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.
Excess Harvest in the East Kootenay
Market demand for locally produced food has changed this season and varies greatly by region and by sector. For Edible Acres in Winderere, sales are down and they are projecting a surplus in produce this fall. “Visitors to the Columbia Valley usually make up about 50% of our clientele but things are different this season,” says Oliver Egan, farm owner and manager. “We are feeling the heat and we don’t know what we are going to do with all this food!” In a normal season, Edibles can hardly keep up with demand through their direct to consumer sales at farmers markets, a box CSA and farm stand. “We are confident that we will adapt, we always do, but it’s been a very challenging season so far!”
A group in the Central Kootenay is already planning how to manage excess harvest this season: find out more in Local Dirt.
Need veggies? Edible Acres is a five-acre certified organic veggie farm in the Columbia Valley. They are projecting a surplus this season and are already composting fresh produce that can’t be stored.
In This Issue
Headlines: Weather Stations Study, Creston Picker Camps, Irrigation Project, Organic Survey
Events: Field days are back! Orchard Mulching, Sudangrass, Water and Soil
Kudos to our Farmers: Little Fork Ranch and First Light Farm
Local Dirt: Garlic Season Tips, Local Dairy Update, Agriculture in the Columbia Valley, Planning for Excess Harvest
Irrigation Project: Field Days are Coming
Every farm faces its own set of “water woes”, and most aren’t getting better as the climate gets less predictable. The Climate Action Initiative has hired irrigation designers Andrew Bennett and Bruce Naka to tour farms across our region and work with producers on water solutions to implement the Adaptation Strategy for Agriculture in the Kootenay & Boundary. Andrew and Bruce have already toured over 25 farms and installed soil moisture sensors, dug soil pits, and assessed irrigation systems. Data and resources from the field trials will be shared with the agricultural community through field days, case studies, and videos in the winter and spring of 2021. View photos HERE of the work being done (and some pretty cool irrigation systems)!
Creston Group Supports Cherry Industry and Sets Provincial Standard
The sound of helicopters hovering above orchards as you drive into the Creston Valley is an indication of the challenging season that cherry growers have faced in 2020. Growers are used to dealing with erratic wet weather, but the pandemic has posed new challenges as orchards welcomed seasonal fruit pickers into their temporary picker camps. “This is where Fields Forward has stepped in,” says Elizabeth Quinn of the Fields Forward Society, a Creston non-profit. “According to the new Worksafe protocols, each picker camp needs a Covid Safety Coordinator. We have hired a “Covid Coordinator Trainer” who trains the coordinators at each camp. This has provided a sense of clarity for the growers, and safety for the pickers.” The Okanagan is now looking to Creston to learn from this successful Creston initiative. Overflow temporary worker camps have also been set up that can accommodate up to 50 workers. Read the press release here.
NEW: Forage Selection Tool for Western Canada
The newly released, interactive Forage Species Selection Tool (Forage U-Pick) assists land managers and producers in Western Canada to select the forage species best suited to their climate, soil conditions, and management goals. The Beef Cattle Research Council has also release a new Forage Species Page that includes mixtures versus pure stands, management considerations, and an overview of Canadian forage breeding programs.
BC: Recommendations for a More Resilient Food System and Support for Agriculture
FarmFolk CityFolk have collaborated with a think tank of food and agriculture powerhouses to submit an open letter to Premier John Horgan and Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham, urging the government to adopt programs and policies that will lead to long-term resilience in our food system.
Read the letter.
SURVEY: Agricultural Extension for BC’s Organic Sector — Is There a Need?
With funding from the BC Ministry of Agriculture, the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems is conducting a study to establish the need for agricultural extension services. This is part of a larger study to develop a BC-wide extension service for the organic sector. Take the survey!
KBFA in-person field days back! Events are held outdoors in spacious settings with lots of room for distancing. If non-essential travel bans return, the events will be will postponed to a later date.
Stay tuned as we finalize plans for more fall field days!
Field Day - Orchard Mulching Trial
August 31, Creston
Join KBFA to learn how mulching has improved soil moisture and fruit quality from a two-year mulching and irrigation trial at a Creston cherry orchard. Irrigation optimization techniques will be discussed.
