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JULY 2020

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Vol. 106 No. 7
The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915 JULY 2020 | Vol. 106 No. 7
ALR
Farmland advocates pan agritech plans 7
DAIRY
Small on-farm dairy processors raise concerns 9
FRUIT
Leaming confident fruit industry can rejuvenate
13
by PETER MITHAM
ABBOTSFORD – BC farm
leaders have pledged to work
with the federal government
and Mexico to overhaul the
Seasonal Agricultural Worker
Program.
Mexico announced June 21
that it had reached an
agreement with Canada to
ensure its citizens
participating in SAWP
remained safe while working
in Canada. The deal
establishes a committee with
representation from Canada’s
federal ministries responsible
for employment, health,
immigration and agriculture,
as well as Mexicos ministries
of labour and foreign aairs.
The intergovernmental
group will identify risks,
address complaints and take
immediate action to protect
SAWP participants. Canada
will support Mexicos eorts to
identify high-risk farms,
ensure timely access to health
care and review instances where
workers have been put at risk.
Provincial authorities will
also be involved, with a key
area being education of
employers regarding their
responsibilities.
Reg Ens, executive director
of the BC Agriculture Council,
which administers SAWP in BC
through the Western
Agriculture Labour Initiative,
says industry is prepared to
assist with any changes
Mexico requests.
The government of Mexico
is very concerned about their
workers, he says. We’re
supporting them.
WALI has been asked for
information, which it’s
providing, and its also
reminding growers to follow
BC blueberries have 10 days to make it from eld to market in top shape, says Rhonda Driediger of Driediger Farms in Langley. She says growers
need to work with packers to ensure they get top value for their fruit. High quality is the key for BC growers as rising global production makes for
more competitive times and pushes down prices. Speakers this past winter encouraged growers to renew their elds with berries that deliver value
in the fresh market. See story on page 13. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
Mexico launches SAWP review
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by TOM WALKER
PORT ALBERNI  The BC
Ministry of Agriculture has
announced the opening of
three new regions for class D
onfarm slaughter licences.
Farmers within the
Regional District of Alberni
Clayoquot, as well as electoral
area D in Central Kootenay
and electoral area H in Fraser
Fort George Regional District,
will now be eligible to apply
for class D licenses.
While consumers are more
attuned to the security and
advantages of a local meat
See NEW on next page
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NEW operators face a steep learning curve nfrom page 1
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supply due to COVID19, the
timing is just a coincidence
says BC agriculture minister
Lana Popham.
The great thing is that
consumers are now asking for
more food security and
regional supply, and just by
coincidence we were ready to
make this announcement,
she says. “It looks like we
responded to the concerns
around the pandemic but we
were going to do this
anyway.
This is the provinces
second action as a result of
ongoing consultations with
respect to slaughter capacity.
The rst, in June 2019, was
allowing applications for class
E facilities if they were at least
an hour away from a
provincially inspected facility.
Previously, they had to be at
least two hours away.
The change followed a
consultation on class D & E
licences in spring 2018 as well
as a report prepared by the
legislatures Select Standing
Committee on Agriculture,
Fish and Food that year.
“It looks like it took a long
time to make these changes,
adds Popham. “But I can tell
you theres a lot more
changes coming. … Its going
to address other problems
within the meat system.
That’s good news to the BC
Association of Abattoirs,
which sees the expansion of
class D to a total of 13 regions
as just a rst step.
“I am happy for the
producers who will be able to
expand their operations with
these facilities, says
association executive director
Nova Woodbury. We are
supportive of onfarm
slaughter. Many of the
provinces inspected abattoirs
started and continue as on
farm slaughter operations.
But she says it’s important
that any new class D facilities
in the province have better
oversight than in the past.
We need to reassure the
public that they are getting a
wholesome meat product
from an operator who is
following humane practices at
slaughter, she says.
New operators face a steep
learning curve, she says, and
courses such as
SlaughterSafe, a oneday
course uninspected licensees
must take, don’t require
participants to demonstrate
that they’ve learned anything.
She says this could create
some potentially devastating
issues for the industry.
They will also need to
obtain insurance, which
Woodbury says is no small
feat for an uninspected
processor.
While the facilities are
audited by their local health
authority, this doesn’t happen
as regularly as it should.
An agriculture ministry
report on D & E licensing
released in June 2018 noted
that a third of plants surveyed
said a regional health
authority inspector hadn’t
visited them in more than a
year, and over half had only
had one visit. There is no
mandatory requirement for
inspection and all ve of the
regional health authorities
surveyed said annual
inspections don’t happen.
Woodbury says new class D
licences will only add to the
burden on local health
authorities.
“I am mystied how the
minister of agriculture is
allowed to increase the
workload of local health
authorities, adds Woodbury.
Popham disagrees.
We don’t see this as
putting a strain on the
resources that we have
currently, she says.
One of the rst licensees
under the expanded class D
provisions could be Lisa
Aylard, a longtime advocate
of increased local slaughter
capacity in AlberniClayoquot
and president of the Alberni
Farmers’ Institute. She penned
a letter this spring after the
closure of Plecas Meats
urging the province to make
changes.
The letter was endorsed by
the regional district, which
noted it had asked to be
designated for class D
licences in 2017.
“Smallscale slaughter was
identied as a priority in our
2011 agriculture plan as a
means to help local farmers,
says Tanya Shannon, director
for electoral area B and a
member of the regional
districts agricultural
development committee. “I’m
really happy to see that it has
gone through. This is just a
small step in what it could be
for the valley.
Agriculture used to have a
much greater role in many
communities around the
province, Shannon notes.
Having local slaughter will
allow livestock farmers to
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the protocols required by the
province and industry to
ensure the safety of workers.
Signicant challenges
remain with respect to labour,
however. While Mexico says it
has sent 16,000 workers to
Canada this year, BC remains
short-handed.
We had hoped to get
1,000 workers in this month,
and were probably going to
end up with 600 to 700, Ens
explained in mid-June.
Those challenges include
securing work permits in
Mexico and Jamaica, where
processing timelines have
lengthened as a result of
COVID-19. A lack of approvals
led to cancellation of at least
two ights chartered to carry
workers from Mexico to
Canada. Approved workers
were instead booked on
available commercial ights,
with about 250 workers
expected in the nal two
weeks of June.
However, the ow of
workers hasn’t stopped, unlike
in Ontario where more than
600 farm workers have tested
positive for COVID-19. By
press time, three had died.
While there have also been
cases among farm workers in
BC, the numbers have been in
the dozens rather than the
hundreds and no workers
have died. When it announced
the ban on sending workers
to Canada in June 15, Mexico
claried that BC farms should
not be aected by the
stoppage.
expand, reversing the
downward trend.
We have seen it decline
because of cost, aging
farmers, and barriers to entry,
she says. This is a step to turn
that around and get more
economic growth by having
local products available. … It
will be a long process to get
this going, but now the
opportunity is there.
Greater local slaughter
capacity will complement the
seafoodoriented food hub
the province is funding in
Port Alberni.
There will be cooler
facilities in the hub, notes
Shannon. “North Island
College has already said they
would be interested in
oering cutandwrap
courses.
Education is a real
opportunity to support meat
processing in BC, says Julia
Smith of the SmallScale Meat
Producers Association.
With more licenses we will
need butcher services, Smith
points out. This is an
opportunity to increase the
prole of butchers here in BC.
They are considered skilled
tradesmen in many other
jurisdictions.
The push for having D
licences has been a project of
the whole community, says
Shannon.
The city of Port Alberni,
the towns on the west coast,
the regional district, the
local farmers’ institute and
the District A farmers’
institute have all been
involved, she says. This has
been quite the collaboration
and everybody is excited to
see it coming together.
With les from Peter Mitham
Ranchers troubled
by inconsistencies
in well licensing
Government fails to communicate
options to well owners
A hawk takes a refreshing break from hunting and the heat, perched on an irrigation system in a farmer's eld in
Coldstream. PHOTO / FILE
by PETER MITHAM
BEAVERDELL – An analysis
of nearly 500 groundwater
licences the province has
issued under the Water
Sustainability Act reveals
sharp inconsistencies in what’s
being required of owners.
Sandra Ryan and partner
Bill Di Pasquale are small-scale
forage producers in
Beaverdell. They registered
their well and this past March
received a conditional
groundwater licence for a
withdrawal of about 67,640
cubic metres a year.
However, they were
surprised to discover among
the conditions of the licence a
requirement to “install a ow
meter or other measuring
device and “retain the
ow/measurement records for
inspection upon request.
When we applied for the
licence (as an existing user),
there was absolutely no notice
that this would be a condition
to subsequently use the water.
We, along with everyone else,
were only told there would be
retroactive water rental fee(s),
says Ryan, whose preliminary
research showed that a ow
meter would be “prohibitively
costly.
A four-inch recording
meter, anges and other
installation materials is in the
range of $4,000. This does not
include hiring a mechanical
contractor to do the
installation. So, at a bare
minimum, this is a $5,000-plus
venture.
Ryan, who studied law,
began to investigate the
matter. Reviewing 475 of the
1,080 groundwater licences
issued through the end of
May to existing well users
since the Water Sustainability
Act took eect in 2016, she
found that not all users are
required to install a meter.
While well owners in the
Victoria and Nanaimo water
districts are the least likely to
be asked to install a meter, she
discovered a case in the
Vernon water district where
two licences with identical
parameters were issued. One
owner required to have a ow
meter and the other was not.
According to the BC
Ministry of Forests, Lands,
Natural Resource Operations
and Rural Development, the
conditions are at the
discretion of the “statutory
decision makers, which in this
case is usually the assistant
water manager overseeing a
given district.
“[They] have the discretion
to add terms and conditions
to the water licences, such as
installing a ow meter. Once
these terms and conditions
have been met, then a nal
licence may be issued, says
FLNORD, which administers
the application and licensing
process.
Ryan also noted that one
decision maker, who made 44
decisions of the 475 licences
examined, always required the
licensee to install a meter,
irrespective of use or quantity.
The minimum fee for a non-
domestic water user is $50 a
year, which amounts to a draw
of up to 60,000 cubic metres a
year. The decision maker
required one licensee to install
a ow meter for a licensed use
of just 266 cubic metres a year.
“I fail to see how requiring a
licensee to install a ow meter
when they use 266 cubic
metres of water/year for their
livestock makes any sense
whatsoever, she said in a
letter outlining her concerns
to Ted White, comptroller of
water rights for the province.
White replied, reiterating
that any conditions attached
to a licence, including the
installation of a ow meter,
was at the discretion of the
assistant water manager.
However, he said the province
is open to making
improvements.
The Province is listening to
user feedback on the system
and is taking steps to make
the process more user friendly
and where it is challenging,
FrontCounterBC sta are
available to help, he said.
Ryan has taken her
concerns to the provinces
environmental appeal board, a
quasi-judicial body.
This is one option for
licensees, says Mike Wei, an
independent consultant who
served as the provinces
technical expert during
development and
implementation of the Water
Sustainability Act and
Groundwater Protection
Regulation.
One reason for the
inconsistencies between
water districts is the discretion
decision makers have, and the
lack of a single standard for
when to impose conditions or
how to measure water use.
There is no policy, that I
am aware, regarding
measuring and reporting and
when to put it on a condition
or not, and what is the
acceptable measuring
method. So each decision
maker is kind of on their own,
he says.
One of the things his team
looked at was alternative
methods of estimating water
use.
“Can you record time pump
on, time pump o, and do
that and, given how much
you’re pumping, just calculate
how much it is without buying
additional infrastructure?”
This is an idea that appeals
to the BC Cattlemens
Association, which has taken a
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 3
strong stand against water
meters in discussions with
government.
We feel that there are
other, less costly ways, to
estimate that use, says
association assistant general
manager Elaine Stovin, noting
the province has no
regulations governing
measuring and reporting
requirements. “What we’re
saying is you don’t need a
water meter to do that. You
need a good relationship with
the producer; you need to
make a simple way for them
to report that use.
Good relationships will also
encourage producers to
embrace the new
groundwater management
regime, the intent of which
Ryan generally supports.
Requiring producers to
measure water at some cost
to themselves, and then not
providing grants to assist with
modernizing and upgrading
equipment to achieve the
goal of more ecient water
use, doesn’t wash with her.
While some water districts
have done a good job at
letting producers know their
options, Stovin says thats
clearly not the experience of
most producers.
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The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915
Vol.106 No. 7 . JULY 2020
Published monthly by Country Life 2000 Ltd.
www.countrylifeinbc.com
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Happy Canada Day, PW!
All together
Half the years passed and, in many regards, its been one of disease, physical
distancing and reminders that, even so, “we’re all in this together.
Appropriately, Canada Day kicks o the second half of the year. Cue the
reminders that the true north remains strong and free, the nods to all the ways
we’ve fallen short, and the reworks that celebrate all we hope to be. We are
more, as poet Shane Koyczan said at the opening ceremonies of the 2010
Winter Olympics:
we do more than grow wheat and brew beer
we are vineyards of good year after good year
we reforest what we clear
because we believe in generations beyond our own
knowing now that so many of us
have grown past what used to be
This doesn’t mean the future were growing into will be easy. Some issues will
continue to dog the farm sector like a lingering cough. The challenges bringing
foreign workers to the province this year are a reminder that our food supply is
dependent on human hands. We’re all in this together too often stops at the
farm gate.
A similar dilemma faces agriculture ministers across the country. The federal
government alone has made nearly $700 billion worth of support available as
part of its response to COVID-19. Provincial governments have announced their
own relief programs, easily putting the total response closer to $1 trillion.
Agriculture is a small part of the total picture and, with only so much money to
go around, ministers have to ght for every penny.
But, as BC agriculture minister Lana Popham notes on the opposite page,
buying locally deepens the reach of dollars into local communities. The people
who put food on the nations tables don’t have to settle for crumbs from
government if we make them the rst stop for the dollars from our pockets.
Whether were patronizing local farmers, retailers or restaurateurs, choosing to
buy BC is one way we can directly support those trying to stay in business.
Of course, with only so much money to go around, the federal government
will likely be looking at ways to cover the massive outlay its made this year
ghting COVID-19. Changes to sales taxes, capital gains provisions and even
HAPPY
CANADA
DAY
4 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and you reap what you sow were
two of my grandparents’ favourite sayings.
I remember being overwhelmed by
the size and scope of the garden
when I rst moved to the farm and
asking why there was so much of so
many dierent things. I was trying to
imagine how many precious
childhood hours would be lost among
its rows.
“You reap what you sow, said Grandad. “How would you like to eat just
cabbage and turnips for every meal?”
Inspired by the vision of a solitary, steaming pot of boiled cabbages and
turnips, I connected the dots. I was soon thankful for the garden at every
mealtime, where Grandad often explained that variety was the spice of life. I
never heard either of my grandparents ever say the word diversity, though that
was exactly what Grandad was driving at that rst day in the garden. The word
is commonplace now, used in various contexts, but in its broadest sense it is
the dening trait of the natural world.
Diversity is particularly familiar to most of us on farms and ranches. Sunshine
turning to thundershowers and back to sunshine in minutes; elds, forest, at
land and side-hills, mountains, a river, a creek and a wetland marsh are all
visible through the window in front of me. Tilled ground and grass elds, cows
and horses grazing, deer passing through, birds of all sorts, and any day now,
there will be sockeye salmon in the river. Every acre lled with billions of living
parts from massive to microscopic.
As general diversity shrinks, nature begins to break down. Eliminate it all
together and the jig is up.
Diversity is also critical in more specic circumstances. Genetic diversity is
critical to agriculture. One of the seed catalogues on my desk has 61 varieties of
pumpkin. We have 13 of them in the ground. They were chosen carefully for
myriad traits that suit our land, climate, market and personal preference.
Away from the natural world, diversity is still an important concept.
Politicians of all stripes advocate for a diverse economy. The most diverse
economies are more stable and resilient overall. Economies heavily reliant on a
single commodity or activity often soar or crash in spectacular fashion.
There are several diversities that are distinctly human: racial, ethnic, religious,
political and intellectual. Sadly, these diversities ar
e often faced with prejudice
and intolerance from the very species they ar
e exclusive to. Intolerance of one
or more of these diversities has been the reason – or justication – for several
thousand years of war, genocide and oppression.
It is a simple equation: identify a point of diversity, vilify it, attach blame to it
and call it a threat.
We need look no further than the polarized political landscape in the
democracy next door. Reasoned political discourse and debate has dissolved
into something along the lines of: We are right; you are wrong; everything that
is already wrong is your fault, and what is the point in talking to people who are
wrong about everything?”
The stance is very hard-edged and has become a solid line where there was
once a fuzzy edge where opinions and ideas could be exchanged and minds
could be altered. Moderate voters could nd a spot on the political spectrum
where they were most comfortable and wait to see whose ideology could grow
to embrace them.
Polarization is a dangerous thing for a democracy because it destroys the
ability to reach social consensus. Without that consensus there can only ever be
winners and losers, anger and mistrust.
Diversity is variety, variety is choice, and choice is the lifeblood of democracy.
On this Canada Day, we might do well to consider our country and all its
diversities and dedicate ourselves to respecting and protecting them, whatever
they may be.
Bob Collins raises beef cattle and grows produce on his farm in the Alberni
Valley.
The Back Forty
BOB COLLINS
estate taxes are past fears that seem set to resurface. Whatever measures
government introduces, they must support the farm sector rather than make it
harder to do business or pass businesses on. Without business continuity, we
betray our belief “in generations beyond our own.
Ultimately, we are more than the challenges that confront us. Canada is a
confederation, a mosaic of provinces and peoples that saw themselves as
greater together than any of them could be alone. This summer is a chance to
embrace that spirit as we chart a path forward beyond COVID-19.
Canada Day is a time to celebrate diversity
BC producers keep our local food system strong
COVID-19 has highlighted the growing resilience of BC agriculture
all our communities up and
running again, and I believe
British Columbians will have a
new and greater awareness
and appreciation for the
economic, social and
community benets they
create when they Buy BC.
I’m also heartened to see
the enormous wave of
support from British
Columbians who are
passionate about BC’s food
system and want to be part of
our food security solution. As
a former small-scale farmer,
I’ve always felt the need for BC
to be more food self-sucient.
