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NOVEMBER 2020

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Vol. 106 No. 11
The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915 NOVEMBER 2020 | Vol. 106 No. 11
KUDOS
Country Life in BC wins a record eight national awards 8
TRADE
US launches investigation into blueberries 9
POLITICS
ALR co-founder, defender embraces retirement
23
by PETER MITHAM
BURNABY – BC dairy
farmers are joining with
producers across the country
in demanding Ottawa make
good on promises to
compensate them for
concessions made under
recent trade deals.
“BC dairy farmers are
calling on the government to
full its compensation
commitment to all Canadian
dairy farmers, who continue
to supply milk and dairy
products to communities
around the country," says
BC Dairy Association general
manager Jeremy Dunn.
Concessions under CUSMA,
which replaced NAFTA at the
beginning of July, have cost
the BC dairy industry
approximately $8.6 million to
date. Together with trade
deals Canada signed with
Europe (CETA) and the Asia-
Pacic region (CP-TPP), dairy
producers will no longer have
access to 18% of local
markets.
Ottawa announced $1.7
billion in compensation last
year for market access
granted under CETA and
CP-TPP, but it’s announced
nothing regarding
compensation for CUSMA
concessions. An initial
payment of $345 million to
dairy producers in December
2019 has yet to be followed
up, though the government
promised action in the throne
speech in September.
“Its been complete silence,
says David Wiens, vice-
president of the Dairy Farmers
of Canada, who shared
industrys concerns with
media on October 20.
A challenging year for Okanagan fruit growers came to an abrupt end on October 24 as snow blanketed their orchards and vineyards. Temperatures
in Oliver dipped to -15° C, cold enough to make ice wine, but well before growers were ready to do so. While the majority of crops are in, a number
of growers have led notices of loss with Production Insurance. PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
Ottawa urged to fulfil promises
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Apple
returns
raise
alarm
Growers
threaten to quit
by SARBMEET SINGH
& PETER MITHAM
KELOWNA – Okanagan
apple growers say ongoing
low returns and rising input
costs have pushed them to
the verge of quitting the
industry.
The nancial returns of
apple growers have been
steadily declining for the past
three years, says Pinder
Dhaliwal, an apple grower in
Oliver and president of the BC
Fruit Growers Association. “On
average, apple growers are
getting 12 cents per pound
for their produce. However, it
cost growers 30 cents per
pound. Under such a scenario,
Snow job
See APPLE on next page
o
APPLE growers face tough decisions as losses continue nfrom page 1
DAIRY producers face shrinking market nfrom page 1
it is very dicult for the
farmers to survive.
The data shows that
Ambrosia apples have been
hit hardest. Returns dropped
from 34 cents a pound in 2016
to only 13 cents a pound in
2019. Similarly, Spartans
returned 15 cents a pound in
2016 but farmers received just
2 cents a pound in 2019.
Growers say the main
reasons for declining returns
are competition from
Washington growers and a
lack of support from retailers.
The common practice of
retailers buying apples from
other countries is a major
reason for the drop in prices in
BC, said Amarjit Singh Lalli, a
Kelowna grower with 20 acres.
Lalli backed a late
resolution at the BCFGA
annual convention last winter
seeking immediate, short-
term nancial support from
the province for losses in
2019, and urging anti-
dumping duties against US
apples among other
measures.
Competition from
Washington, the largest
producer of apples in North
America, remains an ongoing
issue.
Apple production in British
Columbia reduced to 70,300
tons in 2019 from 155,000
tons in 1964. In contrast, apple
production in Washington
increased to 2,746,000 [tons]
in comparison to 465,000 in
1964, says BCFGA general
manager Glen Lucas
He says the Columbia River
Treaty, ratied in 1964 and
now being renegotiated by
Canada and the US, delivered
a stable supply of irrigation
water to Washington State,
allowing production there to
expand signicantly at the
expense of BC growers.
Growers would like to see a
renegotiated treaty
compensate them for benets
that Washington growers have
received under the treaty.
BCFGA has asked government
to consider an annual
allocation in the range of
$9.25 million.
Apple dumping
Dumping of apples is also a
concern. Growers won an anti-
dumping case against Red
Delicious apples in 1995. The
decision resulted in ve years
of duties, but those ended in
2000. However, some would
like to see ongoing
monitoring of imports.
There should be proper
checking at the border to
avoid any dumping of apples,
says Lalli.
The low cost of imports has
helped boost retailers
margins on apples, which
have increased more than
75% since 2016 to $1.48 a
pound.
“It is only the producers
that are facing the heat. If we
look at the gures, retail
returns continuously
increased while growers
continue to face the losses,
says Lucas.
Packing houses also have a
role to play, says Lalli, one of
the more than 350 growers
who ship to the BC Tree Fruits
Co-operative.
Another reason behind the
low returns are the expenses
of packing, he says.
BC Tree Fruits has been
working to cut packing costs
this year. A governance report
the co-op received in
February urged it to improve
fruit quality, setting minimum
standards rather than
accepting whatever growers
delivered. By accepting better
fruit, it could cut handling and
disposal costs, improving its
margins and the returns
growers receive.
This year, an incentive
program reduced the volume
of low-value fruit the co-op
received, benetting growers.
Better returns will improve
farmers’ livelihoods, but also
make farming more
rewarding. This hasn’t been
the case for apple growers in
recent years.
Nirmal Singh, who has 14
acres of apples, says persistent
low returns over the past
several years have been
frustrating.
“Survival is very dicult.
Leave aside the prot – we are
not even getting the input
costs, he says.
To raise awareness of the
issue, growers have taken
several steps to make their
concerns heard. They’ve met
with the provinces agriculture
minister, most recently this
past February, and on October
10 the BCFGA sold apples at
12 cents a pound at the
Kelowna Farmers and Crafters
Market to raise public
awareness. The association
called it the “BC Apples
Farewell Tour, indicating that
apple growers are being
forced to quit apple growing.
Apple growers believe the
BC government’s contribution
to agricultural support
programs is the lowest in
Canada, and Canadas support
level is below any other
developed nation.
Talwinder Singh Bassi, a
grower in Oliver, says it’s high
time government made
policies that put food security
rst.
As farmers are facing
losses, they will be forced to
quit agriculture. Emphasis
should be laid on selling of
local food rst, he says.
A statement from the
BCFGA says that producers are
squeezing every penny they
can to increase eciency, and
the packing industry is also
seeking to improve returns to
growers, but government also
has a role to play. While the
province has devoted
signicant eort to
strengthening farmland
protection, it also needs to
protect farmers.
“On one hand, eorts and
announcements are being
made to save the Agriculture
Land Reserve, but on the
other hand, nothing
substantial has been done for
the growers, says Dhaliwal. A
cash subsidy of seven cents
per pound was given to
[Washington] apple growers
during August this year. This
kind of support should also be
provided to BC apple
growers.
