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Kootenay Farmer is a joint initiative of the Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors and the Basin Business Advisors Agriculture Program – two initiatives to grow and support the agriculture sector.  

Thank you, farmers, for growing and providing healthy and nutritious food for our communities. We will support you through these uncertain times. 

Photo right: Ann Wilby of Settle Down Farm in Grand Forks harvests spinach and greens for customers and the Kettle Valley Food Co-op.
– March 13, 2020. 

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In This Issue

Headlines: KBFA COVID-19 Response, Editorial on Local Food, Resources for Farmers, Producer Surveys
Kudos to our Farmers: Kootenay Natural Meats jumps into action
Local Dirt: NEW irrigation project looks for demonstration farms

Farmers Are Resilient as COVID-19 Halts Economy

Farmers are quickly assessing how their businesses can survive in the months ahead. Food distribution channels are interrupted, staff safety considerations present on-farm complexities, and uncertain supply chains for farm supplies are just a few examples that create added challenges.

Resilient as ever, farmers have been busy adapting to the crisis and re-evaluating the road ahead, while still actively farming. 

Local food has never been so important. The Kootenay and Boundary Farm Advisors (KBFA) and other agricultural organizations are rallying to find ways to ensure that local farmers have the tools and resources they need to keep farming. Consumers also have an important role to keep small farms alive. Take time to reassure your local farmers that you will support them this growing season!

KBFA will continue to provide farmers free consultation services on the phone and internet until distancing restrictions are relaxed. Let us know how we can help you and the local agriculture community through these difficult times.

Stay healthy and well, 

– KBFA Team


Article: The Thriving Farmers Response to the Current Crisis ” 
Article: How Small Farms Can Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic 

Devin and Britney Chursinoff of Pa-Van Ranch in Grand Forks brought their recent batch of locally produced beef to the Jerseyland Organics Country Store. – March 20, 2020

Cali and Brendan of Salix and Sedge Farm in Salmo invested in a year-round heated greenhouse last year. They are busy harvesting large quantities of spinach and greens for customers and grocery stores. Tomato plants will go into the ground very soon. 
– March 25, 2020

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BC Ministry of Agriculture: Update on COVID-19

Minister Lana Popham has provided an update on Ministry of Agriculture actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. For timely updates, sign up here.

Diagnostic services provided by the BC Ministry of Agriculture will continue through the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more.

Federal funding has been made available through Farm Credit Canada and through the Advance Payments Program. Learn more.

Editorial: Y2K was a Dry Run - reflections on COVID-19 and food

Abra Brynne, Executive Director, Central Kootenay Food Policy Council
March 24, 2020

It is impossible to know what next week will bring for this pandemic, nor how this will all play out here and around the world. But I hope that this prompts more to embrace the value of local food systems. There is no inherent moral superiority to local food. However, as the breakdown of global supply chains demonstrates, having the source close at hand provides greater security of access. And when it comes to food, which every one of us needs daily, it seems wise to ensure that the basics are covered locally.

Read on to explore why and how we may achieve that.

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Resources and Information for Farmers

AgSafe BC
COVID-19 workplace safety resources include agricultural site prevention procedures, exposure control plans, safety notices for workers, and signage.

BC Association of Farmers Markets (BCAFM) 
COVID-19 resources for farmers include a variety of links that will be regularly updated by the BCAFM.

Young Agrarians (YA)
YA’s resources for consumers and farmers during COVID-19 focus on how we can support local agriculture. Although the first two Columbia Basin events are postponed, stay tuned with YA’s updates on 2020 farm tours and events.

Cornell Small Farms
Resources to build market resilience are continually updated, and Cornell Small Farms is also offering free access to online courses to help farmers improve their technical and business skills from financial planning to soil health and growing mushrooms. Register HERE by Friday, March 27.  Choose a course and enter the coupon code “COVID19” at checkout.

How to Move Your Agri-Business Online – FREE Webinars 
Grounded Strategies is launching AgTech Talks, a
series of free live webinars designed to help agrifood businesses navigate the shift to doing business online. Register HERE

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How Will COVID-19 Impact Your Farm?

Farm Folk City Folk Survey
Impacts on farms will range widely, from the lack of migrant farm workers to closing restaurants and farmers markets. Please complete this super short survey (less than 5 minutes), and we will look for trends and opportunities for quick and long term wins to support you. – In solidarity, The FarmFolk CityFolk Team

BC Agriculture Council & The Canadian Federation of Agriculture Survey
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) will reach out to Canadian farmers on a weekly basis to identify issues caused by the outbreak to farm businesses. Please complete this survey to let CFA know your needs. 

Kootenay Natural Meats, Creston Valley

Wendy McNamar was making deliveries to clients and restaurants ten days ago when things started to shut down. “I was already loaded with my product when the phone started to ring. Half were calls from restaurants cancelling their orders, and the other half were people looking for bulk purchases of local meat. We have been running ever since.”

Wendy and Dale McNamar own and operate Kootenay Natural Meats, a 700 acre farm-to-fork business in the Creston Valley specializing in grass-fed beef, lamb, meat birds, heritage pork, turkeys, eggs, and honey. Wendy is well known at local farmers markets and regularly vends in Rossland, Nelson, Fernie and Creston, where she also sits on the board of the local farmers market committee.

“Right now we are trying to re-imagine our distribution channels and plan our product for the next six months, while still being loyal to our regular customers who have come to depend on us over the last decade,” Wendy said. “You can’t grow a cow overnight, but that would be a handy trick right now!”

The uncertainty over the spring farmers markets has many producers in flux about how to plan their season. Even when markets open, there will likely be fewer tourists and visitors.

“We are closely following the work that BCAFM is doing to support markets. They are working on an online platform to help each market. It is re-assuring news for everyone to have another sales avenue. Only time will tell how this goes, but right now we are focused on filling orders, planning for the safe delivery of door-to-door orders, and reassuring our customers that our food is safe.”

Wendy and Dale have added a COVID-19 statement to their website to reassure customers that safety is their top priority and to share their intention to serve their dedicated customer base for whom they have worked so hard over the last 14 years.

“We have everything invested in this farm. Everything. We will do whatever it takes to keep our small business alive in the coming months.”

You can find Kootenay Natural Meats and other local farms in the Central Kootenay Farm & Food Directory

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Irrigation Project Looks for Demonstration Farms

Do you have an irrigation system you’d like to improve or upgrade? Or, maybe you have an amazing irrigation system you’re willing to show off? If so, please let us know!  A new project with the Climate Action Initiative and Living Lands Consulting aims to help farms assess their irrigation systems to save water, labour, and energy, and to grow healthier, bigger yields.

Contact a KBFA advisor if you’d like to participate.

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