There is no doubt that the
pandemic, coupled with
existing threats like climate
change, oods and wildre, is
highlighting this need, but I
believe we are on the right
path.
As we move forward,
innovation and new
technology are critically
important in our ongoing
eorts to build a safe,
sustainable and resilient food
system. This will also help the
agriculture sector grow while
remaining competitive,
productive, and ecient.
Earlier this year, the Food
Security Task Force, appointed
by Premier Horgan, released a
report on the future of BCs
food system and we’re looking
at how we can best adopt
some of their
recommendations. As a
innovation and success from
all over the province.
Farmers, shers and
processors have had to nd
new markets and I’m so proud
of them for funding success in
unexpected places. Many of
the stories we’ve heard have
been about
hardships, but many
have also been about
creativity and
resilience. We’ve been
hearing about
unprecedented
support for Buy BC
and the domestic market
remains our most stable
option going forward.
Throughout the pandemic,
the partnership we’ve had
with people who grow,
process, distribute and sell our
food continues to indicate the
innovation and resiliency BCs
food producers are so well
known for. Together, we have
made progress on addressing
the labour supply, ensuring
thousands of temporary
foreign workers were able to
safely join BC farms and
companies for harvesting and
seasonal processing jobs. We
also developed the new BC
Farm, Fish and Food job
connector, a website that
proles all the opportunities
in BC food, to help connect
employers with the local
workforce.
We’ve helped BC
companies and farmers
markets expand their online
sales and worked with
processors through BC Food
and Beverage to ensure those
making our food have access
to quality personal protective
equipment.
The BC government is
working to get businesses in
Over the past few months,
COVID-19 has impacted all
our lives in one way or
another, including raising
questions about our food
supply and how we can
support the more than 63,000
British Columbians who help
put food on our tables.
BC farmers, ranchers,
shers, harvesters and food
processors are resilient by
nature and on behalf of all
British Columbians, I sincerely
thank you for facing these
new and unexpected
challenges head-on and
keeping food owing to our
homes.
Many of you have had to
adapt and make changes to
the way you work and sell
your goods, but in the face of
this pandemic the agricultural
backbone of our province is
still strong. You are providing
us with an abundance of
fresh, local food that keeps
our communities healthy.
As agriculture minister, I try
and visit as many people as
possible that work with the
200 commodities on land and
100 in the sea that are my
ministrys responsibility. In
these unique times, that’s
simply not doable. My sta
and I have instead been
reaching out since the
pandemic began and have
more than 6,000 connections.
Most important, we’ve been
listening not only to concerns
but hearing stories of
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 5
starting point, we established
the Agri-Tech Land Use
Secretariat to engage with
stakeholders and develop
policy recommendations that
will increase food security.
The secretariat will also
look at land-use opportunities
for agri-tech across the whole
province, not just in the
Agricultural Land Reserve. The
secretariat will report to me
and work closely with both
the ministry and the
Agricultural Land Commission.
There is lots of work to do and
I will be making sure it all
aligns with our government’s
core values of promoting
farming and protecting
farmland.
We have also been working
with ranchers, abattoir
operators and regional
governments to increase the
amount of locally raised meat
in rural communities to
support regional food
security. If we give consumers
and chefs more choices, its
better for our farmers and
food producers and makes us
more resilient.
It hasn’t been easy lately,
and I want to say a huge
thank-you to everyone
involved in the agriculture,
sh, food and beverage sector,
and a big thanks to all of you
who are choosing products
that are grown and made here
right here in BC.
My commitment to you is
that our government will keep
listening and continue to work
hard on our three pillars: Grow
BC, Feed BC and Buy BC.
We are all in this together
and we are all trying the best
we can.
Please continue to support
your fellow British Columbians
and make it the summer of
Buy BC!
Lana Popham is BC’s
Minister of Agriculture and a
former organic grower on the
Saanich Peninsula.
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BURNABY – A ght is
brewing over the province’s
decision to establish an Agri-
Tech Land Use Secretariat in
response to the nal report of
the food security task force
the BC Ministry of Agriculture
launched last year.
Wes Shoemaker, former
assistant deputy minister
within the ministry, has been
appointed to engage with
stakeholders to develop
policy recommendations” that
could result in the
designation of 28,500 acres
within the Agricultural Land
Reserve for a new agri-
industrial zone. Shoemaker
would also be responsible for
attracting companies to the
proposed zone.
But the move has drawn
criticism from farmland
advocates, including Jennifer
Dyson, chair of the
Agricultural Land
Commission.
“Respectfully, careful
consideration must be given
to future agricultural
innovation and the role in
which the ALR and ALC may
have, she said in a strongly
worded letter to Premier John
Horgan on March 9. The
commission would like to be
consulted before any decision
is made about potentially
increasing the impact of
processing and retail facilities
on the agricultural land base.
On May 19, shortly after
Shoemakers appointment
became known, 23 people
including former ALC chair
Richard Bullock and ve
former land commissioners
and sta members wrote
Horgan their own letter.
“For government to
facilitate and promote non-
farm uses within the ALR –
with no requirement that they
be tied to food production on
surrounding lands – ignores
the well-documented
negative impacts such uses
can have on surrounding
farms and the feasibility of
bringing more farmland into
production, the letter states.
To circumvent the ALC
endangers, rather than
enhances, BC’s food security.
Despite monthly
discussions with BC
agriculture minister Lana
Popham, Dyson says the ALC
has yet to be meaningfully
consulted.
The minister is allowing a
process to continue on, she
told Country Life in BC last
month.
Popham, for her part, said
government wasn’t following
the task force’s
recommendation to the
letter.
Were just looking for
ways to nd a place for that
to happen, she told a press
conference on May 28 in
response to a question about
the new zone. “Its not
necessarily on the
Agricultural Land Reserve …
it’s [not] going to take away
from the parts of agriculture
that we believe in so much.
Sta with the ministry
reached out to Country Life in
BC to reiterate that “the
Secretariat will look at land-
use opportunities in the
province as a whole rather
than at the ALR specically.
The assurances are cold
comfort to Shaundehl Runka,
whose term as a
commissioner ended in 2017
and was among those who
signed the May 19 letter.
Follow the arrow
Farmers market managers have struggled to keep up with COVID-19 protocols but were relieved early last
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Enderby Farmers Market provided hand sanitizer at the entrance and had the luxury of space to set up
vendors in a u-shape in the Splatsin Community Centre parking lot.
PHOTO / CATHY GLOVER
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8 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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“I’m not feeling a whole lot
better about where things
stand now, she says, noting
that the initiative has
proceeded with no public
documentation other than
the task force’s report and no
denition of what agritech
looks like in the context of the
ALR. Agritech to me is oces,
labs, research and
development facilities,
production facilities, parking
lots. That can occur
anywhere.
She also doesn’t know how
the task force could say there
was nowhere else for such
activities but within the ALR,
given that many existing stars
of BC’s agritech sector are
miles away. The province
touts Terramera Inc. as one of
its agritech successes, but it
calls downtown Vancouver
home and doesn’t expect its
pesticide-reduction
technology to be available in
Canada.
Wed often laugh and say,
‘Okay, so they’re saying X and
Y can’t happen because the
ALR exists. But its not true,
because the land use is
already taking place on other
land, says Runka, recalling
scenarios she encountered at
the land commission. “I think
it was a bit cart before the
horse in saying there was
nowhere for this land use to
go and the ALR was the best
place.
No land available
Yet with an industrial land
base of just 28,000 acres and
few new sites available, Metro
Vancouver – indeed, the
whole Lower Mainland –
simply doesn’t have 28,500
acres to set aside for agritech.
They wouldn’t nd the
amount of land they need in
Metro Vancouver, says Beth
Berry, vice-president,
industrial development with
Beedie Development Group
and chair of the development
issues committee of
commercial real estate
association NAIOP in
Vancouver. “It would be
amazing if we could nd agri-
industrial land, but the reality
is that the only place that
acreage is going to come
from is the ALR.
Metro Vancouver is
developing a regional
industrial lands strategy, but
declined comment on how
agri-industrial uses t in the
vision. However, its
agricultural advisory
committee – chaired by Mike
Manion, a champion of the
local agritech sector – has
expressed concern at the loss
of farmland and the potential
for non-agricultural
companies to use the zone.
To address the concerns,
Mission says it has 300 acres
of underutilized industrial
lands adjacent to its
downtown as well as 600
acres within the ALR the
secretariat should consider.
We should be looking to
solve some of those issues on
these lands, says Stacey
Crawford, economic
development director with
Mission. These will support
the work were doing to grow
responsibly.
But the province has yet to
share its vision with
municipalities.
Were doing our best to
stay engaged in those
discussions, but I can’t say
were getting a whole lot in
return, he says. “Its dicult to
sell policy when you’re not
clear on what the objectives
are.
Biosolids project
misguided
Editor:
Tom Walkers article “Biosolids project halted following
harassment” (June 2020, p. 17) is misleading and biased.
There was no “smear
campaign and the
harassment and
vandalism that
occurred were the
regrettable actions of
individuals not linked
to this process. If the Turtle Valley Bison Ranch lost
customers, perhaps it should have realized that its
clientele would not be interested in food produced on a
farm using biosolid sewage sludge.
Here are the facts: 35,000 tonnes of Class B biosolids
were to be applied to a 31-hectare site on a steep, logged
hillside. The application site borders Chum Lake and
Chum Creek, eventually ending up in the Thompson River
system.
The proponents, Turtle Valley Bison Ranch and
Nutrigrow/Arrow, describe this as a land reclamation
project, mixing biosolids with wood bre then hauling
roughly 700 B-train trucks up the steep, narrow, winding,
gravel road where it would be mixed on site with soil and
applied to a depth of one metre.
Even more alarming is the fact that the chosen location
sits at least partially on top of a 17.5 square kilometre
aquifer used by residents as a drinking water source. This
body is described in the BC Water Resources Atlas as
vulnerable, volatile and highly susceptible to surface
contamination.
While the landowner could have discussed the plan
with neighbours who might be directly or indirectly
aected, he chose not to do so. Community safety, quality
of life and property values were not considered in this
process.
Dissatised by the information provided by the plans
proponents and frustrated by response from local ocials,
provincial politicians, and government employees, the
group Turtle Valley Against Biosolids was formed.
Our small community of farmers, retirees, small acreage
owners and loggers found itself up against a corporate
heavyweight with lots of resources. We used all of the
tools available to us to stop the project before it started,
including petitions (2,800 signatures), letters to all levels of
government, local newspapers, protests and a blockade.
When the blockade was removed, the Secwepemc Water
Protectors from Neskonlith arrived to light a sacred re
and maintain their own blockade for the rest of the
summer.
The problem of what to do with the annually increasing
stockpile of sewage sludge in the form of biosolids is a
growing one. The application of Class B biosolids to
agricultural land is a risky and questionable process with
long-term implications that may not fully understood. The
list of toxic and harmful chemicals that can be present in
biosolids is long: pharmaceuticals, heavy metals,
hormone-mimicking compounds, bacteria, viruses,
solvent residues, microplastics etc. Many of these
compounds do not break down quickly but can remain in
soil for a very long time. Assessing risk potential is hard
because biosolids are not tested as hazardous materials
but only for a limited range of heavy metals, coliform, and
vectors.
While there is science that supports and promotes the
use of biosolids as fertilizer, there is also science that
would ban such practices. The contract that
Nutrigrow/Arrow has with the City of Kamloops amounts
to millions of dollars. This is big business and the pressure
to use easily accessible farm land will increase.
Connie Seaward
Salmon Arm
Letters
There are two sides to story
CLARIFICATION: An application to apply biosolids at Turtle Valley Bison Ranch
near Chase (“Biosolids project halted following harassment,” June 2020) had
support from both the elected band council and a number of hereditary chiefs
of the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band who are members of the Shuswap First
Nation. Opposition led by the Secwepemc Grassroots organization includes
individuals from a number of bands within Shuswap First Nation. Editor.
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Erin Harris of Kootenay Meadows Farm in Creston is lobbying the BC Dairy Association and milk marketing board
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 9
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KAMLOOPS – Two small
dairies are hoping theres
room in supply management
for an alternative way of
doing business that will keep
on-farm processors viable into
the future.
Laura Hunter of Blackwell
Dairy in Kamloops and Erin
Harris of Kootenay Meadows
Farm in the Creston Valley
reached out on Facebook
recently seeking support for
ideas to make supply
management more equitable
for small on-farm processors.
They also presented their
proposal to the BC Dairy
Association and BC Milk
Marketing Board.
Each of the farms produce
and process 12,000 to 15,000
litres of milk each week, with
the bulk of it going into uid
product.
Blackwell Dairy has
processed its own milk since
1983 and Kootenay Meadows
started about 15 years ago.
As part of the supply
management system, they are
required to sell their milk to
the BCMMB, then purchase it
back for processing.
The supply management
system works really well for
producers but being a small
processor, when were buying
our milk back, its costing a
signicant amount. Its about
a 35.5% mark-up on milk from
our tank to our processing
facility, says Harris. “On milk
that doesn’t ever leave the
farm; nobody touches it but
ourselves.
The farms also incur
producer fees on one end,
processing costs on the other
plus farming costs faced by all
farmers, leaving a slim prot
margin.
“I think why were aected
the most and why this hits us
pretty hard is both of our
plants produce 75% uid milk
product and uid milk is
priced the highest. So, we’re
putting the most money back
into the pool but were
getting it as a farm at the
pooled price, notes Hunter. “It
wasn’t always like this. When
we rst opened the plant
here, the margins weren’t that
far apart. If those margins get
further apart, it just puts us in
a position where we’ve got to
make nancial business
decisions.
The farms appreciate and
understand the importance of
supply management but
think there are other ways for
small on-farm processors to t
into the system.
One idea is to create an on-
farm processing class with
dierent pricing.
“Our proposal would be
that any milk that’s end use is
processing on-farm,
regardless of what you’re
making with it, should be
priced at the same price as
the farmer gets paid. So that,
basically, we’re producing
within our quota and were
accounting for where our milk
is and where it’s going, but
were not paying to buy our
milk back, explains Hunter.
That way it doesn’t harm the
pooled milk price at all but it
means that we as small
businesses can keep going.
The other idea is to
increase the volume cap on
milk processing under a
cottage industry licence and
include these processors in
the supply management
system.
Unique issues
BCMMB director David
Janssens says the board
understands small on-farm
processors face unique issues
that require unique solutions.
“Its in our strategic
planning agenda and were
certainly aware of the
challenges they face. Its a
question of working through
what can we do, Janssens
says. The problem is that the
proposed ideas are contrary
to the board’s founding
principle of fairness for all
producers and processors.
Harris says a recent BC
Dairy Industry Development
Council plebiscite prompted
them to explore their options.
She says the plebiscite is
eectively asking them to
subsidize large processors –
their competition.
BCDA general manager
Jeremy Dunn says the
plebiscite was held to
approve a new plan for the
DIDC, which includes
enabling the DIDC directors
Small on-farm
dairy processors
raise concerns
Producers want break for fluid
milk that doesn’t leave the farm
to consider investing in
processing initiatives on
behalf of BC producers.
“Investments would be
made according to a set of
strict criteria and all
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MATT CAMERON 250-200-1199
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@
landquest.com
processing-related projects, large
or small, would have an
opportunity to be considered, he
explains. “Eighty-nine per cent of
dairy producers who participated
in the plebiscite voted yes.
Important role
Harris wants to see more
support for small on-farm
processors because they have a
key role to play, too.
Were an important part in a
resilient food system if and when
we have another situation like
COVID, she says. “It is easier for a
small plant to pivot quicker than
it is for some of the large
processors so we really lled in a
gap when they could not service
the market.
The farms were able to
continuing supplying their
customers, including large
grocery stores and boutique
stores, throughout the COVID-19
outbreak and even provided
product to areas running short.
With the system right now, it
doesn’t encourage or support
the uid milk. In a time like this, especially, we can
see how small processors such as ourselves are
super important to the industry because there is a
need for uid milk, adds Hunter.
Harris says they are committed to lobbying for
change because their future, and the future of small
on-farm processing in BC, depends on ensuring
their bottom line doesn’t get smaller.
“Right now, its sort of just our two farms working
together but it would impact anyone that wants to
start on-farm processing. It really disincentivizes
local, on-farm processing of milk, she says.
Tough gig
Janssens says BCMMB’s cottage industry
program is designed to give a start to small on-farm
processors but admits there has been little interest.
There hasn’t been a lot of uptake on it, to be
perfectly honest, because its a lot of work milking
cows all day and then processing it and trying to
sell it, he says. The uid milk racket is a tough gig.
Morningstar Farm completed its 15-year run in
the cottage industry program in 2016.
Co-owner Ray Gourlay says the 20-year-old farm is
now part of the supply management system,
producing and processing 1,500-
1,800 litres of milk on farm per
day. Gourlay says the BCDA and
BCMMB provide invaluable
contributions to the industry
that he is happy to help fund.
But he also sees the need for
the organizations to be creative
about diversifying the industry
by encouraging more on-farm
processors and agri-tourism.
“Its fantastic marketing and
education for customers and
consumers. It helps make our
whole processing infrastructure,
our whole processing systems,
more resilient, particularly when
we have massive disruptions in
our supply chain, Gourlay adds.
Agriculture minister Lana
Popham says dairy producers
and processors of every size are
key to vibrant local food
systems.
“I look forward to continuing
to work with dairies and dairy
producers of all sizes and scales
to ensure that the industry
continues to grow, thrive and
provide food security for all
British Columbians, she says.
The ideas presented by the two farms were on
the agenda for discussion at the BCDAs June 17
meeting.
The farms stress that they are not seeking a
hand-out.
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 Harris. We want to
not have a system that’s creating this massive
nancial burden that could ruin our businesses.
Kootenay Meadows Farm pays the same amount for uid milk as large processors, even though the milk
never leaves the farm before it is bottled. PHOTO / THOMAS NOWACZYNSKI
MORE support needed for on-farm processors nfrom page 9
Zoning bylaw
limits urban
farmers
Mission faces criticism for rural
residential laws
Judy Kenzie, with her son Ethan, says Mission’s rural residential bylaws are badly written and over-reaching and
she is lobbying for change as the district updates its zoning bylaw. PHOTO / FLO QUINN
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MISSION – Judy Kenzie
moved to a two-acre
property in Mission in 2015
hoping to grow her seed
business, Strathcona 1890,
into a small-scale farm.
