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.  

Photo: eight Kootenay farms networked and learned at the Pacific Agriculture Show & Horticulture Grower’s Short Course in Abbotsford, BC, January 23 – 26, 2019.


In This Issue

Headlines: Rock Star Farmers, Shop Online with new Kootenay Farms Marketplace
Events: BC Farmers’ Market Conference, Farm Succession, Food Safety and more!
Local Dirt: Wanted: Information on Cost of Production
Meet Your Advisors: Eric Gerbrandt, Ph.D Berries Consultant  


Kootenays Attract "Rock Star Farmers"

Two big names in ranching and market gardening visited the Kootenay & Boundary regions in January. Steve Kenyon, a well respected rancher and regular contributor to Canadian Cattlemen magazine, inspired audiences about managing your business for environmental and economic sustainability. 
Ben Hartman, author of The Lean Farm, gave a compelling presentation on the Japanese ‘Lean’ system as it applies to farming, to prevent burnout and increase profits with less waste and work. “The Lean system is a coin with two sides. One is cutting waste out of the operation. The other is value – learning what your customers want and delivering on that.”

Steve and Ben have both joined KBFA’s team of specialist advisors, and are available for one-on-one consultations. Check out the KBFA event summary and resources AND the Young Agrarians event recap.


Online Ordering Expands Access to Local Food

Buying local throughout the year just got easier! The new Kootenay Farm Marketplacelaunched last November lets you shop online for locally grown and produced food.  As a registered customer, you place your order online and pick it up at Spectrum Farms in Creston once a week.  Farmers who register with the Marketplace to sell their products benefit from the marketing, selling, packaging and distribution support.  

Funding for the initiative, which is modelled after Your Local Marketplace out of Oregon, was provided by Columbia Basin Trust and the BC Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia. The new online tool addresses the need for aggregation, distribution and sales by Kootenay producers, a message that came through loud and clear at the 2018 Fields Forward forum in Creston. 
Find out how it works at Kootenay Farms Marketplace.

The  Kettle Valley Food Co-op (KVFC) in Grand Forks has distributed local food with online ordering for many years. Soon, KVFC will be launching a refreshed online system, also using Your Local Marketplace, that will make the customer and farmer experience more streamlined. 

Annual BC Farmers' Market Conference to be Held for the First Time in the Kootenays

March 8-10 – Kimberley, BC
The BC Annual Farmers’ Markets Conference takes place in the Kootenay Rockies and Columbia Basin for the first time this year with support from presenting sponsor, Columbia Basin Trust. This year’s theme, “Cultivating Community,” brings together farmers’ market organizers, boards of directors, farmers, vendors, small scale food processors and community leaders to explore how we can grow and strengthen the farmers’ market sector through outreach and connections.  The weekend is packed with workshops, networking opportunities, social activities, and the annual Farmers’ Market Awards. Program and registration information here


Time to Transition the Farm?

FREE Farm Succession Workshops
Planning the transfer of your farm, whether to a family member or outside buyer, can seem like an overwhelming task.  In this workshop you’ll find out what’s required to create a succession plan that works specifically for you.  You’ll learn about preparing your business for sale, reviewing critical issues and setting goals, plus tax, life insurance and estate tips.

There is no cost to attend but space is limited. Pre-register today to ensure your space!  Time: 9:00 am to 3:00 pm for both locations:   

  • CRESTON – Wednesday, February 27 – Ramada Hotel Register
  • INVERMERE – Tuesday, March 12 – Lions Hall Register

Jamie Haynes Farm

Combining Tradition with Innovation to Make a Sustainable Farm

What’s the key to operating a sustainable farm for well over a century?  “Mixed farming – be diversified and try new things!” says Jamie Haynes with the same enthusiasm his grandfather ploughed into the farm when he started it in 1907.  A third generation farmer on this historic property, Jamie, along with his wife Maureen, son-in-law John and daughter Julie have struck an amazing balance between retaining traditional farming practices and innovation.

With the decline in farming in recent decades, much farmland that used to be in production now sits fallow and is a perfect breeding ground for invasive weeds.  Jamie dedicates a lot of elbow grease to revitalizing and restoring old farmland to get it back into production, demonstrating his commitment to being a steward of land, soil and farming in Boundary Country. 

Read the full story


Photo: From field to flour! Jamie Haynes stands in his grain field holding a bag of the finished product. 

Beyond the Button with Mr. Mercy's Mushroom

Young Agrarians Farmer Profile

This is a recent blog post from the Young Agrarians, to profile farmers in the region!

Robin Mercy is the owner of Mr. Mercy’s Mushrooms. He lives and farms in Kaslo, BC with his partner Tamara and son Kirin. They produce strains appropriate for the local climate, from blue oysters and enoki in the shoulder seasons to white elms, lion’s mane, and reishi in the hotter months. Read more!