While some growers will
give up growing altogether as
a result of low returns, others
are looking at new crops.
“Many farmers have shifted
from apples to cherries in the
Okanagan Valley, says Lalli,
who is sticking with apples
but replacing Red Delicious
with Honeycrisp. “I am
working on changing the
varieties to survive and get
better returns.
2 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Without the compensation
that has been promised to us,
dairy farmers may have to
postpone or forgo
investments, which will have
serious consequences for
rural communities across the
country.
The loss would also be felt
by government. According to
DFC, the sector contributes $4
billion in tax revenues to
government coers each year.
The compensation is far
from a hand-out, Wiens
explained. Supply
management allows dairy
farmers to recoup their costs
from the market, but
concessions to foreign
producers mean their costs
are spread over a smaller
customer base.
The smaller market, and
consumer resistance to higher
prices, risks pushing
producers out of business.
The threat comes at a time
when the COVID-19
pandemic has reduced
demand from foodservice
channels and growing
competition from dairy
alternatives.
Throughout this
pandemic, dairy farmers have
not asked for compensation
as a result of the pandemic,
says Wiens. “But when parts of
our markets are being given
away to foreign producers,
that requires compensation,
because that is a very direct
hit on every dairy farm family
in the country.
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by PETER MITHAM
VICTORIA – With the BC
NDP emerging from the
October 24 election holding a
majority, stakeholders are
jostling to advocate on key
issues the new government
will have to address.
While the NDP platform
prioritized a new tech-driven
regenerative agriculture
network as the centrepiece of
its agricultural platform,
stakeholders say safeguards
for farmers and water
regulations need to be
addressed.
Groundwater is a particular
concern thanks to new rules
that require registration of
existing wells for non-
domestic water use by
February 28, 2022, just 16
months away. Through
October 23, 4,055 applications
had been received and just
1,068 licences issued.
The British Columbia
Ground Water Association has
circulated an open letter
urging all parties to make
groundwater licensing a
priority during the next
session of the legislature.
We plan to follow-up with
the new government as soon
as cabinet ministers are
announced to request a
meeting to further discuss
licensing, says general
manager Dave Mercer.
The letter reiterates
concerns originally expressed
in late 2018 in a letter that
prompted an extension of the
deadline to register existing
wells until 2022. Two years
later, little has changed.
We are concerned by, 1) a
continuing lack of licensing
applications from existing
groundwater users, and
2) unacceptable delays in
processing of licence
applications that are
submitted, the letter states.
“Simply maintaining the status
quo is insucient and puts
the entire licensing program
at risk.
Processing times of two
years are not uncommon for
groundwater licence
applications, Mercer says, and
more than one year is the
norm.
“Businesses simply cannot
survive waiting potentially
multiple years to be granted a
licence, the letter states.
“Expanding the agrifood
sector has been identied as a
priority for BC, yet farmers
simply cannot survive a
two-year gap between their
decision to invest in
developing groundwater
supplies and being able to put
that investment to work.
Only the BC Greens had
responded to the letter by
election day, emphasizing
watershed protection rather
than groundwater specically.
Trespass protection
Ranchers and livestock
producers generally also want
stronger protections from
trespassers.
While farmers applauded
amendments last fall to the
provinces Trespass Act, it took
months for the province to
bring them into force.
However, the BC Cattlemens
Association say they lack
teeth.
The province has made
some eort to strengthen the
rules but more substantial
changes are needed to
increase nes and lay charges
quickly so that the laws are a
deterrent to this behaviour,
says Elaine Stovin, assistant
general manager with BC
Cattlemens.
The shortcomings of the
current law were amply
highlighted in the recent case
of a protest outside a Kelowna
turkey farm led by Amy
Soranno, who is facing
charges of break and enter
and mischief in connection
with the occupation of an
Abbotsford hog farm in April
2019. It took nearly a year to
lay charges, and Soranno
remains active in protests.
“Our hope for reinforcing
the Trespass Act is to deter
criminal activity, making rural
living safer for farmers and
ranchers. In our view, nes
should be hefty and increase
with repeat oences, says
Stovin.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 3
Caught in the act
Despite restrictions on foreign labour this year, migrant workers were essential to bringing in the crops
at Summer Hill Farm in Kelowna and elsewhere across the province this fall.
PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
BC Cattlemens would also
like to see a designated Crown
counsel handling the cases to
ensure familiarity with
precedents and continuity in
prosecutions.
Stronger protections for
farmers from trespass was part
of the BC Liberal platform, but
absent from the BC NDP
platform. However, it says it
formed a working group prior
to the election that includes
both industry and law-
enforcement representation.
“[It] is already at work on next
steps and a BC NDP
government will continue
with this work, the party says.
The focus of the BC NDP
platform is building on the
successes of the past three
years. In addition to the Grow
BC, Feed BC and Buy BC
programs, it plans a new
“Regenerative Agricultural
Network that combines
natural systems of production
with agri-technologies such as
“robotics, precision farming,
and mesh networks.
The emphasis on agri-tech
in the network reects the
government’s most recent
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
economic plan. It also echoes
a controversial
recommendation of the
provinces food security task
force that 28,500 acres of
farmland be allocated for agri-
industrial use.
While no further updates
were issued, the details may
appear as part of plans for the
new network.
The use of the term
“regenerative” to describe the
network appeals to the
provinces organic sector.
COABC executive director
Eva-Lena Lang looks forward
to discussing network details
with the province.
“Organic and regenerative
agriculture stem from each
other, and we are looking
forward to engaging with the
ministry as the opportunity
arises, she said. “However, it is
also crucial that any new
program is based in science,
guards against greenwashing,
and engages sector
participants for increased
collaboration to decrease
duplicity.
Groundwater, trespassing issues
carry over from last session
New government
faces old issues
in next term
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The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915
Vol.106 No. 11 . NOVEMBER 2020
Published monthly by Country Life 2000 Ltd.
www.countrylifeinbc.com
Publisher Cathy Glover
604-328-3814 . publisher@countrylifeinbc.com
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Associate Editor Peter Mitham
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Lest we forget, PW!
Time for action
Within 90 minutes of the polls closing on October 24, observers were
declaring the BC NDP victors with a rm majority in the legislature. While more
than mail-in 500,000 ballots have yet to be counted, few expect the results to
change signicantly. The election saw the BC Liberals largely relegated to the
ridings beyond Hope, although residents of the Interior and northern BC looking
towards Victoria might well say the same thing about the NDP.
The divide is one Lana Popham – the once and presumed future agriculture
minister – acknowledged to Country Life in BC during her rst term in cabinet.