During the rst two years
she planted fruit trees,
established a small chicken
ock and made plans. Then,
in 2017, neighbours moved
onto the lot next door with
the same zoning, built a large
home and began
complaining.
“[District planners] have
combined rural residential
with small-scale agriculture
[in one zone], which is a really
bad idea, she says. There are
also properties zoned for
general agriculture in these
same areas.
Kenzie had to remove her
rooster and the guardian
donkey for her livestock. The
goats she kept during the
summer for weed control also
had to be removed because
of complaints.
While the situation got her
goat, Kenzie is ghting back.
“Because I moved here
specically to create local
food sovereignty, I decided I
needed to ght against badly
written, over-reaching laws,
she says. “People don’t even
know they are doing
something wrong until a
complaint is led.
She soon learned that
being in Mission’s rural
residential zone (RR7) didn’t
give her the right to farm the
way she wanted. The zone
includes rural properties
outside the Agricultural Land
Reserve, where farming is a
primary and protected use.
RR7 species residential as
the primary use while small-
scale agriculture is permitted
as an accessory use. Property
owners are permitted to keep
bees, one cow, one horse and
nine hens per 0.88 acre. Goats
and other livestock are not
explicitly allowed; as a result,
district planners say they’re
prohibited.
Moreover, since small-scale
agriculture is an accessory
use, zoning doesn’t allow the
storage of equipment related
to agricultural activities.
Kenzie thought creating an
agricultural advisory
committee would help
address the issues small-scale
farmers in the district face.
Council considered a motion
to create such a committee at
its June 1 meeting, but the
motion was withdrawn. She
suspects a reference to urban
agriculture led to its demise.
Mission mayor Pam Alexis
conrmed this, explaining
that including urban
beekeeping and backyard
hens in the denition
alongside small-scale
agriculture was the issue. She
says residents who keep bees
and chickens are a dierent
group from small-scale
farmers.
Thats why it wasnt
supported at the council
table, says Alexis. An
agricultural committee
doesn’t satisfy, necessarily,
the two very dierent
requirements and needs of
the two groups.
But change is coming. The
district has been working to
update its zoning bylaw for
the past two years. The
current draft maintains
residential as the primary use
within RR7. Small-scale
farming – now designated
agriculture (minor)”
remains an accessory use, but
the bylaw updates the zoning
provisions to explicitly allow
ducks, geese, goats, sheep,
llamas and alpacas among
permitted livestock. The
storage of farm equipment
up to 35 horsepower will also
be allowed if the bylaw is
adopted.
A date for nal reading has
yet to be set. District council
will review the bylaw,
See ZONING on next page
o
Don’t
forget
to
RENEW
your
Subscription.
ZONING bylaw is under review nfrom page 11
12 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
including changes aecting
RR7 properties, at a workshop
on June 29. A report on small-
scale urban agriculture will be
a separate project of the
bylaw update, and sta will
prepare a separate report
regarding it.
“Council can look at the
feedback received from those
in the rural parts of Mission
who say they want to have
more animals included or
farm implements, says Alexis.
We are trying to make some
changes with respect to that
particular bylaw.
Still, the pledge doesn’t
make Kenzie happy.
“Mission has been really
sneaky about this in my
opinion, she says, noting
theres no denition of small-
scale agriculture in the
zoning section of the bylaws.
Instead, the denition,
including the kind and
number of animals permitted,
is in the denitions section of
the bylaw.
Theres also no limit on
house sizes in RR7 or
anywhere else in the district,
so long as height, setbacks
and site coverage restrictions
are respected. This eectively
allows owners of RR7
properties to build what
Kenzie calls “trophy houses
that can have a footprint of
up to 11,300 square feet.
Mission expects to have
55,678 residents by 2041, a
43% increase from just over
38,800 today. Alexis believes
RR7 acreages will become
quite precious as a result.
There’s two kinds of
people, I think, coming to
Mission, says Alexis. “One that
is very attracted to the
acreage parcels and wanting
that kind of simple life and
working with soil and animals
and all that, then theres
those that really want that
piece of heaven.
Other farmers in Mission
aren’t experiencing the same
challenges as Kenzie, but they
also face limitations.
James MacNamara of
Larkspur Nursery also has two
acres within RR7. He
produces plants that he sells
at farmers’ markets. He also
has a few laying hens. While
he has thought about adding
an aquaponics operation, he
hasn’t done so because the
zoning doesn’t allow it.
“Youre not allowed to do
that unless you’re on rural
property, he says (rural
zoning is separate from rural
residential). “I get along with
my neighbours. I don’t make
a lot of noise. I don’t make
any smells.
Mission councillor Ken Herar
believes a trial of some
agricultural aspects may
allow the district to see what
will work for the RR7 zone
and identify potential issues.
We don’t have all the
information on the pros and
cons of this, he says. Were
forgetting about farming and
how it’s often the base of our
local community.
Kenzie wants to grow her
business to include soaps
made from goat milk. But
goats aren’t allowed under
the current zoning bylaw and
the draft bylaw, if approved,
will allow just two goats.
That’s hardly enough to
support a small-scale dairy.
Alexis says council is on it.
“Its a great time to have a
conversation about
sustainability and food
security and all of that, she
says. Theres lots going on in
the background and were
well aware of what certain
people in the community are
wanting.
Kenzie says the state of the
world means Mission needs
to get on with it.
The current pandemic
had demonstrated how
fragile our supply chains are,
she says. We do not have
decades or even years to
make local, sustainable food
resources a priority.
Kelowna
readies
exclusion
bid
Kelowna wants the
Agricultural Land
Commission to approve
the exclusion of 40 acres
for a new and expanded
regional transit facility at
4690 Highway 97 North,
adjacent to UBC
Okanagan.
The expansion would
allow for increased
transit service in order to
meet long-term transit
demand in the Central
Okanagan, says the city
in information provided
as part of a public
consultation on the lands
that wrapped up June 30.
The tract is part of a
140-acre property the
city acquired in 2017 for
$11 million. It did so with
a vision of creating new
public spaces, improving
drainage in the area and
balancing development
with agriculture.
The city is committed
to working with the
Agricultural Land
Commission to identify
opportunities to improve
agriculture as outlined in
the citys agricultural
plan, city director of
strategic investments
Derek Edstrom said at
the time.
The city now says the
soil is of poor quality,
noting that the site has
long been deemed ripe
for removal.
“In 1995, the
Agricultural Land
Commission
acknowledged the site to
be seriously
compromised for long
term agricultural use
based on the isolation of
the property and
proximity of the
university lands to the
north, it says.
However, it hasn’t
ruled out agriculture on
the remaining lands,
which includes a small
lake and marsh.
We are hopeful that
innovative farm use may
emerge on the remnant
lands, it says.
The city planned to
submit an application in
June and review
feedback from the
consultation sessions this
summer. It expects the
ALC to consider the
application this fall, with
a decision anticipated in
November.
—Peter Mitham
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Blueberry grower and packer Rhonda Driediger says it’s time for BC growers to think about replanting their elds
with newer varieties that will give them a competitive edge in the global market. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 13
Global market puts emphasis on top-quality fruit
Growers, packers need to work
together to boost returns
by PETER MITHAM
ABBOTSFORD – Prior to the
Great Recession, BC blueberry
farmers regularly saw more
than a dollar a pound for
their fruit. Over the past
decade, the average was 94
cents a pound, but last year it
dipped to 88 cents.
To reverse the trend,
growers and packers
emphasized the importance
of boosting quality as foreign
competitors take aim at the
domestic market.
“Quality is a really critical
part of our industry, and it’s
going to become even more
important going forward,
Travis Drew, president of
Valley Select Foods Inc. in
Abbotsford, said during a
panel discussion at the Pacic
Agriculture Show in
Abbotsford at the beginning
of February.
A key reason is that
volumes around the world
are increasing, a
phenomenon that was the
topic of much discussion
when the International
Blueberry Organization met
for its summit in Richmond
last summer. BC growers were
already harvesting their
berries during the summit,
eventually pulling o a record
190 million tons of fruit.
Other regions have logged
incredible growth, too,
creating a crowded market
and slower sales.
Traditionally, especially in
the frozen market, people
would contract to take so
many pounds, explains Drew.
Were starting to see those
large buyers holding out a lot
longer now to commit to that
volume and, along with that,
were seeing people waiting a
lot longer to take that
volume. It’s helping them
with their nancing [but]
holding on to their money
longer is aecting everyone
down the supply chain.
Rhonda Driediger of
Driediger Farms Ltd. in
Langley agreed, noting that
buyers are not only holding
out longer, theyre also taking
longer to pay with some
seeking 120-day payment
terms.
This payment pressure may
push packers to nd buyers
who pay faster, something
Driediger has been able to
do, but fruit quality still has to
be there.
We all know that when
theres a lot of something,
whatever it is, the buyer will
always take the best, says
John Quapp, who worked
closely with berry growers
during his career at Natures
Touch Frozen Foods Inc. in
Abbotsford. Were now in a
situation where theres an
ample supply of blueberries
and the growers that have
the quality will sell easier
than the growers who don’t.
Boosting quality requires
packers and growers to work
hand-in-hand,
communicating regularly
with a view to supporting
each others operations.
“Both the packers and the
growers have to work
together to try and maximize
the number of dollars and the
number of pounds we can
sell in the global market, says
Drew, noting that many
buyers seek out blueberries
from BC on account of their
quality. “If we can get the best
quality out of every berry that
we can, then were going to
get the best amount of return
out of each berry.
Growers have to act fast,
though, so that packers like
Driediger can get fresh fruit
to market in the best shape
possible. This may mean
delivering fruit ve times a
day, rather than once.
Work with your packer to
make sure everything gets
processed on time, gets
packed on time, so we can
continue to try to get that
high value, she tells growers.
We have 10 days to move
product. So we receive it, we
have to pack it, cool it, get it
on a truck to a customer and
sold and get paid for that
product at the highest value
that we can to return you the
highest value that we can.
Growers shouldnt consider
frozen or processed fruit as
an alternative. While some
growers predict a larger
volume of fruit will go for
processing this year as a
result of labour shortages,
she says fresh is where the
moneys at.
We can’t lose our fresh
market because that takes up
a huge part of our volume,
and if we all turn to
processing … we’ll see our
prices go down, she says.
“Fresh supports that higher
price in the market.
While labour is a long-term
challenge, growers will be
compounding the issues they
face if they can’t justify the
prices they need with high
quality.
“I think that’s a collective
discussion that were going to
have over the next ve to 10
years, she says.
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With a global market facing abundance
and domestic elds facing a tight labour
situation, some BC blueberry growers are
paring their production plans this year.
But speakers at the Pacic Agriculture
Show in February suggested that growers
seize the moment and replant their elds
with new, more desirable varieties.
With prices going downhill as they are
… now is probably a good time to pull out
varieties that are may be questionable in
quality, says John Quapp, now retired from
Natures Touch Frozen Foods Inc. in
Abbotsford. “Now may be a good time to
replant with the good-quality varieties …
because that’s going to sell easier.
But many growers are still relying on
Bluecrop, Duke and Eureka and haven’t
upgraded their plantings.
“How many people are planting Calypso,
Valor, Last Call? Not a lot of hands. You
should be, says Rhonda Driediger of
Driediger Farms Ltd. in Langley. “Bluecrop
isn’t going to make it for fresh any more.
The changes aren’t just because the local
production has increased but because
theres a world of growers looking for
markets, including Mexico, which is both a
key trading partner with Canada and a
competitor.
Were up against amazing fruit from
Mexico and they’re gunning for our season,
she said. You have to start converting. …
We’re just not going to have the buer
[room] anymore.
—Peter Mitham
Time to renew
HAPPY
CANADA
DAY
14 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Leaming confident fruit industry can rejuvenate
Longtime fieldperson reflects on 35-year career as she heads into retirement
Charlotte Leaming says she loved working with growers during her career in the tree fruit industry. She retired this spring. PHOTO / TOM WALKER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 15
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KELOWNA – It seems tting
that Charlotte Leamings
career in agriculture began
with the recommendation of
an advisor. As a eld services
consultant, advising others
has been her vocation ever
since.
“I was just a kid who grew
up in suburban Richmond,
says Leaming. “My parents
weren’t farmers, but we would
come up in the summer and
visit my grandfathers farm in
Kelowna.
An academic advisor
steered her in the right
direction.
“It was that time of my life
when I was trying to decide
what to do. Id taken a couple
of years of university and a
vocational counsellor
suggested I try the Food
Production Technology
diploma program at BCIT,
recalls Leaming. The summer
after rst year in 1980, I came
up and worked for Buck
Barkwill in his Summerland
orchard.
It was hard work, moving
irrigation pipes and hand-
thinning apricots, but
Leaming had found her place.
When I got to that
orchard, I realized I really liked
what I was doing, she recalls.
“I’ve always thought that
somehow I was smart enough
to know that if I liked all the
stu at the bottom of the
ladder, I’d probably have stu
to learn and things I’d like to
do for the rest of my life.
After receiving her
diploma, she went back to
work with Barkwill and his
cousin Jack, and stayed in the
Okanagan for a couple of
years.
Working with Jack was the
start of my life-long learning
process, she says.
She has since studied fruit
growing and worked in
several countries, combining
the experiences with local
knowledge to help the BC
industry grow.
Her rst stint with a major
packing house was seasonal
eld service with BC Fruit
Packers in Summerland in
1985. Leaming went on to
work as a tree fruit pest
management consultant,
including a contract with CF
Fresh, an organic brokerage in
Washington State.
After a three-year sojourn
out of the valley, she returned
in 2001 to work for Sun Fresh
Cooperative. When it
amalgamated with BC Tree
Fruits in 2008, Leaming
continued on until her
retirement this year, on April
30.
“I’ve always loved working
with the growers, says
Leaming. “I try to be helpful in
any way.
She says her connections
with farms across the industry
have allowed her to share
information, support a new
idea, or sometimes
discourage it.
They all work so
independently, so to have the
opportunity to talk to
someone about your plans
and bounce ideas back and
forth – I love doing that, she
says.
Leaming leased her own
orchard for a number of years
before she had a full-time
contract. It helped her to gain
See LEAMING on next page
o
LEAMING leaving nfrom page 15
16 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Research and practical demonstrations show that
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E\nKi\\=il`kMXi`\k`\j
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But the intensity of the job
has not left time for the dual
roles of grower and eld
service.
“I have had a single one-
week summer holiday in my
entire career, she says.
The role of a support
person can have a downside.
There are orchards that
make my heart sing and
orchards that make me want
to cry, Leaming says. You can
make a recommendation, but
you don’t actually do the
work. It is up to the grower
and if they don’t follow
through, that can be
frustrating.
Okanagan orchardists do a
number of things very well,
says Leaming.
Ambrosia has a lot to do
with our recent
achievements, she says. “It is
pretty major for an industry to
have such success with a new
variety.
But a lot of things had to
fall into place for that to work,
she explains, starting with the
super spindle orchard
architecture common in the
Okanagan.
Ambrosia on super spindle
is a match made in heaven,
she says.
The rst Okanagan
plantings were three feet
apart on 12-foot rows and the
closest she has seen recently
are trees 18 inches apart on
nine-foot rows.
We learned a lot about
tree physiology, how to grow
this tall column with virtually
no branches and keep it
producing young fresh buds,
she says.
Leaming notes that super
spindle architecture has stood
the test of time so well that
some trees are now suering
from old age in some
orchards.
The development of
SmartFresh, a treatment that
slows apple ripening in
storage, was also a key.
“It came just when we
needed to lengthen the
storage time for Ambrosia,
says Leaming.
The New Tree Fruit Varieties
Development Council
subcontracted Leaming from
BC Tree Fruits for a couple of
years to be the Ambrosia
coordinator.
“I love Ambrosia. I was
honoured, she says. “I helped
develop some standard
operating procedures for
Ambrosia and increase the
awareness of what needed to
be done to keep the quality
of Ambrosia up.
Falling returns
But returns for Ambrosia
growers have fallen as the
volume of plantings expands.
Growers are beginning to
wonder about the future.
BC also grows very good
cherries, Leaming notes, but
the cherry industry may be in
line for the same kind of
change the apple industry
has experienced.
“Our industry is quite
committed to Mazzard
rootstocks that grow big trees
and big fruit, she notes.
However, they’re more
labour-intensive and labour is
a growing issue worldwide.
Leaming recalls an
International Fruit Tree
Association trip to South
America.
“Both Chile and Argentina
rated labour as their number
one issue, she says. And like
us, they went to their closest
poorer neighbour for
workers.
The industry is in need of a
rejuvenation, Leaming says.
“I know we can do it. We’ve
done it before, she says. “But
I’m not sure what that looks
like. Perhaps if I did, I might
stay a few years and help
implement it.
She continues to support
the training of new quality
standards sta at BC Tree
Fruits a couple of days a week
and will continue a weekly
newsletter to growers until
the end of the season.
“Right now, I can’t wait
until September when I am
totally free, she says.
If she were granted one
nal wish for the industry,
Leaming says it would be for
the co-op to ourish.
“I really hope for a thriving
of the cooperative again, she
says. “[But] in order to get
that, we need change from
the grower through to the
packinghouse and sales
practice.
Book club
Sophia Hoessl, 8, of Horsey, may be missing her school friends during the COVID-19 pandemic but
she’s found plenty on the family ranch for companionship.
PHOTO / AMBER HOESSL
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Review of vegetable commission forges ahead
Governance, storage crop allocation are key issues in supervisory review
by PETER MITHAM
SURREY – A supervisory review of the BC
Vegetable Marketing Commission is forging ahead
despite an underwhelming response from industry
members.
The review, launched in April by the supervisory
panel of the BC Farm Industry Review Board,
focuses on the commissions governance and
structure, the accountability of designated
marketing agencies and the methodology for
determining storage crop delivery allocations.
The topics reect a number of recent appeals
FIRB has heard in recent years and related industry
issues. One sequence of appeals relates to an order
and decision the commission issued against Prokam
Enterprises Ltd. and Thomas Fresh Inc. in 2017, and
which has exposed the commissions over-reliance
on minimum pricing to ensure an orderly marketing
environment for regulated crops as well as the need
for commission decisions to be free from the
apprehension of bias.
