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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 in the Kootenay & Boundary regions. 

As we adjust to our new normal, KBFA has been taking stock on what the last few months have meant for local producers. Although the pandemic has shone light on the value of local food and agriculture, it has also consumed a farmers most valuable resource: TIME.
Farmers have been adapting to new online systems, educating new customers about what purchasing local is all about, expanding production and getting a workforce and production system COVID-19 friendly, which has led to early season exhaustion and fatigue in some instances (and the growing season has just begun!). Be kind to your local farmer. They are ‘given er’ 110% right now and need our support to keep doing what they do best: grow good food. 

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Cartwheel Farm in the Creston Valley is expanding production, hiring more employees and adding other locally produced products to their home delivery service such as eggs, meat and baking to support local businesses and folks wanting to decrease their trips to the store while still accessing local, seasonal foods.  farmers most valuable resource: TIME.
Farmers have been adapting to new online systems, educating new customers about what purchasing local is all about, expanding production and getting a workforce and production system COVID-19 friendly, which has led to early season exhaustion and fatigue in some instances (and the growing season has just begun!). Be kind to your local farmer. They are ‘given er’ 110% right now and need our support to keep doing what they do best: grow good food. 

In This Issue

Headlines: Community Food Groups Respond, Online Tools for Farmers, New Prok Production Manual, Local Meat Industry Mourns Great Loss
Events: Water Management, Online Tree Fruit Extension Meetings, Agriculture Weather Data
Kudos to our Farmers: Fungi in Kaslo 
Local Dirt: NEW Agriculture Business Advisor, Kootenay Meadows Call to Action, NEW Columbia Valley Food & Farm Directory 
Ministry of Agriculture: NEW Resources for C-19 and Agricultural Job Board

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Community Groups Lead Food Security Efforts in the Kootenays: Regional Snap Shot

Community food groups and volunteers launched into action this spring to support food security efforts while Farmers Markets everywhere have been working extra hard to adapt so that residents can still access locally produced food. The Kettle Valley Food Co-op provided free home delivery service of locally produced veggies, meat and dairy; Cranbrook Food Action distributed free garden seeds; Kootenay Food in the Slocan Valley sent garden seeds to 400 households including weekly home deliveriesColumbia Valley Food & Farm launched Feed the Valley and a prepared meal program; Revelstoke Local Food Initiative introduced more online resources for local food growing; Golden initiated a Garden Share program with support from the Young Agrarians; the North Kootenay Lake Food Hub distributed food and provided resources with the Kaslo Food Security Project; and, the Central Kootenay Food Policy Council convened weekly food shed meetings to share, learn and support folks working with food and agriculture. This list is not exhaustive! Thank you everyone for your efforts.

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Tech Support for Farmers: The Young Agrarians Whittle Down the Best Tools for Small Farms

This article provides extensive e-commerce tricks, tips and tools if you are looking to move your business online or integrate Point of Sale with your online sales: Do It Yourself Website Toolkit for Farmers and Food Producers.
Software Tools for Small Farms provides a comprehensive list of online tools for farm management, tracking and payment. 

Tired of reading and want to talk to a human? Contact the Basin Business Advisors for one-on-one support. Email: nmarsh@bbaprogram.ca 

NEW Small Lot Pork Producer Management & Production Manual

The BC Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with BC Pork, have released a new resource manual, Small Lot Pork Producer – Management & Production. The manual provides practical information on good husbandry practices to raise healthy pigs and quality pork. This is the first of several management tools being developed for small lot pork producers in BC and workshops are tentatively scheduled throughout BC for the spring 2021.

Local Meat Industry Mourns the Loss of Abattoir Champion

Chad Maarhuis of Magnum Meats Abattoir in Rock Creek passed away suddenly on May 10. He was 37. Chad was a champion of local agriculture and many producers in the Kootenay and Boundary region used his exceptional abattoir and cut and wrap services. The loss of Chad is profound and leaves a huge hole in our agricultural community. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and employees. A group of producers in the Rock Creek and Boundary region were already working with Magnum Meats to expand the abattoir’s capacity and will continue to support the sector through these difficult times. 
Country Life in BC article

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KBFA in-person field days are on-hold for the time being but we look forward to gathering again soon! In the meantime, we are moving some of our field days online.