“I’m an urban minister of agriculture, she said. “So there’s a fear I won’t recognize
rural BC for what it is. While urban pundits have suggested a housing
aordability crisis that drove NDP voters into traditional BC Liberal ridings
helped give the NDP a majority in urban ridings, many have felt the NDP is
pursuing an agenda divorced from realities outside Victoria. The furore over
changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve and the lack of meaningful change to
date on rural slaughter capacity are two key issues where the government has
repeatedly drawn re.
This doesn’t mean the agriculture sector isn’t well represented in the
legislature, of course.
Popham retained her seat in Saanich South and her sunny disposition (shes
known to describe herself as “Polly-Lana”) will continue to stand her and the
province in good stead. Ian Paton, who has often spoken of how changes to the
Agricultural Land Reserve regulations aect him personally, won re-election in
South Delta. In the Okanagan, former agriculture minister Norm Letnick and
vintner Ben Stewart were re-elected. Further north, Dan Davies was returned in
Peace River and, on Vancouver Island, Ronna-Rae Leonard – a member of the
legislatures select standing committee on agriculture, sh and food – once more
represents Courtenay-Comox.
The return of several experienced MLAs across the political spectrum means
farmers can – for better, for worse – expect a measure of continuity regarding
their issues. While incoming MLAs will miss a chance to get up to speed on
agricultural issues this fall thanks to COVID-19 cancelling BC Agriculture Council
plans for an in-person Ag Day event, their constituents will undoubtedly make
Out of adversity comes opportunity. This bit of
wisdom is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. It is
unlikely he was the rst to realize it. It is fundamental
to
mankinds
problem-
solving
nature.
COVID-19
has
delivered
adversity in full measure, and the need to overcome
it leads to another old proverb: necessity is the
mother of invention.
All segments of society have been faced with the
need to overcome some level of COVID adversity.
Agriculture is no exception.
The scope of the challenge has varied widely. A
family-run beef ranch in the Blackwater may have
experienced little change in day to day operations,
while a large greenhouse operation in the Fraser
Valley might have required a complete re-write of
workplace protocols. There are signicant hurdles to
public engagement on any level and farm market, u-
pick and agri-tourism operators have had their
thinking caps on for months.
We have seen both ends of the spectrum here on
our farm. Aside from some custom work to make hay
and silage, work with the beef cows is covered
exclusively by family members, and the cows are
notoriously stand-osh when it comes to strangers.
Its a totally dierent story on the other side of the
fence in the pumpkin eld. The entire crop relies on
u-pick marketing. Over the years, it has evolved into
an event wherein customers are hauled on a hayride
wagon from a parking area at our oce, through the
woods, to the eld. There is food service, baby goats
and chickens, and a communal re pit back at the
oce. It all ran like clockwork – until COVID-19
changed the ground rules.
Reimagining
We realized before the pumpkins were planted
that the pandemic was unlikely to be over before
October, and the hayrides, food service, petting farm
and re pit were all o the table. The reimagining
was well underway before the plants came up. Sta
would need to be reduced and distanced from
customers, customers would need to be kept in
household groups and distanced from one another,
common surfaces would need to be sanitized, hand
sanitizer would be available coming and going from
the eld, and a name and contact information would
be required from each vehicle when arriving.
A plan came together: extend open days and
hours, ask customers to give their contact info
verbally from their vehicle, direct them to follow the
scarecrows through the woods and be shown
parking spots in the barnyard, have them walk in
isolated groups to the gate, and provide them a
wheelbarrow and pruning shears, instruct them to
maintain distance from other groups and proceed on
a one-way route ending at a touchless pay station.
None of this was rocket science. It did require
some road work and several loads of gravel in the
barnyard, an armful of pruning shears, a major
expansion of the wheelbarrow eet, and a touchless
card reader that functions through an app on a cell
phone.
Several things became apparent as soon as the
season started: customers were ne with driving to
the patch, everyone was on board with the family
groups and social distancing, they were given a
wheelbarrow and left to follow a set course through
the patch. Each group bought multiple pumpkins (in
some cases needing a second wheelbarrow), the in-
eld touchless pay option was well received,
simplifying the whole payment process for us and
providing detailed sales statistics to boot.
What began as a response to COVID-19 adversity
ended up being an opportunity to do things
dierently. Many of the changes, made by necessity,
will be permanent because they turned out to be a
better way of doing things that will foster more
innovation.
By its very nature, agriculture is a great training
ground for dealing with adversity. There is no
shortage of farmers and ranchers ready to reimagine
their operations and change course in the face of
adversity.
COVID-19 isn’t the same kind of adversity as
drought, frost, hail and hoppers. It demands respect
and it will take ongoing diligence and innovation to
manage it.
It seems destined to cause lasting social change
and with the change, there are bound to be
opportunities for agriculture.
Bob Collins raises beef cattle and grows produce on
his farm in the Alberni Valley.
The Back Forty
BOB COLLINS
them aware in short order of what needs to be done.
Yet with more than three years in Victoria under its belt, the BC NDP have not
been re-elected to learn the ropes. When normal government operations resume
the week of November 16, the new, stronger mandate requires the NDP to show
that it knows whats what. Consultations on several intentions papers are also set
to wrap up, and government needs to provide farmers and ranchers with clarity
on how its intentions will be implemented.
Premier John Horgan won the trust of urban voters; now his government must
deliver results for the vast swathe of country represented on the Opposition
benches.
Finding the perks in a pandemic world
4 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Changing times require a flexible vision for BC agriculture
The sectors economic impact makes it key to the provinces success
economic impact assessment
of the sector. In addition to
the regular economic metrics
of GDP, output and
employment, the report
includes an assessment of the
sectors strengths, opportunities,
threats and weaknesses and
case studies that illustrate
how BC agriculture contributes
to other areas of society. An
additional highlight of the
report was how the sector can
play a major role in helping
the province weather and
recover from the pandemic-
induced economic downturn,
particularly in rural
communities. This report is an
important foundational
document for a sector-wide
vision and can be viewed on
BCAC’s and IAF’s websites
[http://bit.do/BCAC-IAFBC-
EIA2020].
We have three goals in
mind for a sector vision. The
rst is the tools we need to
communicate how BC
agriculture provides solutions
to public sector issues.
Ranchers in the Cariboo know
how their stewardship of land
directly impacts wildre
management, species at risk
and ood mitigation. We need
to be able to eectively
communicate the ways we are
actively addressing important
issues.
Second, we need to hear
from our sector and
acknowledge the whole value
chain. We need to continue
recognizing the role that food
processors play in getting our
The early days of the
COVID-19 pandemic were a
shock to many British
Columbians. The sight of
empty grocery store shelves
and food hoarding unsettled
our urban population. But it
didn’t take long for our
farmers, food producers, and
retailers to restock the shelves
and restore balance. Our food
system, with BC farmers at its
heart, is resilient, innovative,
and able to adapt to sudden
crises.