An initial request for feedback was issued on
April 3, with submissions requested by April 30.
Speaking at the commission’s annual general
meeting on April 29, supervisory panel chair
Daphne Stancil encouraged the 46 stakeholders
present to weigh in.
This is your chance through this review to get
your input in, so we can get a pretty tight package
for recommendations and outcomes, she said.
However, of the more than 155 stakeholders
contacted, including 105 registered growers and 17
agencies, just eight responded. While the results
generally supported the direction of the review, a
report on May 15 indicated that eight responses
were “not enough to fully represent the industry or
to provide the panel the kind of guidance” it
needed. A second request for feedback was
circulated with a deadline of May 29.
The results were to be discussed at a meeting on
June 9, with a view to establishing the consultation
process. A timeline has not been established for
completing the work, which is being further
complicated by COVID-19.
Besides Stancil, the supervisory panel includes
Tamara Leigh and Dennis Lapierre. While Stancil’s
time with FIRB ends July 31, regulations provide a
means to allow her to complete work begun during
her term.
The supervisory review is happening alongside
other initiatives aimed at reforming the
commissions activities. Advisory groups have been
set up to advise commissioners and two
independent members are being appointed to
boost decision-making capacity while limiting the
perception of bias among commissioners.
With the structure of the commission being
composed of elected producers, everyone knows
that the legislation is prepared to accept a
signicant degree of conict of interest to ensure
that industry knowledge and expertise is preserved,
commission general manager Andre Solymosi told
members.
However, he said the commission also has to
“facilitate a sound decision-making process” that is
both free from the apprehension of bias yet remains
informed and sensitive to the interests of both
industry and the public.
We have been recusing certain elected
members from having access to information and
participating in any discussion or decision-making
on issues before the commission, Solymosi
explained, noting that a similar accountability is
expected of designated agencies.
The commission also continues to pursue a
strategic planning initiative. Originally launched last
year, it’s now being revamped following an
extensive round of consultations that engaged with
65% of the sector but failed to complete.
“It was evident that much more work was needed
to go forward, commission chair Debbie Etsell said.
The commission is working towards presenting to
producers and industry a practical and eective
plan as soon as possible.
The commission has a shortlist of candidates to
complete the project, which was originally expected
to happen last fall.
BC Vegetable Marketing Commission chair Debbie Etsell
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Record funding pledged for coupon program
The BC farmers’ market
nutrition coupon program is
being backed by nearly $1.9
million in provincial funding
this year – a new record.
BC health minister Adrian
Dix announced the funding
on June 5.
“It is so important to
ensure the farmers market is
everyone's farmers' market,
he told market managers in a
conference call organized to
break the news. “Markets are
for everybody.
Dix says the funding,
administered by the BC
Association of Farmers
Markets, meets both health
and community objectives.
The province is committed to
supporting the program in
the years to come, he adds.
Participants will receive $21
a week through
November 15 to
purchase BC-
grown
vegetables, fruits,
nuts, eggs, dairy
products, herbs,
meat and sh at
markets in 79 communities
across BC. This is up 29% from
$16.22 a week last year.
Coupons can also be applied
to online purchases at the 64
markets that oer this sales
channel.
A total of 6,000 low-income
households and 18,000
people, including expectant
mothers and seniors, are
expected to benet. This is
approximately double what it
was in 2018 and a 300%
increase from 2012.
BC agriculture minister
Lana Popham participated in
the announcement, saying
the program helps support
local farmers during what has
been a challenging year
trying to gauge demand. She
calls herself “Polly-Lana,
saying she likes to see the
silver lining in bad situations.
This is a case in point.
"People are more
connected to food, now more
than ever, she says. “I have so
much pride when I go to
farmers' markets and see the
changes that have been
made.
We are so grateful to the
program, it provides so much
to our community, says Rob
Pingle of the Tuesday market
on Salt Spring Island.
However, the program isn’t
a cure-all.
Pingle said COVID-19
continues to have a negative
eect on market operations.
Operating expenses are up
6% while income is down 50%
because it had to relocate and
physical distancing measures
mean fewer vendors can
participate at the new
location.
Other markets have also
seen a decline in vendors,
with some seeing operating
income fall by 75%.
—Barbara Johnstone
Grimmer
Province boosts
online grants
Overwhelming demand for
provincial funding to support
online sales activities has led
the province to add $250,000
to e-commerce grants
provided as part of the Buy
BC program.
The program reached
capacity in just two business
days after applications began
being accepted on May 15.
Applications continued to
pour in, however, as the
original deadline was May 29.
The demand was so great
that it was clear we needed to
help more businesses move
online so they can sell their
products direct to consumers
across the province, said
agriculture minister Lana
Popham in announcing the
additional funding, which
boosts total program funding
to $550,000.
She says the top-up is nal
and no new applications will
be accepted to the program,
which requires recipients to
spend grants by September 30.
The funding will support
development of websites that
allow for online sales and will
cover the cost of publicizing
the option and shipping
costs. Grants will cover up to
$2,000 in packaging costs
associated with online
shipments and advertising
costs to a maximum of $1,000.
Successful applicants can
receive up to $5,000 apiece,
meaning the program will
support at least 110 agri-food
businesses across BC.
Investment Agriculture
Foundation of BC, which is
administering the program,
received a total of 304
applications, 140 of which
arrived in the rst hour.
Funding was approved for
109 applicants, including 44
producers and 65 processors,
on a rst come, rst served
basis.
—Peter Mitham
Organic matter
regulation
delayed
Chalk up delays in the
provinces revision of the
Organic Matter Recycling
Regulation to COVID-19.
We were anticipating
regulatory updates to occur in
fall 2020. However, at this
point we are expecting this
do be delayed due to
COVID-19, the BC Ministry of
Environment and Climate
Change Strategy told Country
Life in BC.
The regulation is signicant
because of its role in
managing composting
activities and the application
of biosolids. Originally
promulgated in 2002, the
regulation addresses “the
recycling of organic material
while protecting human
health and the environment.
Two intentions papers, one in
September 2016 and another
in September 2018, have
been issued for discussion
with a view to updating the
regulation based on the best
and most current science.
Proposed policies include
increased public transparency
and information sharing,
including specic
requirements with respect to
notifying and engaging with
First Nations and local
governments.
The report on the most
recent consultation
recommended steps to
reduce the risk of introducing
invasive weeds via compost
and the development of
communications materials for
ranchers and farmers
considering applying
biosolids. Biosolids were a hot
topic in the consultation,
frequently featuring as
something that shouldn’t be
applied at all.
A spokesperson with the
environment ministry says
that most feedback
supported the proposed
changes, however, and will
shape the new regulation.
—Peter Mitham
Ag Briefs
EDITED BY PETER MITHAM
Ralph and Tina Gerlitsch plan to operate their microgreens business for a few more years but say they are thinking about their exit strategy as well. Their
biggest advice to others is answering: “What is the need out there?” If you can gure that out, they say, the chances are good that you will have a
successful business. PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 19
Little & Large, Local & Long, Europe & N. America
Port to Dealer, Farm to Farm & Anything in Between
by MYRNA STARK LEADER
KELOWNA – In five years,
with no traditional
agriculture experience, Tina
and Ralph Gerlitsch have
built a certified organic
microgreen business which
supports them in their urban
backyard.
After spending most of her
career in the service industry,
Tina was bookkeeping for a
compost operation and
dabbling in worm farming on
the side. Shed been demoing
the value of worm castings as
a natural plant growth
promoter at a local retailer
when she noticed the pea
shoots she was growing to
show off the casting product
weren’t widely available at
local grocers.
So, she took one day a
week away from her paid
work to experiment growing
shoots. Family and friends
liked them so much she knew
shed hit on something with
value.
As I learned more and
about the nutrient value of
microgreens, I wanted to be
first to the grocery store
market in Kelowna, explains
Tina.
Avenue M, named for
Mountain Avenue where they
live, was born. The 700-
square-foot operation now
produces 130 trays of fresh,
healthy greens a week. The
greens sell at farmers
markets and at select local
grocers.
Consumers in their 20s and
30s understand that
microgreens are packed with
nutrients. An ounce of
broccoli microgreens has the
equivalent nutrient value of
1.5 pounds of broccoli florets,
for example, making them
appealing to people
following plant-based diets,
children who don’t enjoy
veggies and those looking for
more options as they aim for
a higher percentage of
greens on their plates.
At first, I thought if we can
sell enough to earn enough
for a six pack of beer a week
that would be good, says
Ralph, who was working
fulltime as a component
technician in the aviation
industry when the business
launched. “But within a few
months, the man cave – my
shop directly behind our
bungalow where I worked on
snowmobiles and stuff – was
reconfigured as a production
facility.
A combination of hard
work and a temperature of
78-80°F and 40% to 50%
humidity enables them to
grow and harvest a crop
about every eight days, year-
round. While they tried many
different seeds, they focus on
pea, broccoli (the most
popular), sunflower (high in
protein), mustard, kale and
radish. Broccoli, kale and
purple kohlrabi are sold
individually and as part of a
mix.
We strive to be consistent
with good product,
consistently delivered on
time, which is what helps to
differentiate us, says Ralph.
Avenue M uses certified
organic, non-GMO seeds
sourced from Mumms
Sprouting Seeds in Parkside,
Saskatchewan. They chose
this supplier because of its
strong organic reputation,
product consistency and cost
effectiveness.
Their product is packaged
Kelowna couple sprouts successful business
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in recyclable clamshells
because single-use plastic
bags made the product
sweat, an unattractive feature
on store shelves. They’ve
been looking for an eco-
friendly solution suitable for
retail which wouldn’t increase
the shelf price and is also
properly processed but that’s
been difficult. Their labels are
created locally and affixed by
Tinas mom.
They firmly believe one of
the keys to Avenue M’s
success is establishing a
market for the product before
producing it. Their greens are
now stocked at Natures Fare
Markets, Choices Market in
Kelowna, Peters
Independent, Lakeshore
Market and Quality Greens as
well as to several restaurants.
We didn’t take on a new
client until we were sure we
could meet their
expectations. That means
ensuring supplies of inputs
and coordinating processing
and delivery, says Tina.
They also sell at the
Kelowna farmers market as
space allows; they have yet to receive a permanent spot.
“Every week, you have to book a spot and you don’t find out until late in the
week, so you need to have product ready but aren’t guaranteed sales which is
something that’s been a challenge for us, says Tina.
Today, Avenue M is the couples sole source of income. While the two have
very different personalities – hes a linear thinker, shes creative – they’ve
managed to make it work.
We work together pretty efficiently now so seeding, growing, harvesting
and packaging happen pretty easily and seamlessly, says Tina glancing at
Ralph with a smile.
When she hears of new
growers in the marketplace,
she hopes theyre being
strategic. COVID-19 has
highlighted the risk of
focusing on just one kind of
buyer, such as restaurants.
Tina says she’s learned to
be more flexible and
sometimes just accept that
there are things you can’t
control. She recalls being
turned away with a delivery
in West Kelowna because the
store was closing.
Another important success
factor has been continuously
building and nurturing
relationships.
“You need to talk with the
local produce managers and
staff who look after your
product so that when his
boss comes looking to trim to
get shelf space, yours isn’t the
product to go. … You need to
spend time asking about kids
and family. I see them every
week. They do become
friends, says Tina.
The Gerlitsches sees year-
round food production in a
controlled environment gaining importance as people seek personal food
sovereignty.
The big advantage with microgreens is that you don’t need expensive
grow lights … they don’t need any nutrition from the sun. Cost-wise for
nutritional value, these are off the charts compared to eating the plant once
it’s grown, says Tina.
Were a good example that anyone can create a business as long as they
have resilience and genuine interest in learning, says Ralph. We really love
what we do.
Tina Gerlitsch, right, says COVID-19 has had limited impact on sales at the local farmers market but Avenue M is
just starting to get into online marketing. PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
Carmen and Glen Wakeling of Eatmore Sprouts and Greens. PHOTO / BOOMER JERRITT
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 21
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COURTENAY – COVID-19
has been a mixed bag for
sprout and microgreen
growers but its also
highlighted the need for a
stronger industry association.
Carmen Wakeling, owner of
Eatmore Sprouts and Greens
Ltd. in Courtenay, is president
of the US-based International
Sprout Growers Association.
Eatmore has been operating
for 45 years and its retail sales
have stayed strong, even with
the loss of many restaurant
and wholesale customers as a
result of COVID-19.
“In the USA, COVID-19
followed a substantial recall of
clover sprouts for E. coli O103.
… Even though there are
challenges for our producers
in BC, Canada and
internationally, its also the
time to start thinking about
how we do things dierently
across the industry, says
Wakeling.
One positive step would be
a better understanding of
who is producing sprouts and
microgreens both in BC and
Canada to help create a more
accurate picture of the
industry. Its partly why she
and Lisa Mumm, owner of
Mumms Sprouting Seeds in
Parkside, Saskatchewan,
spearheaded Sprouts and
Microgreens Canada in 2016.
The organization is a
subcommittee of the Small-
Scale Food Processor
Association, a national trade
association based in Nanaimo.
We were fairly low key
until late last year because
we’ve now recognized
microgreen growers across
the country need support to
understand more about crop
management, including
potential risks, some of which
have been highlighted with
COVID, she explains.
Sprouting seed
requirements are quite
dierent from other crops, for
example. Mumms is the only
Canadian supplier Wakeling
knows that specializes in
sourcing and growing organic
sprouting seed. This is good
for Mumms business but a
potential risk for the industry.
“If we can continue to build
a stronger association in
Canada, I feel we’d be more
equipped to manage industry
changes in the short, medium
and long term and build a
more resilient industry, says
Wakeling. A big challenge
with a small and diverse group
of producers is that it can be
like looking for a needle in a
haystack to connect with
growers so we are asking all
industry partners to help us.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 is
prompting growers to rethink
their business model. Some
BC growers are pursuing a
CSA (community-supported
agriculture) model, which
provides certainty in terms of
cash ow, while others are
pursuing direct delivery
options. Comox-based Love
Local Food Co. has been
distributing Eatmore Sprouts
products since launching in
April with a vision of
supporting local farmers and
businesses.
When restaurants suddenly
shut down in March, excess
Eatmore product was donated
to local food banks and
hamper programs such as
LUSH Valley and Cumberland
Food Share.
Although Eatmore adjusted
production to account for
lower demand from
restaurants, it continues to
grow a little extra for local
food security programs. Some
of the crop is donated and
some is paid for.
Wakeling says the
pandemic also highlighted
input supply security.
Hydrogen peroxide, used as
part of her seed sanitation
program, is a main ingredient
of sanitizer needed for
healthcare. She would be
stopped her in her tracks
without it so has made a
priority to ensure Eatmore
maintains an ample supply.
Getting products on and o
Vancouver Island with limited
airline and ferry service was
another big hurdle.
“Historically, we’ve shipped
all our testing to Vancouver
three times a week by air, says
Wakeling. “No product leaves
our facility without a clear test
result. Suddenly, we had to
add 24 hours transport time to
a process with very little
timeline wiggle room. We had
to go back to the drawing
board on some of our
production timing to
accommodate this.
Thankfully, she had another
option as well to support
some of Eatmores testing
requirements. FoodMetrics, an
ISO 17025-accredited testing
lab, opened in Courtenay in
2018 thanks to a three-way
partnership between the
Small-Scale Food Processor
Association, Intrisk Training
Solutions, and Biomedix, a
California-based company that
provided the equipment.
The idea of this lab is to
serve a much more local client
base so that we can alleviate
some of the issues around
having to ship time-sensitive
test samples to larger labs,
explains lab services manager
Spencer Serin. This is the rst
lab like this to be ISO
accredited, a nine-month
process. Now, we’re proving
the concept and hoping to
take this model to other rural
areas, really helping producers
who don’t have easy access to
testing to meet safe food
regulations.
Even in the midst of recent
events, Wakeling remains
positive about the future of
the industry.
The pandemic has boosted
interest in local food, and the
potential for aordable, year-
round production of
nutritious sprouts make them
an ideal t with current
concerns.
“Suddenly, there is a focus
on food security like we’ve
never seen before, Wakeling
says. “Given that our products
take about four or ve days to
grow, I think growers have an
opportunity to put this crop
forward as a healthy, wise
alternative to imported
greens, especially during
winter months when other
green options are limited.
Greens growers
see need for
support
Canadian sprout growers have
an opportunity to up their game
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COVID-19 is complicating the outlook for fall calf prices as producers try to meet market demand. PHOTO / LIZ TWAN
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 23
PROVINCIAL LIVESTOCK
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by TOM WALKER
KAMLOOPS – The 92nd BC
Cattlemens Association
(BCCA) annual general
meeting was radically
dierent from past years.
The event normally runs
over three days. This year the
convention ran just over two
hours and took place via
videoconference rather than
in Fort St. John.
Welcome to our way of
doing things this year,
quipped BCCA general
manager Kevin Boon.
Although Boon
acknowledged the time and
cost savings of the Zoom
meeting was a positive, he
says there is also a loss.
We are missing the
opportunity to meet and
discuss with our fellow
ranchers, he says. We have
lost the opportunity to
provide comment.
A total of 64 people
attended the June 8 meeting.
BCCA president Larry
Garrett made a similar point.
While the association has
reached out to members
through townhall meetings, a
biweekly e-newsletter and
Beef in BC magazine, more
communication from
members would be nice.
We are struggling to hear
from you, says Garrett. “If you
are not comfortable in talking
with us directly, then make
sure that you talk to your
board director.
BCCA undertakes much of
its work through its many
committees, and Garrett took
time to acknowledge their
work. He mentioned the work
of public aairs, research,
livestock industry protection,
public trust and the
environmental code of
practice groups.
We have a lot of
volunteers that step up to
help us out, he says. “It makes
a signicant point when it is
real ranchers with our hats on
doing the talking.
The Indigenous aairs
committee has spent time
talking with Members of
Parliament and senators.
Garrett says that it has
become clear that the
province moved too quickly
to adopt UNDRIP.
They are seeing some
challenges and it is clear that
they will need to rethink their
implementation, he says.