Photo: Robin of Mr. Mercy’s Mushrooms hopes to “stimulate curiosity and appetite in their clientele with an assortment of beautiful and unique gourmet mushroom varieties” 

kbfa-agricultural events

Workshop: Food Safety Certification for Fruit & Vegetable Suppliers

Creston: Februrary 19 & 20

Learn how to certify your crop through the voluntary Canada GAP food safety program. Workshop covers best practices for handling, washing, processing and packing fruit and vegetables.
Learn more

AGM: Kootenay Organic Growers Society

Nelson: February 10

Come meet your organic farmers and learn what KOGS is all about! This volunteer run organic certification organization welcomes new members and interested members of the public. 1:00 pm at the Nelson Visitor Center.
Learn more


Workshop: Farm Succession

Creston: February 27 Invermere: March 12

Free farm succession planning workshop with Tracey Fredrickson, Agriculture Specialist with the Basin Business Advisors program and farm succession planning experts. 
Register for Creston  OR Invermere

Courses: Horticulture & Agriculture

Winter & Spring 2019

The College of the Rockies offers a range of horticulture courses including gardening, tree fruit pruning, soil management and pest control. 
Learn more


Local supplier event: Sobey's Local Supplier Road Show

Kelowna: February 19

Facilitated discussions between Sobeys and their local supply partners. Topics include food safety, opportunities and expanding your business. Learn more: 
email aaron.stromme@sobeys.com

Workshops: Wildfire Risk Reduction for Agriculture

Cranbrook: February 26 Creston: February 28 Grand Forks: March 5

Producers will gain vital knowledge to prepare themselves and their farms in the event of a wildfire including local emergency response protocols. Presented by the Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative.
Learn more


Workshop: Better Your Beekeeping

Cranbrook: March 2

Learn about Queen production, overwintering, spring management and disease prevention with expert Queen Bee breeders Karen & Gil Pedersen of Pedersen Apiaries.
Learn more

Webinar: Soil 101 & Organic Management

(online) Save the date: March 6

The Ministry of Agriculture’s nutrient management specialist will cover soil fundamentals including soil testing. Save the date- more details to come at KBFA/events.


Workshop: Grow Your Value-Added Food Business

Cranbrook: March 7

Learn what it takes to turn your food processing or beverage product idea into a business! Understand the business of planning, finance, marketing, packaging and distribution. 
Learn more 

Presentation: On-Farm Water Management & Irrigation Design

Invermere: April 2 Creston: April 3

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Water Management Specialist will share expertise on plant water demand, irrigation system design & efficiency.
Learn more



Cost of Production?

“I just want to know if I’m making money on my farm!”

Sooner or later, every farmer starts looking closely at what it costs to grow a specific crop. Knowing how to do a cost of production analysis is an essential tool for determining how well your farm business is doing, where efficiencies can be realized, preparing for changes and making strategic decisions that will enable you to reach your goals. Interest in cost of production by Kootenay farmers was demonstrated by a full house at the Cost of Production Workshop led by expert Chris Bodner last November. (Read the workshop summary here.)


To meet this need for information, the Basin Business Advisors program will be coordinating 2 workshops on cost of production in the fall of 2019, for meat producers and produce farms.  Watch Kootenay Farmer for details!

In the meantime, if you are a revenue-producing farm and would like one-to-one assistance with cost of production, contact Tracey Fredrickson, BBA Agriculture Specialist at tfredrickson@bbaprogram.ca or (250) 352-1933, extension 111.


Photo: Chris Bodner leading a Cost of Production workshop in Nelson


The BBA Agriculture program and the Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors can connect you with specialized agricultural advisors who are highlighted in this section of the newsletter. A growing list of advisors can be viewed here. 


Eric Gerbrandt, Ph.D

Berries Consultant

“Many of the crops that grow well in the Fraser Valley will grow in the warmer microclimates of the Kootenays which represents a great opportunity for Kootenay farmers to diversify and build the region’s agricultural brand.”

Those words from Eric Gerbrandt, an expert in horticultural management of berries, reflect the information available to Kootenay farmers through the Kootenay Boundary Farm Advisors (KBFA). KBFA brought Eric to Harrop and Christina Lake in July, 2018 for field days to speak on best practices for field preparation and establishment of blueberries which included visits to two blueberry farms. Visit KBFA’s archived events page for berry growing resources.

Eric’s experience in the BC berry industry dates back to 2007 including extensive research into applied horticultural management of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and haskap berries.  His work is managed under his company, Sky Blue Horticulture Ltd. and aimed at developing more efficient methods of fruit production and creating a more profitable, competitive berry sector.  To this end, he serves the BC Blueberry Council, Raspberry Industry Development Council, and the BC Strawberry Growers’ Association as their Research Director. 

“What struck me about the Kootenays is the number of smaller market gardens and niche producers compared to the many large scale farms in the Fraser Valley,” he says. “Small producers have the flexibility to do some interesting things to connect food with their communities in the form of on-farm research and introducing new products to the marketplace.” Read more about Eric here


Cost-Sharing Traceability Programs Launched

The Traceability Adoption (TA) and Traceability Value Chain programs have been launched by the BC Ministry of Agriculture. The TA program provides cost-shared funding to individual businesses to implement or improve facility-based traceability systems and practices.  These businesses include agri-food or seafood producers, processors, distributors, warehouses, transporters, importers, exporters, etc.

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