Before COVID-19, the
provincial and federal
governments made eorts to
develop strategies for Canadas
and BC’s food systems. In early
2017, the federal government
identied the agriculture and
food sector as an economic
engine with great potential for
growth. Its Agri-Food
Economic Strategy Table came
out with an ambitious vision:
“By 2025, Canada will be one
of the top ve competitors in
the agri-food sector,
recognized as the most
trusted, competitive and
reliable supplier of safe,
sustainable, high-quality agri-
food products and an
innovator in value-added
products to feed the dynamic
global consumer.
In January 2020, BCs own
food security task force
recommended that the
province “fully embrace” the
United Nations Sustainable
Development Goals by
implementing them in
BC’s agricultural
policies. Its report also
highlighted BC’s
potential to become a
global leader in the
agri-tech space,
provided we support
innovation and education,
and make land available to
accommodate the sectors
growth.
While compelling and
complementary to the sector,
something was missing. Our
response. How do we, as
farmers, plan to meet
ambitious export targets?
How can we contribute to the
broader societal challenges
identied by the food security
task force? To answer these
questions, BC agriculture
needs to come together and
express its own plan for the
future.
Times have certainly
changed and we collectively
need to embrace new ideas,
work on new ways to tell our
story, tackle the challenges
facing our industry, and
nurture prosperity for our
sector and province.
To initiate a sector-wide
vision, the BC Agriculture
Council and Investment
Agriculture Foundation of BC
commissioned a consulting
rm (MNP) to develop an
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 5
products into the hands of
consumers. Likewise, we need
to acknowledge the
substantial size of the
aquaculture and seafood
industry in our province and
the contributions it makes to
our food supply and the
economy. We understand the
challenges that come with
including dierent groups and
interests, but we know that
we can identify key issues to
rally behind and propel our
entire industry forward.
The third goal for the vision
is the maintenance and
development of strategic
partnerships. We will increase
our engagement with other
government departments,
First Nations, the private
sector, and not-for-prot
groups. By collaborating with
these groups, we can create
opportunities for growth and
positive change along the
value chain.
It is essential that we have a
concrete plan for responding
to government strategies and
emerging public priorities. In
the coming months, we will
be engaging industry to
ensure the vision reects our
reality.
Lastly, know that our work
is with farm sustainability in
mind. It is critical to ensure
that family farms, ranches,
shers and food processors in
BC thrive, now and over the
coming years. Agriculture and
food processing are changing,
as it has for hundreds of years.
The vision will help the entire
food chain focus on what
needs to be done to let
businesses evolve and adapt
to changing conditions.
Healthy, sustainable and, dare
we say, protable farms and
processors are key to cultivating
prosperity for all of BC.
Stan Vander Waal is
president of the BC Agriculture
Council and owner of Rainbow
Greenhouses Inc., a wholesale
grower and distributor of potted
plants in Chilliwack. Don Low is
the chair of the Investment
Agriculture Foundation of BC
and a cherry grower from
Creston.
Viewpoint
by DON LOW &
STAN VANDER WAAL
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Invasive hornet
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0 Avenue hornet capture had
border beekeepers on edge
A tiny tracking device was tted to an Asian Giant Hornet just south of the Canada-US border in October and that
led state ofcials to a nest in Blaine, WA. PHOTO / SHERI HARTMAN
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LANGLEY – Washington
agriculture sta destroyed
North America’s second-
known invasive hornet nest
on October 24, following
positive identication of the
insect in Langley and
elsewhere.
Two of the Asian Giant
Hornets were captured on
October 9, one along 0
Avenue in Langley and
another in Blaine, and
beekeepers were asked to be
vigilant.
“Beekeepers in the area
have been alerted, says
provincial apiculturist Paul
van Westendorp, who also
notied the Washington State
Department of Agriculture.
The nd may assist in nding
the location of the nest
through geo-triangulation.
That’s what happened on
October 22, when a hornet
tagged with a tracking device
led WSDA sta to a nest in the
crevice of a tree on a
residential property.
“Dozens of the hornets
were seen entering and
exiting the tree while the
WSDA team was present, a
press release stated.
The nd in Langley was the
second AGH found in BC this
year. The rst was identied in
May, also in Langley.
AGH are non-native
invasive honeybee predators
which can be up to 5 cm. in
length. Reproductive females
and males emerge in late fall
to feed in preparation for
mating and overwintering. An
international eort has been
trying to locate and eradicate
them before they have time
to do this.
WSDA has a special call-in
line for the states beekeepers
to report hive attacks. Close
to two dozen hornets had
been captured in traps in
Whatcom County as of
October 22.
AGH deliver a sting and
toxic venom that can be
serious or life-threatening if
someone is allergic or
receives repeated stings, so
caution around the insects is
advised.
“Last year a beekeeper was
checking his hives in October
south of Sumas, says WSDA
entomologist Chris Looney.
“Dead bees were piled up
outside one hive, and when
he opened it, three to four
[AGH] came out, one stung
him and he was in pain for
over a week.
Some members of the
team that dismantled the rst
known AGH nest in North
America in Nanaimo last fall
have also experienced the
hornet’s sting.
“It was like a red-hot thumb
tack driven into the esh, says
Conrad Berube, an
entomologist with 35 years of
beekeeping experience.
Typical beekeeping attire will
not protect you.
During the Nanaimo
operation he was wearing a
Kevlar vest, a double layer of
clothing, and braces to guard
against chainsaw injuries.
Despite the hornets’ erce
reputation, WSDA managed
to live-trap several specimens
and attach a radio transmitter
to them with dental oss in
the hopes of tracking them to
their nests. University of
Washington electrical and
computer engineering
doctoral student Vikram Iyer,
who works on insect robotics
and wireless technologies,
developed a sensor small
enough and light enough to
attach to an AGH so that it
could still y and be tracked
to its nest.
The trackers can be picked
up by cell phones, but the
battery life was low. The
October 22 discovery was
made possible using trackers
USDA was using to monitor
Spotted Lanterny
infestations in the US
Northeast.
The trackers have not been
without challenges. The signal
can be lost in thick forest.
Several hornets have
disappeared. One chewed o
its transmitter.
WSDA entomologists
believe two or three hornet
nests exist in Whatcom
County. Besides the one
found in Blaine, trapping
indicates there could be
another one in the vicinity as
well as around Birch Bay.
We are trying to nd them
because they are approaching
breeding season now, says
WSDA managing
entomologist Sven Spichiger.
With the Canadian nd, we
know our Canadian
counterparts are doing
everything they can, also.
8 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Immaculately kept 64.7 acres; 32 in hay.
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One of the nicest parcels I have seen come
available in a decade! Land is mostly at and
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amazing vistas and roadways within for easy
access throughout. Borders onto Crown land
and is privately situated at the end of the
road. $599,000
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Country Life in BC wins a record eight national awards
Paper published the top agricultural photo in the country last year
by PETER MITHAM
ENDERBY – Country Life in BC received a record
eight awards from the Canadian Farm Writers
Federation at its annual awards ceremony at the
end of September, held this year via
videoconference.