On the provincial front, the
land stewardship committee is
making headway in having
the province recognize the
value of forage on range
lands, which provides forage
not only to cattle but wildlife.
Garrett says he recalls
provincial wildlife habitat
ecologist Walt Klenner telling
the research forum at last
years convention that farms
and ranches provide 76% of
BC’s wildlife habitat.
Thats pretty amazing
when you consider that only
5% of the land in BC is
farmland.
Going forward, Boon says
ranchers are viewing COVID-
19 with a combination of
interest and anxiety.
“Right now, we have strong
retail prices and the beef
supply to service those
markets, he says, cautioning
members not to compare the
current situation to BSE.
See RISK on next page
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24 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
This is nothing like BSE, he
stressed.
There are strong markets
for beef this time, which were
missing with BSE, he explains.
When we get through the
processing diculties it will be
easier to recover.
There is lots of good news
on the processing front, Boon
notes.
“Processing has really come
back, he says. The Alberta
plants are actually processing
more now than they were this
time a year ago.
Yet the backlog of animals
waiting in feedlots to be
processed remains.
And how long will that
last?” Boon asks.
The set-aside programs that
have been developed for
Alberta feedlots will help to
clear pen space, he says, and
that has helped to support
current prices.
However, there is still
uncertainty around what
pricing will be for the fall run
when ranchers look to sell
their calves.
What prices are going to
look like in the fall will depend
on how ecient they are at
clearing that backlog.
In the midst of all this
turmoil and dierence, the
normalcies are still there.
The market is still
functioning the way the
market is supposed to, Boon
assured producers.
Garrett noted that some
producers may be left out of
current risk management
programs.
“[Ottawa] has said over and
over again to the committee
that I sit on that if there is any
support it will come through
AgriStability, says Garrett.
But he adds there is work to
do to make sure it will support
everyone, especially the mom-
and-pop cow-calf operator.
Theyre usually sole
proprietorships, and labour
isn’t considered a business
expense as it is for larger
incorporated ranch
operations.
The targeted grazing pilots
that are being coordinated by
the land stewardship
committee are seeing multiple
benets beyond the work that
the animals are doing.
The projects are designed
to reduce ne fuels in interface
areas, but the grazing is only a
small part of what we have an
opportunity to do, says Boon.
The landscape-level
planning possible when all the
stakeholders come together
has been key, he says.
We are learning that there
can’t be a single tenure focus.
We need to accommodate
everyone, he explains. We not
only have FireSmart interests,
but timber density, water
developments, impact on
wildlife and the public needs
to consider.
BCCA will approach the BC
Ministry of Agriculture for
money to track the impacts
and eects of targeted grazing
plans.
The tone of the BCCA oce
changed on May 29 with the
retirement of longtime
executive assistant Becky
Everett.
“I really want to express my
gratitude to Becky who has
been the voice of BC
Cattlemens for 28 years, says
Boon. There is no one in our
oce who has had more
direct contact with our
members than her. We know
the work she has committed
to this industry and it is greatly
appreciated.
Boon always takes time to
acknowledge the eorts of
others and tradition and
protocol are important to him.
As such, he wonders about
the new reality the pandemic
has ushered in.
“I’m not sure that we are
going back to normal or if we
will ever regain some of our
traditions, he says. “I worry
that we have lost our
handshake. Its one of the
things we value most in our
industry; an elbow bump just
doesn’t seem the same.
Cattlemen change gears
Plans for a BC-branded beef product have been
rejigged to focus on hamburger.
BC Cattlemens Association general manager Kevin
Boon provided an update on the initiative to develop a
BC-brand processing facility during the associations
annual general meeting on June 8.
We felt that the easiest way to get started with a BC
brand was to create a grind product with our local label,
he says.
Cattlemens is negotiating to use existing processor
space in the province to produce the ground beef, which
is a shift from earlier plans to build a federally inspected
plant.
With a lot of consultation and discussion it became
evident that we were headed in the wrong direction,
explains Boon. We don’t have a fed cattle industry here in
BC and it was felt that a federal plant based in a fed
program was not going to meet the needs of our cow-calf
operators.
The recent processing slow-downs and feedlot backups
in both Alberta and the US highlighted how a grind plant
could serve BC ranchers.
When operators were looking to retire cows this
spring, they had diculty nding a market for them, Boon
explains. These cull animals are coming o grass and they
don’t need to go through a feedlot; they can go straight to
a grind plant.
Boon said the plant will operate as a producer-owned
co-op and have a capacity of 7,500 animals a year. He
expects an information package will be ready for
producers by early July.
“Its a pretty exciting time, he says. “If this had been in
operation right now during COVID, the rancher could
easily have been putting as much as $200-$250 more per
head in their pockets.
Tom Walker
RISK management programs nfrom page 23
IN SHORT SUPPLY. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t impacted BC’s small-scale hog producers. With an increased
demand for local meat, the biggest challenge has been nding replacements. PHOTO / BLUE SKY RANCH
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 25
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by PETER MITHAM
LILLOOET – While the
federal government
announced $125 million in
support for the beef and pork
industry at the beginning of
May, small-lot producers
weren’t the target.
The funds largely
benetted producers
sidelined by disruptions
associated with COVID-19 at
the major beef and pork
processing plants. Shutdowns
as a result of outbreaks and
slowdowns that resulted from
social distancing measures
led to backlogs of animals. For
pork producers, thousands of
animals that should have
entered the food supply
didn’t, costing producers
millions.
But for small-lot pork
producers, who represent the
majority of the industry in BC
– the BC Hog Marketing
Commission oversees just 14
producers, versus hundreds of
small growers – life largely
continued as normal.
The experience of small-
scale pork producers is almost
completely separate from BC’s
few large operations, says
Tristan Banwell of Spray Creek
Ranch in Lillooet and a
director of the Small-Scale
Meat Producers Association.
The abattoirs used by small
operations have been much
busier than normal, but are
still in production.
Headlines regarding
closures at large plants and
fears of long-term disruptions
and meat shortages put small
producers in the limelight.
Sales shot up as many people
looked for local alternatives to
an unpredictable and possibly
unreliable supply chain.
“Most small-scale meat
producers selling direct to
customers are seeing strong
demand for their oerings,
including pork, says Banwell.
We saw quick work among
our members to pivot sales
and delivery options to
remain safe and continue to
serve customers.
One unexpected result of
the concern was a shortage in
weaner pigs. Demand among
producers for the young
animals increased as
consumer demand for
nished animals rose, but
consumers themselves were
also seeking out the animals.
Just as demand for vegetable
seed skyrocketed, prompting
some suppliers to hit pause
on orders from home
gardeners, consumers ocked
to order pullets and piglets in
a bid to take control of their
food supply.
“Supply of weaners has
been short as small-scale
producers ramp up and more
people raise a few hogs in the
backyard, and some people
are bringing in hogs from
Alberta, says Banwell.
In a timely move, the
province released an
electronic edition of its Small
Lot Pork Producer manual in
early May to assist producers.
BC Ministry of Agriculture
pork industry specialist Tom
Droppo noted that several
other management tools are
under development,
including a series of six one-
day workshops that will be
oered in spring 2021.
Whether the uptick in
demand as a reaction to the
pandemic represents a long-
term shift is another question.
Demand for local food has
grown over the past 20 years,
as consumers cocooned after
the shock of 9/11 then
embraced the idea of the 100-
mile diet BC authors Alisa
Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
made famous in 2007. The
pandemic was yet another
incentive for consumers to go
local.
But many small-scale
producers will face the same
challenges as they did before
the pandemic.
The biggest challenges in
all of this for small-scale
producers are the same
challenges to scaling
operations that we have been
experiencing for years, says
Banwell. We are short on
reliable, local options for
slaughter, butchery and
value-adding services like
smoking and sausage-
making, we have little access
to cold storage, there is
limited availability of
breeding stock and weaners
and many producers have
diculty accessing markets.
While the province
extended the regions where
on-farm slaughter can occur
in June and also awarded
nearly $560,000 to projects
supporting the meat industry
in the Peace, Cariboo and
Kootenay Boundary regions,
much more remains to be
done.
The Small-Scale Meat
Producers Association, for
example, would like to see
more meat processing
infrastructure in the Lower
Mainland to further improve
BC’s food security.
“BC producers of any scale
only produce 16% of the pork
we consume in this province,
and there is a lot of
opportunity for small-scale
producers to help meet
demand, says Banwell. When
a customer purchase local
pork raised on a local farm
and processed at a nearby
abattoir, nearly all of that
money stays in the local
community, providing
livelihoods in rural parts of
our province.
Pandemic less
challenging for
small farms
Disruptions occurred, but many
issues predated COVID-19
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ABBOTSFORD – Wet weather can happen
without much notice in BC.
But for farmers who’ve just sprayed an
insecticide or fungicide, it’s not just an
uninvited guest. It can represent a waste of
money and create confusion as to whether a
fresh application is needed.
A critical variable is the rainfastness of the
material, an issue BC Ministry of Agriculture
pesticide specialist Ken Sapsford discussed at
the Pacic Agriculture Show in January.
A centrepiece of his presentation was a
new study by Michigan State University
entomologist John Wise that provides
guidelines rooted in research.
Sapsford says its the rst of its kind.
“Until this report came out from MSU we
did not have research information to give
[growers] some guidelines, he said.
The rst step of rainfastness is ensuring products
are being applied correctly. Sapsford says this means
ensuring calibration of sprayers is correct to apply
the right amount uniformly to the target area at the
right time for optimum coverage and minimal o-
target contamination. His four steps to calibration
are to inspect (and perform maintenance on) the
sprayer, match air ow to the canopy, set an
appropriate delivery rate and conrm spray
coverage. He suggests growers who need help
calibrating their sprayers consult
[www.sprayers101.com].
Calibration needs to be checked and reset for
each spraying occasion because air ow will be
dierent for each spray. Sometimes, dierent elds
during the same spray occasion require adjustments.
Wherever that air is moving, that is where that
pesticide is going. After eight inches [out from the
sprayer] it’s up to the air, he says.
He suggests conrming coverage by using water-
sensitive paper within the canopy. Pin the paper
near the main target so it utters like a leaf. The
paper doesn’t need to be saturated to indicate
eective coverage, but it should be uniformly
coated.
Wises study provides further information to
growers.
“Products that penetrate into the plant tissue are
generally expected to enhance rainfastness,
Sapsford says.
Products in Group 1B – organophosphates such
as Cygon, Malathion and Imidan – have limited
penetration into plant tissue and have lower
rainfastness. Theyre highly susceptible to washing
o. They are, however, highly toxic to pests, so a light
rain doesn’t lead to a need for reapplication.
Group 1A – Carbamate (Sevin) – and
Group 3, pyrethroids (such as Silencer,
Matador and Mako), penetrate the plant
cuticle and are less likely to wash o.
“Once they enter that leaf area, they are
more rainfast, Sapsford says.
Systemics including Group 5 (Delegate,
Success, Entrust), Group 6 (Agri-mek), Group
28 (Altacor and Exirel) and groups 15 and 18
(insect growth regulators such as Rimon,
Conrm and Intrepid) all penetrate the plant
cuticle and have moderate to high
rainfastness.
Group 4, neonicotinoids, are also systemic
and can only be applied after petal fall when
bees are not present. The sole product
available in Canada is Assail. It needs about
24 hours to be rainfast.
“If you are applying it, you must do some
cutting back. It does not say how much, he
says of Group 4. “Its really getting confusing with the
neonics.
Regardless of rainfastness, producers should
consider reapplying any product if there’s been
more than 25 mm of rain following an application.
While most insecticides dry within two to six hours, if
they are slow to penetrate the plant tissue, rain will
prevent their ecacy.
However, if the rainfall comes after 24 hours, all
the systemics will be rainfast.
Fungicides perform similarly in that 25 mm of rain
will remove about half the spray if they haven’t had
sucient time to penetrate.
In wet, rainy periods, Sapsford says to apply sprays
at the highest label rate. However, its important that
the plant is actively growing and that the pores of
the leaf are open, allowing the spray to be taken up.
Rainy day thoughts for pesticide applications
Understanding rainfastness will help reduce costs and improve efficacy
FILE PHOTO
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 27
Scott Orr, a technician with the research team at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Corvallis, Oregon uses a drone to scout for signs of water
stress and poor nutrition in a commercial blueberry eld. PHOTO / DAVE BRYLA
by PETER MITHAM
ABBOTSFORD – The
potential of drones as
management tools in several
sectors of agriculture is now
widely recognized, even as
regulations lag new
applications. Trials of drones
as pesticide applicators
began in Agassiz last year,
and now their use as
monitors of plant health is
coming into focus as a way to
provide a comprehensive
look at what’s going on in
elds beyond what in-row
monitoring can do.
“You don’t have to go up
and down the rows, says
Dave Bryla, a research
horticulturist with the USDA
Agricultural Research Service
based in Corvallis, Oregon.
Were starting to nd that we
can use this perhaps for
scheduling irrigations,
perhaps for evaluating
diseases in the elds and
maybe even nutrient
management.
Bryla discussed his work
with drones at the Pacic
Agriculture Show in
Abbotsford at the beginning
of February, highlighting their
potential for berry growers.
Plant water requirements
can be modelled through the
use of soil sensors and
tracking weather conditions,
with various tools provided
through services such as
Farmwest. These are based on
evapotranspiration rates and
crop coecients that
estimate crop water use in
relation to a reference crop,
usually grass or alfalfa.
The problem is, this is an
ideal situation, and no eld is
ideal, explains Bryla. What
were trying to do is use a
drone to get site-specic
estimates of how much water
a eld requires.
The idea isn’t new. The
approach involves taking
images of elds, which in the
past were obtained from
satellites. However, using a
drone from Oregon-based
Aerial Technology
International LLC equipped
with spectral imaging
cameras, researchers are able
to hone in on what’s
happening within the crop
canopy.
“You get dierent values
depending on how healthy or
how stressed a particular
plant is, he explains. A
stressed plant will reect
more light from the visible
range. On the other hand, a
healthy plant is going to
reect more light in the
infrared range.
The linchpin of the
approach is the canopy,
because it’s the leaves that
are doing the work of
harvesting light, breathing
and keeping the plant cool.
By determining canopy
cover, for instance, water
uptake can be determined
under given conditions using
the crop coecient. The goal
is to be able to send drones
into berry elds and have
them analyze the canopy and
relay the data so that
irrigation volumes can be
adjusted accordingly.
We can basically take this
information and translate that
into the actual water
requirements, he says.
“Growers can get a quick
estimate of how much
irrigation they should be
putting on their specic eld.
This information can be
tailored to specic varieties,
because the vigour of
dierent varieties mean they
take up water at dierent
rates. The more vigorous a
variety is, the thirstier it tends
to be.
This is the case with
Wakeeld, a raspberry cultivar
that puts out a larger canopy
than Meeker. It will take up
water at a faster rate,
meaning it may require more
frequent watering than
Meeker and could suer if it
received the same amount.
“If we just used the
estimates o the Internet, or
measuring soil moisture, it’s
not going to really tell us that.
But with a drone, we might be
able to pick up that sort of
dierence, says Bryla.
But the kind of light leaves
absorb doesn’t just reect the
health of the plant. It also
indicates the temperature in
the canopy.
The warmer an object is,
the more infrared radiation it
gives o, says Bryla. When a
plant is happy, it’s transpiring
a lot; as it transpires, just like
when were sweating, that
water evaporates. It cools the
canopy down. When it’s
stressed, it doesn’t transpire
as much water and the leaf
temperature goes up. You can
detect that dierence with an
infrared camera.
Thermal imaging has
revealed that the temperature
of a canopy for blueberries
that weren’t irrigated was 89°
F but with full irrigation it was
86° F.
The canopy cover then is
going to be correlated to the
water status of the plants, or
the water potential. As the
temperature is warmer, the
water status of the plant is
more negative, or the water
potential is lower or more
water-stressed, he says. “By
developing these
relationships, we can map out
which plants are looking
good, have plenty of water,
and which plants are water-
stressed.
Similarly, drones can
collect images that reveal
issues associated with
changes in terrain, such as
low points where water tends
to collect and put crops at
risk of root rot. Alternatively, it
may identify malnourished
parts of a block using an
index based on the kind of
light reected.
This could eventually be a
useful tool where not only
could we use it to look at
water requirements, but we
might be able to use it to
assess nutrient issues and
make recommendations on
how much nitrogen or other
nutrients that we could apply
to those plants, says Bryla.
There’s a lot of potential
here, but a lot of work that
has to be done.
Drones hone in on crop water requirements
Technology
picks up on
subtle cues in
the canopy
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 29
BC farms adapt
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Predator protection and size are
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GREENWOOD – Rotational
grazing is growing in
popularity among livestock
producers as a way to boost
and sustain pastures while
reducing the need to buy
feed. It yields both economic
and environmental benefits.
The system works well
with larger stock like cattle
and sheep, but poultry is
another matter. While the
idea of pasture-raised poultry
has cachet among city-
dwellers, limiting the birds to
a defined patch of ground
and keeping them safe poses
challenges.
While fencing may not be
a concern, protecting the
birds from raptors and
coyotes is another matter. To
get around the challenge,
many small-lot producers use
a chicken tractor modelled
on the design of Virgina
poultry farmer Joel Salatin.
The structure is a moveable
10x10-foot enclosure two
feet high.
“You get the benefits of a
confinement operation
without any of the negatives,
says Eric Moes of Little Fork
Ranch in Greenwood. The
actual structure is really to
keep the birds safe.
To accommodate the three
flocks of 350 broilers it
produces each year, Little
Fork has developed a tractor
that’s effectively a 20x40-foot
hoophouse on skids.
Greenhouse plastic covers
the aluminum and steel
frame; the plastic sides can
be rolled up to provide
ventilation.
“Instead of moving 10
small pens a day, we took
another play out of the
playbook and have one large
chicken tractor, Moes says.
The system works well,
protecting the birds from
raptors as well as most four-
footed predators. Any large
animals are kept out by the
fencing that surrounds the
pasture area, although Moes
notes that the local black
bears are generally friendly.
We’ve got a lot of black
bears here but they respect
the fences that we’ve got
around our fields, he says.
Grizzly proof
Grizzlies are a different
proposition, and pose a
significant challenge to
growers in the Kootenays.
