There are states in the US that have made it illegal to have home gardens, as well as a few chickens, pigs, whatever…even if you live in the country, but not on a farm. This trend is frightening when one realizes the power of the corporations and industries that are controlling our political representatives, It’s not all about their adding another few dollars to their unimaginable wealth, it’s about control !

  22. Dirk and Nicole have also willingly shared their knowledge of urban farming with people near and far–no charge. These are truly community builders in Lantzville, a town that doesn’t have any real notion what “community” means. Avoid going there; avoid living there; and when the big crisis arrives, may Lantzville sink into the black hole of history. Keep following Dirk and Nicole; they are the new pioneers who know what roots are.

  23. If people would look into things further you’d find out that the council DID change the by-laws to allow urban farming, with some limitations of course, and Becker and Shaw recently sold the property and moved to a nearby community to continue farming. There are legal and easy ways to change property zoning and they made their choices: to buy that land, to rehab it for farming purposes in spite of how it was zoned, to not live within the system’s rules of how to properly change the zoning, to challenge the government when they were caught.. So many choices! He didn’t have to do it in that fashion. He could have run for council and changed the rules from inside, but that’s not his style. He wants to be a mouthpiece and not live under anyone’s authority- that’s why he moved.

  24. It is true regarding Becker and Shaw having sold their property, however every other comment regarding their actions on handling the situation is a narrow minded view. I witness first hand how the two were treated and it was dispicable. A lot of underhanded tactics to quieten a couple who spoke for being treated unfairly. I full support what they stood for and I am not along!

  25. Go green/grow green.This is fantastic to see and hopefully rubs off on our younger generations.Hopefully city council will re assess this situation allowing based on property size etc.This present situation of jail time is a very negative message to our future generation whoom push for go green.

  26. I took a moment to write to the Lantzville Council this afternoon. Here is my email and their reply.

    Dear Lantzville Council:

    I’m scratching my head at the missed opportunity here to put Lantzville on the map in a positive way. The owners of Compassion Farm, Dirk and Nicole Becker, have taken an old gravel pit – surely not a residential land use? – and turned it into an oasis that has won an award for land reclamation. They are further contributing to sustainable food sources by growing ONE acre of crops. Why is Lantzville not embracing this positive example and altering your bylaw to reflect a healthy local food initiative? Other municipalities are doing this, why not be a leader in healthy communities and shine on Vancouver Island? What a great role model your town could be! Sincerely, etc etc…

    From Lanztville Council, Acknowledgment

    Thank you for your email regarding urban agriculture.

    We acknowledge receipt of your email. Copies have been provided to Council and staff, for information.

    For your information, on May 26, 2014, Council adopted District of Lantzville Zoning Bylaw No. 60, 2005, Amendment Bylaw No. 60.29, 2014, permitting market gardening as a home-based business activity. The bylaw is focused on enabling market gardening as a home-based business, and would not affect backyard gardening for household consumption, which is also encouraged.

    The bylaw, introduced in February 2014 and adopted in May 2014, is the result of public engagement that began much earlier, and communications received at the Urban Agriculture Ideas Jam in September 2013, as well as a variety of research that was undertaken after initial concerns were raised in the community a few years ago.

    Please telephone 250.390.4006 if you require further information.

  27. seems like that neighbourhood has a nimby

  28. Interesting that on April Fool’s Day, 2014, Haarper was slated to illegally sever the rights & freedoms of what appeared to the public (pure subterfuge) only to be a wee group of licensed Cannabis Cultivators & Possession holders’ rights & freedoms to freely provide for themselves, their own unhindered, Natural Bounty-sourced medicine & preventive dietary regimen, in as typical abrupt & contrast Canadian Charter!

    The ‘MMAR Coalition Against Repeal’ was organized in order to challenge this nefarious short-sighted greedy power-fest which certainly was wholly intentionally diabolical in it’s near-proximity to reference & inclusion of our – wait for it – backyard-grown foodstuffs, for one.

    A Supreme Court Judge issued an injunction in favour of the Coalition’s case by allowing the continuance of the adherence to the Charter, essentially ‘Grandfathering’-in these ‘untouchable’ rights & freedoms until a trial is complete, slated to begin in February, 2015.

    Cannabis belongs in the backyard garden & farmer’s field alike, even today, as its been clearly declared since the Charter was written – every Canadian citizen equally, yet few realize this undisputable fact. The scary thing about this April Fool’s joke was that it was also designed to harness one’s rights & freedoms to grow & have unhindered access to domesticated gardens entirely! The Feds are hell-bent on attempting to continue to try & put an end to this last bastion of self-reliance & independence, in the name of shear shortsighted opportunistic greed.

    Dirk Becker and Nicole Shaw are but the tip of the iceberg, and if anyone cares to project where this is intended to go regarding Haarper’s corporately-influenced maniacal buffoonery, we can get a better understanding & ohh, too clear a picture of how far off course Canada has been thrust by these careless & negligent Trojan Horse omnibus bills attempting to be rammed through Parliament like as if nobody cares or are even paying attention. Shame on the Reform Alliance Party. Exit is THAT WAY already!

  29. Maybe we can agree to disagree, remain neutral & refer to this all as Mother Nature’s stuff.. Staying on topic would be nice without further politically & religiously deviating from Nature’s personal account. Just sayin’.

  30. Ok here we have great people of canada who have and are moving in a great direction to create. And all over we have people putting a garden on there property what ever the size.
    So sad to see there bright idea
    Being crushed by laws written in a time of narrow vision.

  31. It’s the way of the future. I guess the council and by-law dicks in Lantzville are a bunch of old gaurd from when nobody cared where their food came from. I have a 1/4 acre town lot in Pemberton BC where we have an extensive veggie garden, chickens and a pump track all jammed into a town lot. People love it. So should they.

  32. To jail a person for growing their own food on their own property is pathetic. It’s a God given right to grow natural food. I could see a fine or a permit required. Do you police everyone’s yards to make sure not to many trees or plants are growing..

  33. Bad council decision, they should reconsider.

  34. The real problem is people that think that they know best for everyone else, which is one of the reasons a lot of the by-laws exist. Of course, a lot are also there because it has been proven people cannot use common sense.

  35. nothing better to waste our money on……??? Find yourself something useful to do, and NOT interfere with normal people that want to grow their own food….

  36. What are our laws coming to ???!!! I can see nothing but good coming from this couple and what they did to the land that the “authorities” allowed to be decimated before them. I would also think this would be classified as a home-based business but not knowing the facts . . . perhaps they are “non-profit” in which case all the more power to them. I hope Council will come to its senses !!! in this case.

  37. Dirk Becker is as political as they come. He has misrepresented this whole affair to tarnish the image of a community and further his own interests.
    There was no opposition to growing food but you cant be an activator unless there is an issue.
    Good riddance.

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