Selected from a national jury both inside and
outside of the agricultural sector, prize-winning
entries reect the best of farm journalism in 2019.
And the best, according to the judges, often
appeared here rst.
The top honour went to photog
rapher Sarah
Zuberbühler of Chilco Ranch in Hanceville, 90
kilometres west of Williams Lake. Zuberbühler’s
shot of Pat Jasper as he rode through a stand of
trees ravaged by the wildres that swept the
Cariboo-Chilcotin in 2017 graced the cover of the
October 2019 issue. It placed rst in the landscape
photography category and was ranked best photo
overall in Canada for 2019. The judges described it
as a “well thought-out and visually pleasing shot
with a sharp focus and vibrant colours that made
for a beautiful composition.
Country Life in BC also dominated with photos of
production, both of which appeared in the
November 2019 issue. Lindsay Bartko received a
silver award for her photo “Horse power while
associate editor Peter Mitham received a bronze
award for “Herding hens on the issues cover.
Ronda Payne received a bronze award in the
people category for her September 2019 cover
portrait of Gaurav Maan, winemaker at Maan Farms in Abbotsford.
On the writing front, top honours went to columnist and raconteur Bob
Collins, who received a gold award in the press column category for his Back
40 oering in the April 2019 issue, “BC farmers need more than a and bank.
Silver in the press editorial category went to Mitham for his June 2019
editorial, “No peace, no order.
Recognition of the two columns highlighted the
importance of the need to protect farmers, not just
farmland. The press editorial addressed the
growing risk to farmers from harassment and
trespass specically, issues addressed later that
year by amendments to the provincial Trespass
Act.
Judie Steeves earned silver in the hotly
contested press feature category for her August
2019 story, “Ranchers collaborate to preserve
grasslands, about the partnership between the
Clifton family of Keremeos and the Nature Trust to
restore and preserve sensitive grasslands while
providing grazing and water access to the ranch’s
cattle.
We were so excited to be called out in so
many categories this year. Its a record for us, says
Country Life in BC publisher Cathy Glover. This
really is a team eort – and it was awesome to
see our team recognized at a national level.
In addition to current contributors, past
Country Life in BC contributor Tamara Allbright-
Leigh won a bronze award in the press feature
category for Welcome back, a story about the
younger generations returning to their families
farms that appeared in Grainswest.
Country Life in BC was a sponsor of the
monthly press reporting category, swept by
Country Guide magazine of Winnipeg.
The Canadian Farm Writers Federation is the
umbrella organization for the countrys six r
egional farm communicators
associations, including the BC Farm Writers Association. It represents 350
English-speaking agricultural journalists, broadcasters and communicators
from across Canada.
The full slate of winners is available for download at [bit.do/CFWF-2020-
awards].
1-888-770-7333
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Undeliverable labels to:
Country Life in BC
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Enderby, BC V0E 1V4
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Vol. 105 No. 10
The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915
OCTOBER 2019 | Vol. 105 No.10
ALR
New round of changes coming to land reserve
7
URBAN AG
City Beet harvests profits from urban gardens
15
BERRIES
Bumper crop pushes down blueberry prices
21
by MARGARET EVANS
AGASSIZ—Julaine Treur has
had it with threats from
animal activists. She and her
husband run Creekside Dairy
in Agassiz where they produce
certied organic milk.
They own 72 acres and
farm about 220 acres with the
addition of rental land in
order to provide their cattle
with sucient forage. They
share their farming
experiences with followers on
Facebook but, earlier this
spring, they were horrically
targeted by animal activists
with threats of verbal and
physical violence. While Treur
has become used to seeing
attacks on her page,
threatening activity stepped
up in March.
The threats made on her
Facebook page scared her.
One activist wanted to report
her to BC child protection
ocers for exposing her
children to animal abuse,
while another accused her of
being a “sadistic psychopath
rapist murderer.” Treur,
however, controlled the
assaults by blocking access to
her Facebook page. She also
led a police report.
“I’ve blocked over 300
people and hidden more rude,
threatening and demeaning
comments than I can count,
she says.
The family milks 100 Brown
Swiss cows and the farm has
been certied organic since
2015. The milk is shipped to
the Meadowfresh processing
plant in Port Coquitlam and
marketed under the Happy
Planet label.
by PETER MITHAM
NANOOSE BAY—Rusted
Rake Farm on Vancouver
Island is weighing its options
after the Agricultural Land
Commission told it to focus
on farming before it seeks
approval for its on-farm
restaurant and brewery.
A decision dated
September 5 told the farm
the popular 100-seat
restaurant it has been
operating in Nanoose Bay was
not in compliance with
regulations governing
activities in the Agricultural
Land Reserve, and that its
plans for a brewery needed to
be put on hold until it
achieved a level of grain
ALC
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Pat Jasper makes his way through trees burned in the wildre that raced through the Cariboo-Chilcotin in 2017. A wet summer and the
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SARAH ZUBERBÜHLER PHOTO
Bill will rein in activists
See FARM on next page
o
See ONLINE on next page
o
An investigation launched this fall by US trade ofcials will determine if blueberry imports, including those from
Canada, are having a negative impact on US growers. FILE PHOTO / PETER MITHAM
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 9
Exports of bell peppers,
strawberries also targeted
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ABBOTSFORD – BC
blueberry growers are under
investigation as part of a
wide-ranging review of how
international imports are
aecting US farmers.
The investigation is the
result of a report US Trade
Representative Robert
Lighthizer, the US
Department of Agriculture
and US Department of
Commerce released in
September “to address
threats that increased
imports pose to American
producers of seasonal and
perishable fruits and
vegetables.
A federal investigation of
blueberries under Section
201 of the US Trade Act is the
reports top recommendation.
Lighthizer asked the US
International Trade
Commission to launch the
investigation September 29.
“Its very dicult to say
what the impact will be on
the blueberry industry, says
Anju Gill, executive director
of the BC Blueberry Council.
The report notes that US
blueberry imports increased
from 50 million pounds in
2005 to nearly 400 million
pounds in 2018.
US blueberry imports last
year totaled US$1.2 billion,
led by Peru at US$485 million.
Canada was the fourth largest
source of US blueberry
imports in 2019, with
shipments worth US$116
million.
But grower testimony
gathered for the report
highlighted Mexico as the
primary concern of US
growers on account of fast-
rising production that
competes directly with
production in the southern
US.
However, the investigation
into the adverse impact of
imports looks at all countries.
Whereas a country-
specic investigation could
only yield a country-specic
remedy, a Section 201
investigation for blueberries
must necessarily analyze
blueberry imports from all
countries comprehensively
and account for such in any
recommended action to the
President, the report notes.