Gillian Sanders of Grizzly
Bear Coexistence Solutions in
Meadow Creek works with
producers across the
province to foster better
relationships with bears. She
typically encourages
producers them to make sure
their defences send a clear
message to bears of what’s
theirs and what’s not.
An electric fence is what’s
most commonly used to
protect livestock and crops.
Sanders says it needs to be
have proper grounding for
the soil type and a jolt strong
enough to send a clear
message to a bear (7,000
volts will do). It also needs to
deliver the jolt to the right
part of the animal – the
snout, rather the haunch, for
example.
But fences are stationary
while chicken tractors are
designed to move.
Recognizing the
desirability of a viable
solution for free range
poultry producers in bear
country, the BC Association
of Farmers’ Markets chose to
support a grizzly-proof
tractor as this years recipient
of the Mary Forstbauer
award, a $500 annual grant
designed to support
innovation and adaption
among market vendors.
The project proposed a
steel structure held in place
by anchors but capable of
being lifted and relocated.
Electric mats and fencing
designed to ward off
predators would provide
additional protection.
“If they can’t lift it or break
into it and they are zapped in
the process this will make it a
viable option, the grant
application stated.
The issues electrification
poses were part of the
discussion when Moes
showed off his own tractor
during a field day the
Kootenay Boundary Farm
Advisors organized at his
farm last September.
“It would be a bad day if a
bear got in, so one of the
ideas that came out of that
field day was to electrify it,
he says. The problem is
you’ve got this steel fencing
lying on the wet ground, and
electric fencing doesn’t
operate that way.
One option is to insulate
the skids with rubber feet,
which would avoid
grounding the structure. This
could also make it easier to
move because the chickens
would stay away from the
walls.
Moes has yet to implement
the ideas, but hes keeping
them in mind as his farm
continues to evolve.
A bare patch of ground
is ready to grow after
being pecked and
fertilized by a the
chickens at
Little Fork Ranch.
Breeders pin a
value on traits
Abbotsford enhancement grants
to boost raspberry production
Marcus Janzen, left, chair of the Abbotsford Community Foundation's agricultural enhancement grants committee,
presented a cheque for $38,500 to enable research that will put dollar values on raspberry traits to James Bergen,
chair of the Raspberry Industry Development Council, and berry researcher Michael Dossett. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
30 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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by RONDA PAYNE
ABBOTSFORD – Researchers
are giving raspberry growers
a way to select new varieties
based on dollars and cents. A
newly funded project will
assign nancial values to
specic berry traits such as
harvest timing, rot resistance
and pruning requirements
which may lead to increased
returns to growers.
Michael Dossett, berry
researcher with Agriculture
and Agri-Food Canada, says
the study is the industrys
best shot at preventing the
loss of acreage and declining
yields. He notes that while BC
still produces 78% of Canadas
raspberries (nearly 15 million
pounds in 2019), primarily in
Abbotsford, yield per acre has
dropped 30% over the last 30
years.
There’s a whole long list of
things you want in any
variety, but you can’t have all
of them so you need some
way to prioritize, Dossett says.
This will allow us to come up
with an estimated economic
value for everything. Right
now, we have an idea of
what’s important [from
grower input]. The question
really is how do you weigh all
these dierent traits.
The “Economic Tools in
Innovation in Raspberry
Breeding project received
$38,500 through the
Abbotsford Community
Foundations agricultural
enhancement grant program.
The funds were presented to
the Lower Mainland
Horticulture Improvement
Association, which
administers funding for berry
development on behalf of the
Raspberry Industry
Development Council, on May
29. The funds, combined with
funding under the Canadian
Agricultural Partnership, will
support the new project.
We’ll be leveraging what
were already doing as part of
the breeding program, says
Dossett. “I’d been looking for
alternative pieces of funding.
ACF’s funds will pay for an
agricultural economist to
determine values for each
trait and develop formulas
that put the results together
to allow for better berry
variety selection.
We’ll be able to take any
given selection and estimate
the economic value and then
rank them that way, says
Dossett. We’ll be guring out
what the incremental or
marginal values are for
specic traits in raspberries so
that we can create what’s
called a selection index. We
can estimate the value of
what any particular variety
would be.
The values will help
determine which varieties to
continue with and which to
drop when Dossett discusses
selections with growers. While
yield is often seen as the
growers Holy Grail, varieties
that reduce labour can be just
as benecial nancially.
“It will give us some hard
numbers, he says. What this
is all about is guring out how
can we develop a raspberry
that is going to be more
protable for the grower.
Eleos Robotics CEO Yahoel Van Essen watches as his brother Sam (left) and Iain Kay (right) ne tune a prototype of
the company's RoboWeeder. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 31
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by RONDA PAYNE
SURREY – Imagine having a
weed-free eld that didn’t
require back-breaking
manual weeding or
herbicides. It could be reality
thanks to some made-in-BC
technology.
Surrey-based Eleos
Robotics Inc. is set to begin
commercial production of a
fully autonomous robotic
weeder later this year after
four years of development.
Eleos founder and CEO
Yahoel Van Essen wants to
eliminate herbicides while
also delivering an eective
time and money-saving
option.
“If you’re not spraying,
you’re hand-weeding, he
says. “Growers are spending
around $800 an acre to spray
their elds. If they are hand-
weeding, it’s much more. We
want to provide a technology
that can be used on an
organic farm and make it
economically advantageous.
The robotic weeder is more
ecient at its task and more
eective in removing weeds
than either sprays or manual
picking. The robot uses
microwaves to destroy weeds
and there is little or no harm
done to adjacent perennial
crops like blueberry bushes
or grapevines. (It hasn’t yet
been tested on annual crops.)
“It becomes a no-brainer
for the farmer, says Van
Essen. Were going through
an environmental and labour
crisis globally. Its all
connected.
Eleos raised $655,000 last
year to develop a commercial
prototype of the robot, now
in version 4.0. It recently
secured a $50,000 grant
through the Abbotsford
Community Foundations
agricultural enhancement
grants to begin commercial
production.
Jason Smith of Fraser Berry
Farms in Abbotsford and an
investor in the project can’t
wait to get it into his
blueberry eld later this
season.
“[Autonomous weed
control] is taking something
o my plate, Smith says.
“Right now, I’m trying to nd
a window of weather where
I’m trying to spray weeds. …
Its one less thing I have to
worry about.
The robot navigates a eld
using multi-spectral cameras.
When it detects weeds, it
microwaves them, causing
them to wilt and start
decomposing immediately.
The robot patrols both day
and night with a range of up
to 30 acres. It returns to
charge if the battery runs low
so farmers don’t have to go
looking for it. Since it is low to
the ground and has a multi-
hinged arm, it has minimal
contact with crops,
preventing damage to fruit.
Smiths only concern at this
stage is whether the robot
will be able to keep up with
the weeds. While it’s
autonomous, he
acknowledges it will need to
be checked occasionally to
ensure proper functionality.
In addition to Smith’s trial,
Mission Hill Family Estate
winery in Kelowna will have a
robot this summer.
Prototype is a Roomba for weed control
A new robotic weeder will provide autonomous, eco-friendly weed control for farmers
There are a handful of
startups with weeding robots,
Van Essen says. “I’d say our
dierentiator is we have the
more eective way of
removing weeds and we have
the smallest. We have the
most intelligent and, nally,
we are one of the only robots
that doesn’t use chemicals.
While COVID-19 and a
break-in have delayed
production, demand is strong.
Van Essen says a waitlist has
41 growers on it. While there
are a few kinks to be worked
out, it’s all systems go for
production.
Were just guring out the
maintenance issues and
testing out systems, he says.
Were building something
that has never been built
before.
Although Willmar® pull-type spreaders can’t control the
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For Small to Large Farm Operations
More isn’t always better. A study has found that a 35% increase in rainfall over the study period led to a 21% to
33% reduction in water inltration rates in soil and only a small increase in water retention. PHOTO / FILE
32 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Soil health is, quite literally,
the foundation of crop
production and new research
is digging into the
complexities of soil structure.
When it is dry, the tiny
spaces in soil fill with air but,
lower down, the spaces are
filled with rainwater.
In between is what is
known as the capillary fringe,
a dynamic and less
understood layer in the soil
where chemical, bacterial and
microbial activity goes on,
depending on the levels of
air and water at any given
time.
The capillary fringe is
known for the capillary action
that constantly takes place as
subterranean water rises
above its level through its
unique ability to flow
upwards in narrow spaces in
opposition to gravity.
Researchers at Virginia
Tech have been studying the
capillary fringe in lab-based
experiments to understand
its influence on soil
processes. The goal was to
evaluate the effects of the
capillary fringe moisture
changes on biogeochemical
processes and to assess if
they were more similar to
saturated or unsaturated
zones.
“Important processes like
contaminant breakdown and
carbon storage depend on
the amount of water and
oxygen available, says
graduate student Jaclyn Fiola.
“Understanding the
conditions in the capillary
fringe will help us predict
where certain soil
processes will occur.
They packed five-
gallon buckets with
two kinds of soil,
one sandy and one
loamy. Holes near
the bottom let in
water, which was maintained
at a constant height.
Parameters measured over
118 days included soil
moisture, inorganic nitrogen,
decomposition, and
reduction changes. To study
the oxygen content, they
painted PVC pipes with rust-
embedded paint and
inserted them into the soil.
They found that, when
there was not enough
oxygen, microbes would
breathe rust and that action
turned the rust into a
different form of iron that
washed away. But what
surprised them was that the
water in both soil types rose
the entire height of the
buckets indicating the
capillary fringe extended at
least 9 inches (almost 23 cm).
As well, the PVC pipes had
lost their rust well above the
water tables in the buckets.
This means the soil in the
capillary fringe at least two
inches (5 cm) above the
water table is behaving like
soil in the water table even
though it's not fully
saturated, says Fiola.
They found that
decomposition was lowest in,
and just above, the saturated
water table and greatest
where moisture and oxygen
were balanced. Reducing
conditions existed around 10
cm above the water table in
the sandy soil and around 5
cm in the loamy soil,
indicating that these regions
share characteristics with the
saturated zone.
The research team is
planning to study the
capillary fringe in more
realistic field conditions.
The capillary fringe is far
too complicated to define
based on one single
measurement, says Fiola.
The study was published in
Soil Science Society of America
Journal.
In another independent
study, scientists from Rutgers
University in New Brunswick,
New Jersey, led a 25-year
experiment in Kansas
involving irrigation of prairie
soil with sprinklers. The focus
was that climate change may
reduce the ability of soils to
absorb water. This could have
serious implications for
groundwater, food
production, food security,
stormwater runoff,
biodiversity and ecosystem
functions.
The scientists found that a
35% increase in rainfall over
the study period led,
surprisingly, to a 21% to 33%
reduction in water infiltration
rates in soil and only a small
increase in water retention.
The report, which was
published in Science
Advances, stated that the
biggest changes were linked
to shifts in relatively large
pores, or spaces, in the soil.
“Large pores capture water
that plants and
microorganisms can use, and
that contributes to enhanced
biological activity and
nutrient cycling in soil and
decreases soil losses through
erosion, the report stated.
With increased rainfall, plant
communities had thicker
roots that could clog larger
pores and there were less
intense cycles of soil
expansion when water was
added or contraction when
water was removed.
The next step in the
research is to investigate the
mechanisms that drive the
changes in order to extend
those findings to other
regions of the world and
incorporate them into
predictions of how
ecosystems will respond to
climate change.
“Since rainfall patterns and
other environmental
conditions are shifting
globally as a result of climate
change, our results suggest
that how water interacts with
soil could change appreciably
in many parts of the world,
and do so fairly rapidly, said
co-author Daniel Giménez,
soil scientist and professor in
Rutgers Department of
Environmental Sciences. We
propose that the direction,
magnitude and rate of the
changes should be measured
and incorporated into
predictions of ecosystem
responses to climate change.
Exploring the complexities of soil structure
Two recent studies get the real dirt on the movement of water through soil
Research
by MARGARET EVANS
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 33
Farm and Rural
Residential
Properties
in the Peace
Country are
our specialty
Anne H. Clayton
MBA, AACI P App, RI
Appraiser
Judi Leeming
BHE, AIC Candidate
250.782.1088
info@aspengrovepropertyservices.ca
million tourists a year?
Globally, we have
experienced food supply-
chain issues. Just-in-time
delivery means limited
capacity for food
storage. Tons of
potatoes grown for
French fries became
useless across the
globe. Single-serving
milk cartons for school
lunch programs are a
poor substitute for home-
based consumers.
In the meat sector,
producer prices are falling.
High-end cuts of beef are no
longer in demand. Across the
globe, packing plant
consolidation has meant
more ecient production
and more aordable food for
consumers. But when one
major processor goes oine,
the risks to the food supply
become crystal clear.
The IFAJ calls have also
revealed how the agricultural
fortunes of exporting nations
increasingly hinge on China.
Argentina exports 70% of its
beef and 22% of its pork to
China.
Parallel to shrinking rural
populations is the loss of
traditional, trusted rural
media worldwide. In Australia,
News Corp Australia recently
announced it will close 36
publications and move 76
regional and local papers
online. In April, Postmedia
announced 80 layos and is
closing 15 community papers
in Manitoba and Ontario.
What will be the lasting
impact, particularly on the
coverage of agricultural
issues?
Thankfully, border closures
didn’t stop agricultural
shipments. However, the
pandemic has shone a
spotlight on food security.
I’ve always been proud to be
Canadian, knowing we
produced so much we could
export to help feed others
worldwide. I’ve never worried
about having enough to eat,
but my sense of personal
relief was checked when a
fellow writer in Liberia shared
that his country imports most
of its food. He was very
worried about exporting
countries cutting o food
supplies.
I also felt remorse. The
International Fund for
Agricultural Development of
the United Nations states on
its website, The COVID-19
crisis could put 265 million
people at risk of acute
hunger by the end of 2020.
The divide between countries
with food and those without
is abundantly clearly when
you’re on a call with a farm
writer in Africa.
Can we continue to dump
milk and let food spoil
because there is neither the
will nor the dollars to move
product from place to place
when others need it? To
protect their own, some food-
producing and exporting
countries like Russia,
Kazakhstan, India and
Vietnam have imposed
export bans or quotas, but
how is that making the world
better?
Most of these issues aren’t
new, but they are important.
American historian Niall
Ferguson calls the pandemic
the biggest economic shock
since the Great Depression.
He says we need to start
thinking about living in the
world with COVID-19, not the
world after. I think hes right,
and when it comes to
agriculture, global thinking is
required. COVID-19 is giving
us an opportunity to reshape
our world view and possibly
change our path. May there
be a will to make it so.
Myrna Stark Leader is a
regular contributor to Country
Life in BC and a past president
of the Canadian Farm Writers
Federation. She lives in
Kelowna.
Isolation brings
the world
closer
The issues that unite us are
greater than what divides us
Never in my lifetime has
anything focussed a lens on
agriculture – provincially,
nationally and internationally
– like COVID-19.
Over the past months, I’ve
been part of a number of
Zoom meetings with
agriculture writers and
communicators worldwide,
members of the International
Federation of Agricultural
Journalists. In a world of
increasingly globalized food
systems, IFAJers have always
understood the value of
communication, but it took a
crisis to gather us in a way
that hasn’t happened before.
With 70 members on these
calls representing more than
20 countries, our discussions
have touched on the issues
we share in common as we
navigate these uncharted
times.
Food production’s reliance
on foreign labour is global.
Australia counts on
backpackers; Israel relies on
workers from Thailand;
pickers in the UK are from
Eastern Europe. Italys
workers are from Romania.
Spain employs Moroccan
workers. The issues around
foreign worker movement
and safety, wages and living
conditions and the debate
over employing foreigners
when domestic workers are
unemployed are very much
the same. At a global level,
this issue highlights the real
tension between the public’s
demand for cheap food and
the precarious situation
countries face if foreign
workers aren’t available.
Like here, in the outback of
Australia and in Scotland,
agritourism is a way to
diversify and grow farm
income. However, grim
predictions for tourism
numbers and cancellations of
farm weddings, events and
tours brings uncertainly.
Tourism also impacts the
restaurant industry, shrinking
the market for local food
products. Did you know that
60% of the butter produced
in the United States goes to
restaurants and that Turkey
grows food to serve seven
Viewpoint
by MYRNA STARK LEADER
Cooper, 5, from Revelstoke, enjoyed a Father’s Day outing visiting with some of the Holstein calves at
D Dutchman Dairy in Sicamous. Visitors can enjoy their ice cream, milk or cheese while checking out
the animals that produce the ingredients.
PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
Buds
34 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
GIVE YOURSELF THE
AVE NUE
Farmers are the lifeblood of our civilization. Uncountable hours of hard work go into
keeping the people fed. Avenue Machinery wants to offer a hearty thank you to all the
farmers. We don’t say it enough.
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COURTESYOURTESY
The ideal seedbed consists of a powdery yet
substantive tilth. Heres one of my burning life
questions: How? More specically: Which piece of
equipment should next be attached to the tractor in
the pursuit of such. On our farm, I am sorry to say,
the question
comes up a
lot and the
answer is
usually very
unclear.
An obvious
barrier is our
fertility program, which relies completely on
building organic matter during a ve-year rotation
of cover crops between the cash crop. That’s a lot of
forage and mulch to be broken down prior to
seeding.
To that end, we have many cultivation
implements and each of them may be adjusted for
depth, speed, spacing, drag, tilt and more,
depending on conditions which seem to be
innitely variable. So many decisions. Furthermore,
unfortunately, and critically, all this farming has
failed to stamp out our perfectionist streak. We are
pretty much doomed.
I note the ease with which other farms in my
general vicinity seem to achieve seedbed
perfection. They possibly do the same thing every
year, in the same order, equipped with perfectly
adjusted implements and the breezy
condence that loose, owy loam will be the
result of their application. Many of
them kill their forage rst with
a chemical.
Now, as an organic farmer, I
realize it is not cool to admire a
tillage practice that utilizes a
forage-killing chemical, so I don’t. Todays world
demanding inclusivity, however, I can admit the
appeal and contribution made by agricultural
chemicals in the creation of perfect seedbeds.