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Keyline for On-farm Water Management

Webinar Presentation June 3, 6:30 PM (PST)

Keyline design uses natural landscape contours and cultivation techniques to slow, sink and spread rainwater more evenly across the landscape. This presentation is part of the the climate adaptation strategy plan for Bulkley-Nechako & Fraser-Fort GeorgePresented by Taylor Krawcyzk. of Hatchet & Seed
Register Here

Tree Fruit Management for Small Orchards

Online Zoom Extension Presentation June 22 and 29, 7:00 PM (PST)

Join KBFA and horticulture specialist Molly Thurston of Pearl Agriculture Consulting to discuss nutrient and pest management for small orchards (apples, pears, soft fruit). Molly works with growers in the Kootenay region and operates her own commercial organic orchard in the Okanagan. 
Learn more

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Commercial Cherry Production

Online Zoom Extension Presentation Every Tuesday, 7:00 AM (PST)

Every Tuesday morning horticulture specialists Molly Thurston and Duane Holder hold online extension meetings to support commercial cherry growers. For more information email Molly at:
mollyadairthurston@gmail.com 

NEW Agricultural Climate Data Webinars

By the BC Agriculture Climate Adaptation Research Network (ACARN)

June 11, 10:30 – 12:00 PM (PST)
Climate Data for BC Agriculture: Weather stations, historical data & streamflows REGISTER HERE.

June 24, 10:30 – 11:30 AM (PST)
Climate Modelling Analysis Tools REGISTER HERE.
Learn more

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Miss an event? Here are some of our favorite online presentations from the last month

5 Concepts for Farming During Turbulent Times
Ben Hartman is a farmer and author of The Lean Farm“Farmers play a very important role in restoring social trust and trust in our food system. There is an emotional side to this. Let’s do it.” Watch here.

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Pivoting Your Farm Production and Marketing Plan During C-19
Chris Bodnar is a farmer in Abbotsford, a teacher of agricultural business and a consultant with BC-Agri-Business Planning Program. “Everything is going to take extra work and extra time this season. Make your sure you pay yourself to do the extra work. This is key this season.” Watch here.

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How to Grow Your Own Flower Garden 
Stone Meadow Gardens is a well known and respected certified organic flower business in the Central Kootenay. Learn their tips and tricks in this informative webinar brought to us by the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society. Watch here

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Mercey's Mushrooms

Gourmet Mushrooms Picked Fresh Daily in Kalso, BC

With almost 2500 sqft of indoor and outdoor growing space, Robin Mercey is the largest commercial mushroom producer in the Kootenays. At full capacity the business can produce close to 300 pounds weekly. “A short shelf-life is one of the challenges to fresh mushroom production. It is critical to develop a production system that integrates the timing of harvest with delivery to the end-market,” says Robin. Read more

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Typical varieties include shitakes, oysters, lion’s mane, bear’s head, reishi, chestnut, cordyceps and turkey tail.

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Kootenay Meadows Organic Dairy: Call to Action

At Kootenay Meadows Organic Dairy in the Creston Valley, the milk and cheese are produced and processed on-site and delivered direct to local retail outlets. They are reaching out to the public to support their cause in advocating to the BC Minister of Agriculture and BC Milk Marketing Board for a more equitable price structure. They currently sell their milk to the BC Milk Marketing Board and then buy that milk back to process on-farm, without the milk ever leaving the farm, which represents a significant and increasingly inaccessible financial burden. 
Learn more 

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NEW Columbia Valley Local Food Directory

Launched in the spring of 2020, the new online directory is a one stop shop to find local food and farms. The directory is an initiative of Columbia Valley Food and Farm with a mission to support the agricultural and food processing sectors, build the local food system and to enhance the unique culinary culture in the Columbia Valley.

The Central Kootenay Food and Farm Directory is also online with print versions that are updated every May and distributed through the region. 

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NEW Agriculture Business Specialist to Support Producers with Free Planning & Resources

The Basin Business Advisor program has recently welcomed Nyree Marsh to their team as the Agriculture Specialist. Nyree is a business owner with over 20 years of hands-on experience and knowledge of agriculture and has expertise in wholesale and marketing based on her experience running her own small business, Little Miss Gelato. 

Questions about COVID-19 supports, workforce, resources, loans and wage subsidies? Ask Nyree! email: nmarsh@bbaprogram.ca 

Columbia Basin Trust: Food Producer Loans & Food Producer Wage Subsidy 

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NEW Online Agricultural Job Connector

May 28: British Columbians can now access a NEW online resource that showcase job opportunities in BC’s agricultural sector. B.C. Farm, Fish and Food Job Connector.

NEW Youth Wage Subsidy

May 27: The Federal Government has announced an enhancement to the Youth Employment and Skills Program to inlcude employers who hire youth for agricultural jobs. The program offers support for 50% of wages to a maximum of $14,000. First come first serve!

NEW Guidance Documents for Farm Stands

May 27: Information for U-pick, market vendors, farm stands and agri-tourism operators to meet Provincial Health Officer (PHO) orders, notices and guidance for COVID-19.

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