Gill says berries from
Canada will be looked at as
part of the global concern
but CUSMA, which replaced
NAFTA this year, ensures that
Canadian berries will also be
assessed separately. She
explains the investigation has
three phases: determining if
US growers have been hurt
by Canadian imports; a
recommendation of trade
remedies; and a decision by
the White House whether or
not to implement those
remedies.
A determination of injury
must be made within 120
days, by January 27, 2021.
Any measures wouldn’t be in
place until next June at the
earliest, says Gill.
Lighthizer has also
pledged to pursue an
investigation of strawberries
and bell peppers, which
could enable an expedited
Section 201 global safeguard
investigation by the end of
the year.
However, the USTR must
rst ask the US International
Trade Commission to initiate
a 90-day fact-nding or
monitoring period. This has
not yet happened for either
strawberries or bell peppers.
We don’t have the letter
requesting its start, says
Linda Delli Santi, executive
director, BC Greenhouse
Growers Association. “[But]
we have no reason to think
that it won’t happen. … We’re
aware of it and we are making
preparations.
A monitoring period gives
growers time to develop their
case, engage government,
and prepare for a formal
investigation, Delli Santi
notes. Blueberries were
denied this luxury.
Theyre going to have go
like spit, she said.
Legal counsel
Trade ocials in Ottawa
have retained legal counsel to
represent industry, led by the
BC Blueberry Council, during
the US investigation.
Gill characterizes the
investigation as largely a
question of data analysis,
noting growth of global
blueberry production has
created issues in several
markets. While the
production of blueberries
worldwide is no secret, the
impact on traditional growing
areas has been signicant.
Speaking at the Pacic
Agriculture Show in
Abbotsford this past winter,
US Highbush Blueberry
Council president Kasey
Cronquist urged BC growers
to work with him to grow the
market for blueberries. He
said growers on both sides of
the Canada-US border have
one unifying goal: “Sell more
blueberries at a fair prot.
USHBC is prohibited from
engaging in any eorts for
the purpose of inuencing
government action or policy
and cannot participate in the
investigation. However, both
the USHBC and the North
American Blueberry Council
will continue to ght for the
success of the industry on
both sides of the border.
Guiding the USHBC’s
eorts is Maple Ridge grower
and exporter Ray Biln, who
represents exporter interests
on the council’s board.
US launches
investigation
into blueberries
Animal welfare concerns driving
shift to group housing
Hog producers could been given a ve-year extension to convert their hog barns to group housing by the National
Farm Animal Care Council but the BC SPCA is calling for an immediate end to conned housing. FILE PHOTO
10 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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ABBOTSFORD – BCs pork
producers insist they are
committed to high standards
of care for livestock even in
the face of a cash crunch.
The National Farm Animal
Care Council (NFACC) has
proposed amendments to the
codes of practice for the care
and handling of pigs.
“Its changing the way pigs
are housed, says Jack DeWit,
president of the BC Pork
Producers Association
(BCPPA).
If adopted, the
amendments would provide a
ve-year extension for pork
producers to transition
gestating mother pigs from
stalls to group housing.
The extension until 2029 is
partially based on the impact
of the COVID-19 pandemic on
the sector, but DeWit
suggests theres another
critical factor inuencing the
proposed delay.
“Farmers have had a tough
few years nancially, and they
haven’t had the ability to
convert barns [to group
housing], he says. The
infrastructure is tired. Barns
are old and producers are not
willing to spend dollars on
conversion.
One of BC’s largest
producers shifted to group
housing but DeWit
anticipates some of the 13 or
14 large commercial farmers
in the province could leave
the business rather than
change housing
arrangements.
“If there are no extra
returns from the marketplace,
producers will make decisions
accordingly, says DeWit, who
raised pigs for 40 years.
NFACC brings together
stakeholders to develop
codes of practice for the care
and handling of farm animals
while also creating a process
for the development of
animal care assessment
programs and providing a
forum for open dialogue on
farm animal welfare.
In response to the
proposed amendments to the
codes of practice, the BC
SPCA is calling for an end to
connement housing and an
expeditious transition to
group housing.
“One third of sows in
Canada are now housed in
groups, demonstrating an
important step forward for
their welfare. However, two-
thirds of farms have yet to
make these changes, says the
SPCA in a September 25
media release.
Humane Canada
represented BC SPCA on the
code development
committee. SPCA urges
farmers to convert to group
housing immediately and to
commit themselves to
learning the new animal
management skills required
for group housing,
“recognizing that a
generation of animal care
skills has been lost while
farms have been using stalls.
SPCA also calls on the
Canadian Pork Council to
report on progress annually,
as well as farm compliance,
and to eliminate the
“loophole allowing farmers to
continue keeping their pigs in
stalls simply by providing
‘periodic exercise. It wants
government to fund the
transition to group housing
and for grocery retailers to
honour a commitment to
source fresh pork from sows
raised in groups.
“BC SPCA is also calling for
the creation of an
independent, third-party
inspection and auditing
system for BC farms to ensure
the codes of practice,
currently self-regulated by
industry, are upheld and
implemented, the association
says in its media release.
NFACC’s proposed
amendments are open for
public comment until
November 19.
We encourage all
Canadians to express their
views during the public
comment period on the pig
code, says the SPCA.
But DeWit, who sits on the
Canadian Pork Council, is
adamant that producers are
committed to evolving
operations and humane
conditions for their livestock.
“Farmers know their
animals and farms. They know
how their animals behave.
There will be a learning curve
(with facility conversion) but
farmers are people who love
their animals, he says.
More information on the
proposed amendments to the
codes of practice for the care
and handling of pigs can be
found at [www.nfacc.ca/
codes-of-practice/pigs].
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Hog producers
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code of practice
Tantalus Vineyards general manager and wine maker David Paterson, left, Sustainable Winegrowing BC program manager Katie Pease and Tantalus
vineyard manager and long-time SWBC board member Felix Egerer are happy to see the launch of a new initiative to recognize wine that meets
sustainable standards. PHOTO / TOM WALKER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 11
by TOM WALKER
KELOWNA – The rst wines
certied under a new made-
in-BC sustainability program
could be on shelves as early
as next spring.
We are excited to be
nally launching our ocial
certication process, says
Katie Pease, program
manager for Sustainable
Winegrowing BC (SWBC).
Originally scheduled to
launch this past April, COVID-
19 delayed the program’s
launch until November 1. With
the program up and running,
BC vineyards and wineries are
now able to apply for a third-
party audit, receive
certication and describe
their wine as “made from
grapes grown in a certied
sustainable vineyard” or
“made in a certied
sustainable winery.
Program development
began more than 10 years
ago, driven mostly by industry
volunteers under the auspices
of the BC Wine Grape Council.
Since then, the council’s
sustainability committee has
drawn members from across
the sector.