And while were on the topic, consider that a
weed-lled acre of carrots, which to me represents
an entire growing season of near-constant
apoplexy, may be rendered weed free in a matter of
hours just days after planting. One pass with the
sprayer and that eld will shortly present nicely
ordered rows of nothing but carrots proceeding
unhindered on the path to large and consistently
cylindrical carroty perfection. It is a marvel and I get
it. I really do.
Weeds trump carrots
Our carrot seeds are germinating along with, but
probably slightly behind, all the weeds imaginable.
Also, there are hard dirt chunks in the seed bed.
They are there because we had to
incorporate a verdant fall rye cover crop
growing in the cool,
moist soil before
cultivating for
carrots. We
recently
planted potatoes into a eld that in places looked
like a hay bale had been exploded. We just couldn’t
get the cover crop buried and broken down enough
before planting. Perfection is not being achieved
this year.
On our farm, we have two types of farmer,
representing subsets of perfectionism: the bung-
em-in crowd (ironically devoted to perfecting
imperfection), and the lets-do-this-right crowd
(steadfast in the endless pursuit). Recount: there are
three types of farmers. There is also the type that
moves in both worlds, willing and able to perform
the functions of each, yet lacking the consistency of
either. I am the third farmer, and this year my
devotion is to job completion satisfaction.
COVID-19 has meant that most of my farming is
done in the company of a seven-year-old sidekick,
whose name is Productivity Impediment. Alone time
on the farm is a precious occurrence and seeding
carrots the solo job that had to be completed.
Today it rained and I kept planting. Mud balled
up the Stanhay seeder, which consequently
caused about a quarter of the carrot seeds to be
deposited on top on the soil. We, all three
types, had to cover them with hand
hoes.
Not a perfect start to the
carrot crop. You know
what? I think it will be
okay.
Anna Helmer is
intrigued with this
notion of blaming a
global health
pandemic for this
year’s crop of farming
ops and is starting to keep a list at
her farm in Pemberton.
Weeds make perfection an impossible dream
Seedbeds are fields of dreams — build them and weeds will come
Farm Story
by ANNA HELMER
cool,
Matthew Vasilev and Katie Selbee are ready to open a tasting room at Twin Island Cider on Pender Island
as COVID-19 sanctions start to lift. PHOTO / SUBMITTED
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 35
by BARBARA JOHNSTONE
GRIMMER
PENDER ISLAND – Katie
Selbee and Matthew Vasilev of
Twin Island Cider on Pender
Island have a business as
unique and authentic as the
cider they produce, taking
apples from century-old
orchards on the Gulf Islands
and fermenting them
traditionally with naturally
occurring yeasts in their farm-
based cidery. They started just
four years ago after three
years of planning and
preparation.
“It is a shared dream, and a
more viable option than
starting a veggie farm, says
Vasilev.
Selbee is a graduate of the
UBC Farm Practicum in
Sustainable Agriculture. She
followed it with a year
growing mixed vegetables on
an urban farm with other
program graduates, running
the farms CSA (community-
supported agriculture)
program. She also completed
an orchard internship at UBC
Farm.
It was at UBC Farm where
the two met. Vasilev had
experience making cider and
had also worked in organic
farming and food distribution
in both Montreal and
Vancouver.
We were both drawn to
the close-knit community and
the social and environmental
justice aspects of small
organic farming, says Selbee.
They toured cideries in BC,
Washington and the UK. They
talked to cider makers. They
also started making cider from
the Vasilev family’s orchard on
Pender Island. They preferred
the traditional style of natural
fermentation.
The traditional, or hobby
style, is the best cider in the
world, says Vasilev.
They realized that the way
they wanted to make cider,
however, was labour intensive
and risky.
“It is hard to scale up, but it
is authentic, explains Vasilev,
“You have to do it yourself.
Use simple tools and simple
methods.
The pair soon partnered
with cider-lovers Sandra
MacPherson and Noel Hall
who had recently purchased
farmland with a neglected old
homestead and orchard on
Pender Island.
Within three months, we
were rolling, says Vasilev. We
BC FRUIT GROWERS’ ASSOCIATION
1-800-619-9022 (ext 1)
email: replant@bcfga.com
www.bcfga.com
ANNOUNCEMENT:
Application forms and the updated requirements of the 2021 Tree Fruit
Replant Program are now available on the BCFGA website, www.bcfga.com.
Project applications (along with the required documents) will be received
by November 30, 2020. Please avoid the last minute rush and get your
application in early.
An horticultural advisor is required to sign individual applications for the 2021
Tree Fruit Replant Program. The following information will be provided to assist
growers in completing applications.
a. A list of qualied advisors.
b. Program operational policies.
c. A series of reports on replanting and variety performance
and selection are available and should be referenced when
preparing a Tree Fruit Replant Program Application.
The Tree Fruit Replant Program provides funding for quality projects.
Project approval is subject to funding availability and is allocated by the date of
receipt of applications. Completed projects are veried by inspection and must
attain minimum program standards.
The Tree Fruit Replant Program is a 7 year program,
funded by the Province of BC.
2021 Tree Fruit Replant Program
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were starting from the ground
up, every skill, every aspect.
They learned from the
orchard and cider community,
making valuable contacts, and
learning the necessary skills.
They collected scion wood of
cider apple varieties from
various sources.
Year zero was all about
grafting and planting 1,300
cider-variety trees, including
Yarlington Mill, Dabinett and
Chisel Jersey for a two-acre
orchard, and rehabilitating
heritage orchards. The rst
cider batches were blends of
Gulf Island and Okanagan
apples with a goal of 7,000
litres.
They soon honed their skills
to harvest and process 32,000
pounds of fruit from 30
orchards. Last year, 60,000
pounds of fruit from 48
properties on North and
South Pender, Mayne and
Saturna islands were
harvested. Vasilev estimates
the fruit included 70 to 100
varieties of apples.
Seventeen orchards were
pruned last year. This valuable
service alone has given Selbee
and Vasilev access to a range
of orchards for each harvest.
The under-utilized old
orchards have also received a
fresh purpose.
The older trees that have
been neglected produce
more phenolics, which is
important in cider quality,
says Vasilev. They are dry
farmed, which is a great
legacy.
Total control
Every aspect of production,
marketing and sales is kept in-
house. They work to keep it
enjoyable, small and creative.
We do all the
milling/pressing ourselves at
the cidery with the help of
family and a couple of part-
time helpers, says Selbee. We
use a traditional rack and
cloth press. Its very labour
and time-intensive but worth
the amount of control it gives
us over the nal product.
There is no slow time; we
work year-round and do it all,
says Vasilev.
This attention to detail and
hands-on approach to the
work has made it a challenge
to stay on top of the two-acre
orchard they originally
planted. The leases of the old
orchards have distracted
them, and the new trees
struggled with a canker and a
less-than-perfect site. This
year, the plan is to expand
with more two-year old trees
in a sunnier spot.
But it is perhaps their non-
farming skills that give them
Cidermakers give
fresh purpose to
island orchards
Close to 100 varieties of apples
gathered for farmstead cider
See TRADITIONAL on next page
o
TRADITIONAL nfrom page 35
36 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
When we left o last time,
Susan Henderson was telling
Lois all about Newt Pullmans
generous oer to have her and
the kids stay with him while
Kenneth and Deborah self-
isolate at home when they
arrived back from their
vacation. Over at the coee
club table, Jimmy Vincent was
all ears. Rural Redemption, part
124, continues ...
Frank was dumbstruck by
the news that Susan
Henderson was planning to
shack up with Newt Pullman.
Jimmy Vincent took a long sip
of coee while it sunk in.
Franks jaw was hanging like
the tailgate on a 29-year-old
pickup.
That can’t be so, said
Frank. Whered you hear
that?”
“Right here. Right from the
lady herself. If youda been
here ve minutes ago, you
coulda heard it for yourself.
Right, Lois?”
“No, Jimmy. Thats not what
she said, and I’ll thank you to
leave me out of it.
Jimmy turned back to
Frank.
“Maybe didn’t say it in so
many words, but that was the
upshot of what she was
saying.
“I’ll believe it when I hear it
with my own ears, said Frank
as he strode out the door.
Well, Lois, don’t you wish
you were going to be a y on
the wall for that
conversation?”
“You know what I wish,
Jimmy? I wish you were more
like a sh.
A sh? I don’t follow.
“Surest way for a sh to
stay out of trouble is keep its
mouth shut, said Lois. “Do us
all a favour and start thinking
like a sh.
vvv
Frank climbed
into his old Ford
wrecker and headed
o in hot pursuit of
Susan Henderson.
She was still getting
out of her car when he turned
up the driveway.
“Good morning again, said
Susan.
“I’d like to have a word with
you, said Frank.
“Certainly, said Susan,
sensing his agitation. “Is there
something wrong?”
“I’ll get right to the point.
Folks are saying youre
planning on moving in with
Newt. Is that so?”
What FOLKS did you hear
this from?”
At the store.
“Do you mean from Lois?”
“Yeah, her and Jimmy
Vincent. Jimmy says you told
Lois and Lois says you didn’t
tell her that, so I don’t know
who said what.
Thats the trouble with
gossip, isn’t it?” said Susan.
Thats why I’m here. I just
want you to level with me. I
think you owe me that much.
Well, I think perhaps you
are trying to collect a debt
that isn’t due.
“I’m just going to lay my
cards on the table.
“Oh, please do, said Susan.
A man doesn’t like to have
his aections tried with and
folks ought to be honest with
one another when it comes to
aairs of the heart. That’s all
I’m asking. You can’t say you
haven’t been leading me on,
asking me to join you for
dinner when you got stood
up and the like.
“Oh yes, the ambush at the
seaside restaurant. Were you
being honest then?”
Frank gulped
uncomfortably.
“I only did that because
Pullman swooped in and laid
a-hold of you before I even
got a chance. The point is, I
like you just as much as he
does, probably more, and you
need a chance to weigh your
options before you go settin
up shop at his place.
“Frank, I don’t know where
to begin, and given the fact
you have a wife, I’m not even
going to try. Let’s just say that
all of the conclusions you’ve
jumped to are mistaken and
leave it at that, alright?”
“So, if I get your drift, and
none of what I’m thinking is
right… theres no reason you
and me can’t go on seeing
each other is there?”
“I can think of two reasons,
said Susan. “First of all, you
can’t go on doing something
you weren’t doing in the rst
place and second, you have a
WIFE, Frank.
“So does Pullman. His wife
is as alive and kicking as
mine.
“Newt has an ex-wife,
Frank. Not quite the same
thing, is it? Look, Deborah and
Kenneth are away, and they
will be in isolation for two
weeks when they get home.
Newt has very kindly oered
to let the children and I stay
with him until we can go back
home.
“I’ve got a house, too. You’d
all be welcome to stay with
me.
Thats very thoughtful of
you but I’ll have to decline.
“I’m only oering so you
don’t end up trapped into
going to Newt’s place.
Again, very thoughtful, but
not necessary.
“I guess this is goodbye
then, said Frank.
“Yes, I think it is, said Susan.
Five minutes later, Frank
walked back into the store.
“Cleared the air, did ya’?”
said Jimmy.
“Oh ya. I set her straight,
that’s for sure, said Frank.
Whatd you say? Howd
she take it?” asked Jimmy.
“Remember the sh, Jimmy.
Be the sh!” called Lois.
vvv
As soon as Frank was gone,
Susan drove next door to
Newt’s house.
“Come to take the grand
tour before you make up your
mind?” asked Newt.
Apparently my mind’s
already made up.
“Hows that?” asked Newt.
“I just had a kind of strange
visit from Frank. According to
him, theres a rumor ying
about us living together.
And did Frank say where
he came by it?”
At the store. I mentioned
to Lois that you had oered
us a place to stay.
“Doesn’t sound like Lois.
Shes death on gossip.
“Not Lois. I guess old Mr.
Vincent overheard.
Ah. Well. That cat’s out of
the bag and long gone then. I
hate to think of where it will
wander o to.
That said, maybe we
should cut it o at the pass. If
the oer still stands, the kids
and I would like to accept,
said Susan.
“Of course it still stands. But
don’t you at least want a look
around before you take the
plunge?”
Newt gave Susan the grand
tour.
What a wonderful house,
Newt. I had no idea it was
anything like this.
“Chris tells me it reminds
him of his grandfather’s house
in the city.
Trust me, said Susan
shaking her head. This is
nowhere near as heartless
and dreary as the Kingston
pen.
“It will be all the more
warm and cheery for all of
you being here, said Newt.
“Bring the kids over after
supper and they can pick
rooms so you’ll be all ready to
move over when Deborah
and Ken get home.
Susan took Newt’s hand
and leaned her head on his
shoulder.
“So, do you want to set the
rumour mill straight then?”
she asked.
“Nah, let’s let it go for a few
days just for the hell of it.
Newt winced as Susan dug
her elbow into his ribs.
... to be continued
Frank makes Susan’s deliberation easy
Woodshed
Chronicles
by BOB COLLINS
the edge: Vasilev has a degree
in history from McGill, and
Selbee graduated in honours
English from UBC, and she is a
talented artist as well. These
skills have brought the
historical importance of the
land, traditional fermentation
methods, and heritage
orchards to the forefront.
"It's neat to do everything
in-house from harvesting to
bottling to design," says
Selbee.
They have a large garden,
and last year used their
garage to host a farm store for
the Pender Growers
Collective, a group of small-
scale and backyard growers.
“Our values are embedded
in what we do, says Vasilev.
Vasilev credits Selbee with
pushing new ideas, such as
presenting cider like wine
which can command a higher
price.
They are looking for ways
to diversify into related
products such as apple cider
vinegar, but they also want to
maintain their authenticity.
Plans have been tempered
by COVID-19, but some
changes made last fall made
the shift easier. A cider club
sends subscribers a shipment
of selected batches of cider to
their door, and the online
ordering system has been
useful with the tasting room
closed.
We used to have 50% to
60% of our sales from the
tasting room, and it has been
closed three months now,
says Vasilev. “COVID has
strengthened our customer
base. It boosted online sales.
The other 50% of sales is
from restaurant and liquor
stores. Both have decreased as
well during the pandemic, but
Vasilev remains optimistic.
They are lucky, he says,
because alcohol remains in
high demand even in times of
crisis.
Like many small businesses,
Twin Island Cider applied for
and received a $40,000 loan
from the Canada Emergency
Business Account but it was
not eligible for funding under
the Canada Emergency Wage
Subsidy.
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Veggie Days
adapts to event
restrictions
BC Ag in the Classroom creates
Fresh Flavours cooking series
Videos showing Chef Trevor Randle preparing dishes using BC greenhouse-grown vegetables replaced the
annual Veggie Days greenhouse tours, cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. PHOTO / AITC
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 37
by RONDA PAYNE
ABBOTSFORD – A highly
successful outreach initiative
of the BC Greenhouse
Vegetable Growers
Association every May is BC
Greenhouse Veggie Days.
The week-long event
includes a retail promotion as
well as school tours that
bring up to 1,500 students
through four Lower Mainland
greenhouses in partnership
with the BC Agriculture in the
Classroom Foundation.
But this year, school
closures and restrictions on
large events thanks to COVID-
19 forced BC AITC executive
director Pat Tonn and her
team to reconsider how they
could ensure the message,
and BC-grown vegetables,
still got into the hands of
students and their families.
We were talking with Chef
Trevor Randle, who is our
celebrity chef with
Agriculture in the Classroom,
and Chef Randle said to us,
Well, why don’t we take it to
the classroom?’ explains
Tonn. “So we talked with the
greenhouse growers and they
were really happy about that.
The Fresh Flavours cooking
series, available on the BC
AITC website, launched with
six new recipes and videos of
Randle preparing them from
his home kitchen using BC
greenhouse-grown tomatoes,
peppers and cucumbers.
Ruben Houweling, general
manager at Houwelings
Group in Delta, is one of this
years four participating
greenhouse operators. The
casual setting for the cooking
series and the greenhouse
tour videos that show how
the food is grown resonate
with him.
“I was involved in previous
years with the greenhouse
tours, he says. “Students were
so engaged in the
greenhouse. There were so
many questions. We had to
have another way [during
COVID] to reach out to them
and keep them engaged and
keep them in touch with
what we are doing.
To support the videos,
586,000 servings each of
tomatoes, cucumbers and
peppers were provided by BC
AITC to students around the
province with food security
challenges and in culinary
arts programs.
Tonn explains school
district hubs were established
with teams of coordinators to
dole out the vegetables that
would normally be
distributed in local schools.
Where the school district
couldn’t handle distribution,
BC AITC delivered vegetables
to the local food bank for
distribution in the
community.
We typically deliver a
school fruit and vegetable
program to over 90% of the
schools in British Columbia,
she says.
Chefs in the organizations
Take a Bite of BC program
have circulated the Fresh
Flavours videos to students,
encouraging them to make a
home project of it.
We know theres lots of
learning at home right now,
says Tonn. There’s an
opportunity for people who
are checking our website to
get the information and do
the learning at home.
Houweling says it’s
important to get younger
people in touch with where
their food is grown.
There’s always challenges
in … the way the public
might view what you’re
doing, he says. When you
can speak to people and they
can say, ‘Yeah, I know, I’ve
been in a greenhouse and
I’ve seen how it works, it
makes people more
relatable.
Tonn says with the
prospect of COVID-19 being
an issue well into the next
school year, she is exploring
additional ways to present BC
AITC programs. Teachers will
be given electronic resources
to provide to their classes
where possible, for example.
Houweling sees this
ongoing exposure to
agriculture as a good thing –
not just because it’s a form of
education about the industry
and is getting produce into
the hands of kids and
families, but also because
students are the future of the
greenhouse industry.
Whether its crop work or
growing, looking at nutrition
or fertilizer, or pests, whos
going to implement IPM,
whos going to be the
technicians and control
greenhouse equipment,
these are all jobs that young
people might not even be
aware of, he says.
To view the videos, visit
[https://bit.ly/2N3Wh3o].
VAN DER WAL EQUIPMENT
(1989)
LTD.
23390 RIVER ROAD, MAPLE RIDGE, BC V2W 1B6
604/463-3681 | vanderwaleq.com
JUWEL – EASE OF USE AND SAFETY OF OPERATION
FOR ANY STRATEGIC TILLAGE PRACTICE
LOOK TO LEMKEN
Juwel mounted reversible ploughs from LEMKEN combine operational reliability and ease of use
to deliver excellent performance.