Field Day - Sorghum Sudangrass Trial
September 2, Cranbrook
Join KBFA, Dr. Catherine Tarasoff, and fellow ranchers to look over the yield results of a sorghum -sudangrass trial that compared three varieties at different seeding rates on dry land at the Morrison Ranch in the East Kootenay.
Farm Water Management with Takota Coen
August 5, Online
Takota Coen will draw on his extensive permaculture knowledge to discuss how Coen Farm in Alberta uses swales as a tool to manage water and increase resiliency on their farm. Presented by Rural Routes to Climate Solutions (rr2cs) from Alberta.
Assessing Soil Health Webinar Series
August - January, Online
This technical webinar series presented by the Soil Science Society of America focuses on a science-based approach to measure soil health for agriculture.
Miss an event? Here are some of our favorite online presentations from the last month
Nutrient Management for Small Orchards
Molly Thurston of Pearl Agriculture Consulting presents Nutrient Management for Small Orchards (apples, pears, soft fruit). Packed with information – hold onto your seats!
Irrigation & Water Demand
Duane Holder presents the results of the Erickson Agricultural Water Demand Study and irrigation and water management for orchards. Enjoy insights on agriculture’s right to water in this informative presentation. Password: 8N*2M*xu 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.
Farm Status and Farm Classification
BC Assessment presents a six-part webinar series about Farm Classification, including a step-by-step guide to complete applications and an overview of farm property inspections and the appeal process.
Little Fork Ranch
Pastured Poultry in Greenwood, BC
Recently featured in Country Life in BC
Rotational grazing is growing in popularity and producers like Eric Moes have built chicken tractors that suit their landscape and desired scale of production. For Little Fork Ranch, this meant building a larger 20×40-foot hoophouse on skids that could fit his whole flock. Read more
Image right: The chicken tractor hoop house accommodates Little Fork Ranch’s large flock of broilers and protects the flock from lurking predators.
First Light Farm
NEW Market Garden in Revelstoke
Recently featured in Powder Magazine
The pandemic accelerated aspiring farmers Jesse Hill and Chris Rubens into full gear this spring, inspiring them to create a commercial market garden, First Light Farm, in just a few months.
Powder Magazine caught up with these young farmers who are raising awareness about food security and growing community. Read more
The story of First Light Farm captured the attention of the sports world as the focus for one pro-athlete shifted quickly from slopes to soils. Photo credit: Keri Knapp
Garlic Season Beginith: Efficient Garlic Hanging
This is one of our favorite re-posts from Rasa Creek Farm’s Jim Capellini, who has led workshops on garlic growing for KBFA.
Video: Fast and Efficient Method for Hanging Garlic to Cure
Questions about disease? Linda Gilkeson’s fact sheet can get you started. Read it here.
Update: Dairies that Process On-farm Need a Break
“We don’t want anyone supporting or putting money into our plant. We just want the pricing and licensing structure to be equitable enough that we can compete on our own,” says Erin Harris of Kootenay Meadows Organic Dairy in Creston.
Country Life in BC brings us up to speed on the challenges and intricacies of a supply management industry and why a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work for all agri-business. Read more
NEW Report Makes the Case for Agricultural Development in the Columbia Valley
Striving for Agricultural Development and Food Security in the Columbia Valley was compiled by Hedi Trescher of the Windermere and District Farmers’ Institute. It provides a comprehensive analysis of what the Columbia Valley has produced in the past, regional soil and climate data, and information on production and marketing. This report is the launchpad for further analysis into crop and market suitability and the Columbia Valley Food Hub. Read more.
Excess Harvest this Season? NEW Project Aims for Zero Waste of Local Harvest
With global supply chains disrupted and local food suddenly the focus of everyone’s interest, the Central Kootenay Food Policy Council (CKFPC) is making sure that every crop in our region finds a home and a kitchen this fall. With support from the RDCK, the Council is coordinating with food producers (farmers and processors) as well as grocery outlets, emergency food services, and institutions. If you anticipate a bumper harvest and uncertainty with buyers, please contact 250-777-248 or email [email protected]
Join our open discussions! Every second Thursday at 1:30 pm food producers, processors and food system workers meet via Zoom to talk about what is happening in our respective food businesses, food economies and local communities. The next meetings are August 13th and August 27th. Learn more