We have representatives
from the big players like
Arterra and Andrew Peller, as
well as medium-size wineries
like Quails’ Gate and Hillside
Estate, and a smattering of
boutiques like Tantalus and Le
Vieux Pin/La Stella, Pease says.
Vineyard owners, consultants
and Summerland Research
and Development Centre
scientists round out the
membership.
This group who
developed SWBC really
wanted to create both a
protable, environmentally
friendly and socially just wine-
growing region, that could
see prosperity today, says
Pease. Ten years ago, here in
BC, as far as I can tell, it was a
pretty small and select group
of people who understood
that line of thinking (planet,
people, prot), but today, of
course, I think much more so.
Sustainability goals
Over the years, the
committee has written
sustainability goals and
developed a self-assessment
tool for both vineyards and
wineries. Vineyard
sustainability goals include
management of the
watershed, soil, irrigation,
integrated pest management
(IPM) and social equity. Winery
goals include water and
energy eciency, waste
management and climate
action as well as social equity.
To date, 68 vineyards and 37
of the province's 280 grape
wineries have completed the
self-assessments.
Pease says it was always
the committee’s aim to
provide a formal audited
certication. Organizations
claim they are sustainable, but
they need to be able to back
it up.
“It is not just being able to
say, ‘I conserve water because
I use drip irrigation, she says.
“It is taking the next step and
saying, What does that mean
in comparison to an industry
best practice of how much
water you should be using?’
Pease and the committee
worked to develop outcomes
with metrics that would back
any claims made.
“I feel we are leading-edge
in launching something
newish in the certication
industry, she says. “Other
certication programs still
don’t collect data; they work
more from a laundry list of
to-dos.
Operations that have
completed the self-
assessments will be able to
apply for an audit, Pease
explains.
What certication means
dierent from just doing self-
assessments, really, is that the
self-assessment has been
veried by a third party, she
says.
SWBC will run courses
Growers, wineries welcome sustainability launch
throughout the winter to help
growers and wineries prepare
for their audits, which will
begin in the 2021 growing
season.
Auditors come from the
local agriculture industry, with
experience in organic
certication or environmental
farm planning.
We will train them to our
standards and they will go out
and do the verication, says
Pease. They will have a pretty
high level of knowledge of
the content of the standards
and they should be a resource
as well.
The auditor will visit the
vineyard or winery and walk
through each of the criteria
within the standard, she
explains.
“Some of the criteria will
require documentation such
as chemical, water or energy
use, while some just require
that the auditor see the
process of how they do
something, like store toxic
chemicals, says Pease.
The auditor makes the
recommendation about how
they do against the SWBC
Third-party
audit essential
for program’s
credibility
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standards and SWBC will
grant certication to those
that measure up.
SWBC is designing a
certication logo for members
to use, and the BC Wine Grape
Council will be developing a
communications program,
adds Pease.
We work on a very slim
budget and we are hoping to
receive some grant funding
which would allow us to give
much more energy to the
communications piece, she
says. “But it will be our
members who really tell the
story.
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12 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Felix Egerer seeds a cover crop mix between grapevine rows at Tantalus Vineyard that will add organic matter to
the soil next year. It’s one of many steps a winery can take toward sustainable certication. PHOTO / TOM WALKER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 13
Sustainability
program delivers
value to industry
Consumers, retailers are asking
for sustainable products
by TOM WALKER
OLIVER – Preparing for an
audit from Sustainable
Winegrowing BC in order to
obtain certication requires a
lot of work.
The vineyard or winery
must rst complete the online
self-assessment materials
from SWBC. It must then
gather the materials
documenting its practices
and plan for the auditor’s visit.
Severine Pinte, winemaker
and viticulturist at Le Vieux
Pin and La Stella wineries in
the south Okanagan, took
part in the SWBC pilot
certication audit last year.
She admits that it was
daunting at rst.
“I am strong on record-
keeping and I have
traceability, but a lot of it is
either on my computer or in
my head, she says. “My goal is
to have it all in one binder.
But Pinte cautions not to
get bogged down in the
process.
We all keep records of
varying detail and as a
producer continues along the
process it will get easier, she
says. “It is helping you to
structure things.
David Paterson, general
manager and winemaker at
Tantalus Vineyards, says the
improvement in processes is
key.
The overall idea of
sustainability is actually smart
business, he says, adding that
the broad scope of the BC
program contributes to
business planning.
A true sustainability
program includes where does
your glass come from, what
do you do with your
wastewater, how do you treat
people, he explains. All of
that is so much more than
saying, We are organic in the
vineyard, there you go.
There are lots of ways a
vineyard or winery can cut
corners to increase protability,
but Paterson says owners
need to take a holistic view.
Two areas where Paterson
thinks Tantalus shines is in its
vineyard – which holds
organic certication – and its
employee practices.
The things that Felix
[Egerer] is doing in the
vineyard with zero-till and
cover crops is outstanding, he
says. “I am really proud of the
overall team.
Tantalus has a number of
long-term employees. Others
who have moved on are still
friends of the winery.
We have not lost anyone
under the guise of ‘I don’t
want to be here anymore, he
says.
Paterson notes that many
former sta have moved up in
the industry.
“My old assistant
winemaker is now a
winemaker and people who
have worked in hospitality
have moved on to higher
positions, he says. That is a
really important and part of
the long-term sustainability of
the whole industry in BC.
But will it pay? The
experience of wine industry
sustainability veterans
indicates a qualied yes.
Market driven
Lisa Francioni is program
director for the California
Sustainable Winegrowing
Alliance and has worked with
the program in California for
15 years. Francioni told the BC
Wine Industry Insight
Conference in March the
market wants sustainably
produced products.
“Consumers, retailers and
wineries are increasingly
demanding sustainable
products, she says.
Trade research by market
analysis rm Wine Intelligence
found that sustainably
produced wine has the
highest future purchase
consideration in the US
market, with 74% open to
buying sustainably produced
wine.
They indicated they would
pay up to $3 more, she says.
Paterson says a price
increase would be a welcome
bonus, but it’s not the main
goal at Tantalus.
“If that becomes a positive
fallout from implementing a
really good program that
means something, then
fantastic, he says. “But we are
doing it because it is the right
thing to do, not necessarily
because we can charge more
money.
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sector account for $4.6 billion
while indirect and induced
impacts add a further $3.9
billion to the
sectors
contributions to
the BC economy.
The sectors net
contribution to
the provinces
gross domestic
product (GDP) is $3.9 billion.
“[The] impact study creates
a signicant opportunity for
the sector to re-brand
ourselves and create a new
vision for agriculture in BC,
one that oers new ideas and
a shift in perspective,
positioning agriculture as
part of the solution during a
time of economic recovery,
BCAC president Stan Vander
Waal said in releasing the
report.