@strategictill | lemken.ca
VanderWal Equipment
is now a LEMKEN dealer.
Optiquick for ploughing without lateral pull
TurnControl for safe plough turning
Hydromatic for disruption-free ploughing even in stony soils
Skimmer with easy adjustment options – all without tools
Also available as M version with hydraulic turnover device
Quality Pre-Owned Tractors & Equipment
AGCO ALLIS 6690 4WD W/LDR . . . 25,000
BOBCAT 5600 TOOL CARRIER . COMING
FELLA 800 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13,500
FORD 545 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,500
FORD 6610 CAB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . COMING
JCB 409 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47,000
JD 770 4WD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8,000
JD 3038E 4WD LDR . . . . . . . . . . . 24,000
KUHN 4002 POWER HARROW . .12,500
KUHN FC313 MOWER TG . . . . . 20,000
x2 KVERNELAND AB85
4 BOT PLOWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11,000 ea
KVERNELAND 4032 MOWER . . 16,000
KVERNELAND 9476 RAKE . . . . . . CALL
MCCORMICK GX45 4WD . . . . . . . CALL
MASSEY FERGUSON 285 . . . . . .11,500
MF 5460 4X4 LDR . . . . . . . . . . COMING
MF 6616 4WD LDR . . . . . . . . . . . .95,000
NEW HOLLAND TM150 . . . . . . . 47,000
NEW HOLLAND TS 115 . . . . . . . 25,000
SUNFLOWER 7232 23’ HARROW 17,500
TYCROP DUMP BOX 14’ . . . . . . . 9,500
WACKER NEUSON TH522
TELEHANDLER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52,500
38 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Summer
food in
colour
This light salad dressing is good on many dierent green salads, from strawberry, blue cheese and pecan; to feta, pear and walnut;
raspberry, cucumber and shrimp; or chicken and avocado, all with lovely fresh, BC-grown greens and herbs.
6 tbsp. (90 ml) extra virgin olive oil 4 tbsp. (60 ml) lemon juice 3 tbsp. (45 ml) water
2 tbsp. (30 ml) white wine vinegar 2 tbsp. (30 ml) black mustard seeds 2 tbsp. (30 ml) poppy seeds
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) dry mustard 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) brown sugar 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) sea salt
Put all ingredients in a small jar or cruet and shake well until it’s emulsied. Keeps for a week or so in the refrigerator.
Serves 8-10.
This is not a savoury pizza, but a very fun, colourful dessert, alive with fresh fruit atop a cookie crust and cream cheese icing. You could
substitute whatever fruit you have on hand. Make double this recipe for a larger pizza pan instead of a shallow pie pan.
Cookie crust:
1/4 c. (60 ml) butter 2 tbsp. (30 ml) icing sugar 1/2 c. (125 ml) our
Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
Mix crust ingredients together well until they can be brought together into a ball you can atten out on a shallow pie pan to
form the crust’ for your dessert pizza.
Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
Icing base:
1/4 c. (60 ml) cream cheese 2 tbsp. (30 ml) sugar 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) vanilla
Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together well until it is the consistency of icing and set aside until the cookie crust has
cooled. Spread over the cookie crust.
Fruit topping:
Core and slice pears; peel and slice peaches; or pit and slice apricots. Its nice to use fruit of a contrasting colour for the second
ring, so I used peeled and sliced kiwi.
For the inner ring, I used fresh strawberries, sliced; but raspberries, cherries or other fruit would also work well. I dotted the
outer ring with fresh blueberries, because the contrasting colour and avours are so inviting.
Spritz the entire pie with a little lemon juice to keep the colours fresh and make it glisten.
Alternatively, you could glaze the top.
Glaze (optional):
1 tbsp. (15 ml) cornstarch 1 tbsp. (15 ml) brown sugar 1/3 c. (75 ml) orange juice
1/4 c. (60 ml) light-coloured jelly
Blend together in a small pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a bubble and becomes
thick and clear. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly before spooning over the fruit topping.
Serves 4-8, depending on the slice size.
LEMON, MUSTARD AND POPPY SEED DRESSING
Sweet, colourful summer pizza. PHOTO / JUDIE STEEVES
PEACH OR PEAR PIZZA
Since we eat with our eyes
first, adding colour to salad
greens or dessert is an
inviting way to encourage
big and little appetites to
enjoy what’s healthy instead
of what’s fried in deep fat.
Add some fresh, local BC
beef, chicken, pork or lamb to
your plate and you have a
simple, healthy meal that
supports your neighbours
and friends as well as your
own health.
Eat well and stay healthy
and safe.
With mid-summer comes
the opportunity to make use
of a cornucopia of fresh,
healthy fruits and vegetables
from the farms, fields,
orchards and berry patches
of BC.
We are so lucky to have
the local, raw ingredients for
a wide variety of salads,
desserts and main dishes
right on our doorsteps.
For boosting your immune
system and staying healthy,
theres nothing like
increasing your intake of
fresh, simple produce instead
of reaching for the
convenience foods located in
boxes in the centre of your
grocery store or at the local
drive-through.
The most difficult part of
making a salad is probably
washing the greens and
drying them in a salad
spinner before popping them
into a bowl and adding some
fresh, crunchy vegetables. I
like a bit of local cheese in
my salad, particularly if it’s
my whole lunch, and I love
adding the crunch of nuts
and seeds as a garnish for
salads.
If salad is a bad word in
your household, try adding a
touch of sweet with fresh
berries or cherries, chopped
peaches, apricots, pears and
apples, and see if you can get
those taste buds turned
around.
Cucumbers and celery can
be chopped into any salad,
whether or not fruit or
cheese are part of the mix.
Try this magical Lemon,
Mustard and Poppy Seed
Dressing for a lean way to
add flavour to the whole mix
just before its served. With
the lemon and mustard, it
has a bit of pizazz and theres
a bite of crunchy seeds, too.
And, for dessert, go wild
and top a cookie iced with
cream cheese with fresh fruit,
in all the colours of the
rainbow. Everyone will want
to eat their fruit this way.
Jude’s Kitchen
JUDIE STEEVES
Fresh, cheery
fruit and berries
make summer
eating sweet
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JULY 2020 | 39
TRACTORS/EQUIPMENT
LIVESTOCK
LIVESTOCK
TRACTORS/EQUIPMENT
FOR SALE
COURTENAY HEREFORDS. Cattle for
Sale: yearling bulls and bred heifers.
John 250/334-3252 or Johnny
250-218-2537.
RAVEN HILL MEADOWS Flock reduc-
tion - will consider offers on yearling
rams and ewes, yearling rams and
ewes and mature ewes. We need to
downsize.250-722-1882. Nanaimo
NEW POLYETHYLENE TANKS
of all
shapes & sizes for septic and water
storage. Ideal for irrigation, hydroponics,
washdown, lazy wells, rain water, truck
box, fertizilizer mixing & spraying. Call
1-800-661-4473 for closest distributor.
Manufactured in Delta by Premier
Plastics Inc. premierplastics.com.
Toll Free 1-888-357-0011
www.ultra-kelp.com
REGISTRATION NO. 990134 FEEDS ACT
EXCELLENT RESULTS
FOR 35 YEARS!
FLACK’S BAKERVIEW KELP PRODUCTS INC
Pritchard, BC (est. 1985)
COMMUNITY
HAY
REAL ESTATE
SEED
BILL
AWMACK
1-888-770-7333
P
YESTERDAY’S TRADITION - TODAY’S TECHNOLOGY
MANAGERS
Phil Brown 250-293-6857
Catherine Brown 250-293-6858
ccr.princeton@gmail.com
www.coppercreekranch.com
PRINCETON, BC
Raising registered polled & horned Herefords & F1s.
BREEDING BULLS FOR SALE.
Call DON GILOWSKI
250-260-0828
Royal LePage Downtown Realty Ltd
INTERESTED IN BUYING OR SELLING
OKANAGAN FARM,
RANCH OR ACREAGE?
Exciting
New
Crop!
DIVERSIFY YOUR FARM WITH
HASKAPS
&
HONEYBERRIES!
This Super Berry has an amazing avour and is
loaded with antioxidants & vitamins. It is known
for its health benets and role in prevention
of cancer and cardiovascular diseases! Sold at
premium prices, they are great for value added
products like juices, jams, jellies, value added
nutraceuticals and alcoholic beverages!
4290 Wallace Hill Road, Kelowna, BC, V1W 4B6
info@agriforestbiotech.com
250.764.2224
www.agriforestbiotech.com
YOUR GO-TO PLACE FOR
• Small square bales of horse
HAY & STRAW
• Distillery WHEAT & RYE
EGBERT SCHUTTER
403-393-2418
e.h.schutter@gmail.com
DISCOVER
PRINCE GEORGE
NEARLY 500 ACRES of excellent
farmland. Stunning views. Only
800 m from Tachick Lake.
$1,190,900
WHAT A DELIGHT! Expansive
ranch home with exquisite views.
Ideal horse property w/private
spring fed lake. The home beams
with an abundance of natural
daylight. Just over 3,000 sqft
over 3 levels. 128 acres.
$699,900
NEARLY 500 ACRES of prime
farm land on Fraser River, almost
all in cultivation. 5 bed/3 bath
home, outbuildings. Turn-key
cattle ranch and/or prosperous
haying enterprise.
MLS®R2163561 $1,400,000
CASH FLOW! 5 homes on one
peaceful 4.4 acre lot. All houses
have been renovated. Completely
turnkey.
RANCHERS & DAIRY FARMERS:
637 acres, 2 residences, 6 mas-
sive outbuildings, 15 km from
downtown PG. MLS C8030418
$3,330,000
150+ ACRES Turn-key horse
breeding ranch, 2,900 sq ft log
home, fenced/cross-fenced. MLS
R2441103, $1,720,000
STATELY CHARM on 11 acres.
5 bed/3.5 bath.Barn and plenty of
room for horses.
MLS®R2379161 $699,900
2 ACRE BUILDING LOT, PG,
MLS R2446743, $79,900
55 ACRES Development potential
close to airport. MLS R2435958,
$599,900
112.02 ACRES IN CITY LIMITS.
Potential for development. MLS
R2435725. $1,300,000
271 LEVEL ACRES Not in the
ALR. Residential/commercial
rezoning potential. Fertile soil,
MLS C8027179.
MOUNTAIN RESORT on 82.2
acres. 17 furnished chalets, 50
RV campsites. MLS®C8019821
$5,500,000
Carrie Nicholson PREC*
250-614-6766
FARM EQUIPMENT
FIELD SPRAYERS, Truck,Trailer and
3PH models, 150 to 800 gal, 50’ to
90’, Hyd, Mech, or Wheel back fold.
Call for details.
NORTHWEST ROTOTILLER, Straw-
berry Row-Crop 2 row, $2950.
• 2 NEW CULTIVATORS, 3ph, 5 and 6’
S-tines, $650 each.
JD CULTIVATOR, Row-Crop for Spe-
cialty crops, 4 row, $950.
IH CULTIVATOR / SIDE-DRESSER,
Granular Fert, 4 row, $1850.
CULTIVATOR PARTS, New Duck Foot
tips, Call for other parts.
KUBOTA FLAIL MOWER, 50” 3ph,
$1950.
FLAIL PADDLE MOWER, 9’ Drawbar
Pull, Swath Boards, 540 PTO, $1500.
KUHN GC300G Disc Mower Condi-
tioner, 10’ cut, low acres, $11,900.
JD 467 Square Baler, low bale count,
1/4 turn shute, hyd tension, can
show bales, $10,500.
JD 670 Rake, wheel drive, drawbar
pull, $1850.
NH S1049 BALE WAGON, Self-Pro-
pelled, low usage, $19,500.
NH 258 and 260 Rakes with tow bar,
V-Combo set, $5900.
VICON WHEEL RAKES, 4 to 8 wheel,
3ph, drawbar and V Combinations,
$350 to $1400.
HAY WAGON and Utility Trailer Chas-
sis, $200 to $2000.
NEW BALE SPEARS for Skid Steer
and loader bucket mount, $150 to
$550.
NEW SKID STEER Brush Cutter 72’
head, $3250.
FORD UTILITY TRACTOR, 57 hp,
Cab, 3ph, PTO, mid-mount Sickle
Mower and front mount detachable
Angle Broom, Ex Military, Less than
1000 hrs $15,500.
FEEDER HAY, 400-16’ by 18’ Bales
on trailers, can deliver, OFFERS!
Call Jim for Anything!
Abbotsford at 604-852-6148
Looking for an organic mineral
supplement? Balanced and natural,
kelp is a great supplement for
horses, cattle, sheep and goats AND
its organic! $60 for 25lbs.
To order call: (250)-838-6684
Located in Enderb
y,
B.C.

FOR SALE
Feeders & Panels
that maintain
their value!
ROUND BALE FEEDERS
BIG SQUARE BALE FEEDERS
FENCE PANELS
CATTLE & HORSE FEEDERS
Heavy duty oil field pipe bale feeders.
Feed savers, single round bale feeders
outside measurement is 8’x8.5.’
Double round bale feeder
measurement is 15’x8’.
Silage bunk feeders.
For product pictures, check out
Double Delichte Stables on Facebook
Dan 250/308-9218 Coldstream
Pacifc Forage Bag Supply Ltd.
www.pacificforagebag.com
Call 604.319.0376
BERRIES
DeBOER’S USED
TRACTORS & EQUIPMENT
GRINDROD, BC
JD 7200 4WD, CAB, LDR 45,000
JD 6410 MFWD, CAB, LDR SOLD!
JD 2750 MFWD, CAB, LDR 29,000
JD7600 MFWD 45,000
JD 6300 MFWD, CAB, LDR 47,000
JD 230 24’ DBL FOLD DISK 16,500
ED DEBOER
250/838-7362 cell 250/833-6699
CURT DEBOER
250/838-9612 cell 250/804-6147
2015 INTERNATIONAL TERRASTAR
4WD w/sleeper, 17ft. custom-built
deck with hydraulic lift gate, like new
in and out with only 16,000 km.
$63,500; 2012 business class
FREIGHTLINER M2 106 24ft flatbed
truck with Cummins diesel, 6 speed
standard trans. Many unique features.
240,000 miles. Looks/runs great,
recent service, $35,500; Antique
CASE-O-MATIC 830 farm tractor, runs
like new, looks great, 60 HP $3,800;
ROCK PICKER former potato
harvester but works great removing
rocks. Rugged machine w/large catch
box. Ugly but works beautifully.
$3,500. 400 liter TIDY TANK w/15
gpm pump, new hose, nozzle. Like
new. $650; MX7 JOHN DEERE finish-
ing mower used only one season,
$3,800; FRONTIER RT1207 large tiller
just like new, $4,500. RANKIN B27
ripper subsoiler, like new, $2,500
Carl, 604-825-9108
FOR SALE
Registered Texel Ram & Ewe Lambs
High percentage Texel ewe lambs
Freezer lamb
250-546-6223 nlaysfarm@gmail.com
www.nlayfarm.com
ALBERT & DENA FINLAY 1952 RASHDALE RD., ARMSTRONG
USED & NEW SHIPPING CONTAINERS
Perfect for any storage needs.
www.coastcontainers.ca
866-761-2444
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;@JGC8P8;J1),gclj>JKg\iZfclde`eZ_
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8l^ljk@jjl\
;\X[c`e\1
Alcp)+#)')'
BC farmers & ranchers raising meat
outside the conventional system
www.smallscalemeat.ca
IRRIGATION
Irrigation Pipe |
Traveling Gun/Hose Reels
Pivots
|
Pumps
|
Power Units
Call for a quote on Irrigation Design and
our current inventory of new & used
Irrigation Equipment.
Several used 1,200ft pivots
&
used hose reels available now.
TALK TO BROCK 250.319.3044
Dynamic Irrigation
beyedynamic@gmail.com
EQUIPMENT DISPERSAL
2017 KUBOTA M6 -141 4WD LH rev,
cab, air, stereo, 24sp Powershift, 126
PTO HP, 540/1000 PTO, 2 sets
remotes, radials 12 weights front-cast
centers, rear. Loaded, as new, 597
hours. Warranty till May 2023.
$76,500
NEW HOLLAND 824 2 row corn head
$1,250 20 ft
HAY WAGON, aircraft tires, heavy
duty, $1,500
TONY 604-850-4718
TOP BORDER COLLIE pups for sale.
Ranch-raised for cattle or sheep.
Ready for new homes July 15. First
shots & wormed. 250-706-7077
Reg. breeding pair of BELGIAM
MALINOIS DOGS. Best of the best.
European bloodlines. Reg., vaccintaed,
micro-chipped. Some canine exp
necessary. 250-333-8862.
weldonbay@gmail.com
COW/CALF for sale. WAGYU calf born
Apr 20 w/3 yr old Angus cross cow.
Asking $2,400. Pitt Meadows. Text or
call Arnie 778-908-8513
40 | JULY 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
GREAT TOOLS
FOR GREAT RESULTS
For over 40 years, Great Plains has innovated tillage,
seeding and nutrient application equipment to give
customers the right tools to achieve great results. You
can now nd Great Plains implements, parts, and service
exclusively at your local Kubota Dealer. Contact us today.
kubota.ca |
1521 Sumas Way, Box 369
Abbotsford, BC V2T 6Z6
(604) 864-9568
avenuemachinery.ca
AVE010
PROUD PARTNER OF
OLIVER GERARD’S EQUIPMENT LTD 250/498-2524
PRINCE GEORGE HUBER EQUIPMENT 250/560-5431
SMITHERS HUBER EQUIPMENT 888/538-6137
VERNON AVENUE MACHINERY CORP 250/545-3355
ABBOTSFORD AVENUE MACHINERY CORP 604/864-2665
COURTENAY NORTH ISLAND TRACTOR 250/334-0801
CRESTON KEMLEE EQUIPMENT LTD 250/428-2254
DAWSON CREEK DOUGLAS LAKE EQUIPMENT 250/782-5281
DUNCAN ISLAND TRACTOR & SUPPLY LTD 250/746-1755
KAMLOOPS DOUGLAS LAKE EQUIPMENT 250/851-2044
KELOWNA AVENUE MACHINERY CORP 250/769-8700