The sector is fundamental
to food and beverage
processing, which is the
largest employer among
Canadas manufacturing
sectors. BC farms supply 38%
of all inputs purchased by the
provinces food processors,
contributing to a further
$11.1 billion worth in value-
added outputs.
The government also
benets from the success of
agriculture. According to
MNP, the provinces farms pay
close to $400 million in taxes
annually, with an additional
$550 million paid by suppliers
and workers.
—Peter Mitham
Farm worker
protection funded
BC farmers will be able to
tap into $4.9 million worth of
federal funding to better
protect workers from
COVID-19.
The funds are BC’s share of
$35 million allocated to the
Emergency On-Farm Support
Fund that Ottawa announced
in July, part of a $58.6 million
investment to safeguard the
health and safety of Canadian
and temporary foreign farm
workers during the COVID-19
pandemic.
Ottawa began announcing
provincial allocations in
October, with the BC
announcement taking place
following the October 24
election.
The Investment Agriculture
Foundation of British
Columbia will administer the
funds, which cover up to half
the cost of worker safety
initiatives, including direct
infrastructure improvements
to living quarters and work
stations, temporary or
emergency housing (on or
o-farm), as well as personal
protective equipment (PPE),
sanitary stations, work
stations and any other health
and safety measures.
A farm owned at least 51%
by women and persons under
the age of 30, as well as
Indigenous, visible minorities
and persons with disabilities
is eligible for a 60%
reimbursement of costs.
The funding will apply to
investments made as early as
March 15 of this year, and run
through February 28, 2021.
The maximum funding
available per farm is $100,000.
Approved funding is
intended to ow within 30
days of applications being
submitted.
IAFBC will accept
applications through
November 17, with priority
given to farms where workers
face the greatest risk. It
expects 640 farms to apply.
—Peter Mitham
Autumn calf
prices down
The early calf gets the
price could be the story for
this years fall cattle run.
While prices were around
$2.15 a pound for a 550 lb.
steer through mid-October,
pricing began to slip in the
latter half of the month.
“I don’t have very good
news right now, Anne Wasko,
marketing analyst with
Gateway Livestock Marketing
Inc. in Taber, AB, told Country
Life in BC in late October.
“Prices have slipped $15 a
hundredweight on a 550 lb
steer calf. That translates to
about $85 coming o the
price of those calves in the
last few days.
Two big factors are
inuencing calf prices right
now, Wasko says: what
feedlots are paying for feed
and the futures market.
Rising exports to China
pushed barley prices in
Lethbridge up 25% in
October, adding a dollar to
the cost of a bushel. The price
of corn has gone up as well,
meaning feedlots face higher
costs feeding calves this
winter. The cost gets passed
to the calf producer in the
form of lower prices.
According to Brian Perillat,
manager and senior analyst
at Canfax in Calgary, every
50-cent increase in per-
bushel costs peels 10 cents a
pound o the price of calves.
The live cattle futures
market in Chicago has also
taken a downturn, with the
December live cattle contract
dropping $8.00 in the week
ended October 21.
Nevertheless, some really
good fundamentals underpin
the market.
Processing plants are
going full out, domestic
demand for beef is strong
after demand shifted from
restaurants to retail. Trade
data shows Canada had its
best month ever for beef
exports in August.
What I have learned over
the years is to look beyond
the bad news of a particular
week, Wasko says. We might
nd that in six weeks things
have changed.
Tom Walker
BC agriculture had an
economic impact on the
province of nearly $8.5 billion
in 2019, according to a new
study MNP prepared for the
BC Agriculture Council and
Investment Agriculture
Foundation of BC.
The gure represents the
total output of the crop and
livestock sectors, as well as
indirect impacts from
spending on supplies and
induced impacts from salaries
and benets to the 55,000
workers who owe their jobs
to agriculture.
According to the report,
direct outputs from the
Ag sector claims an $8.5 billion economic impact
Ag Briefs
EDITED BY PETER MITHAM
MNP report highlights farming’s importance to the province’s economic well-being
Grant programs encourage Indigenous ag projects
Wide range of projects supported, including foraging, processing and food hubs
Since its launch in 2018, the BC Indigenous Agriculture Development Program has provided support for 25 projects
to help First Nations governments and community members develop projects in the food and agriculture sector.
PHOTO / ROSALIN MILES
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 15
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VICTORIA – Provincial
funding is supporting
Indigenous food security and
innovation.
Twenty-ve projects
supporting Indigenous
agriculture and food
enterprises and food
production activities have
been completed with funding
from the BC Indigenous
Agriculture Development
Program since its launch in
2018 by the BC Ministry of
Agriculture.
The programs goal is “to
support Indigenous
governments, communities,
organizations and
entrepreneurs to achieve their
self-identied priorities, goals
and vision of success in the
food and agriculture sector.
A wide variety of projects
funded by the BCIADP have
economic development goals
as well as goals related to
supporting food security and
Indigenous food systems.
This year, the program
began oering two streams of
support: one for Indigenous
entrepreneurs and the other
for Indigenous governments,
communities and
organizations.
Eight projects have
received approval through the
entrepreneur funding stream
while 17 projects are moving
forward through the second
funding stream.
Forest Foods Ltd. in
Vancouver received almost
$15,000 in 2019 to develop
designs for facilities that will
process and package wild
foods. Backed with three years
of research, Forest Foods is
working on a mobile cleaning
and packaging unit for wild
mushrooms and plant-based
forest foods. Its also working
on a stationary processing
facility to support the
commercialization of a variety
of products.
Forest Foods CEO Shelby
Leslie says the concept is to
support the diversication of
Indigenous foods and food
businesses within the non-
timber forest products
industry. Its hoping to do so
by improving food safety
practices and protocols
among foraged foods.
While the amount of wild
foods produced from BC are
on the increase, the values of
those foods are on the
decrease and we
hypothesized that that is
because of poor eld handling
techniques that are quite
pervasive within the industry,
he explains.
Since harvesting activities
fall under the jurisdiction of
Forests, Lands, Natural
Resource Operations and
Rural Development, which
focuses on growing and
harvesting trees, it falls
outside the provinces
agriculture ministry, which
oversees food safety at the
eld level.
Leslie says wild food is
currently harvested by
contractors, graded in the
eld and shipped to the
Lower Mainland for
processing. There is little or no
quality control in the eld and
all value-added aspects occur
outside the communities
where the food is harvested.
We want to turn that on its
head and support various
organizations and companies
to do that in the eld. The
more you can do that in the
eld, the more jobs there are
in the eld and the more
quality control you’re able to
exert, Leslie says. The more
we can create those
opportunities for people there
rather than just nding a
bunch of cheap labour in the
Lower Mainland and putting
them to work in a factory, I
think the more peoples minds
will be opened to the real
treasure we have here in our
forests.
Leslie intends to share his
designs with Indigenous
communities to determine
where such facilities could aid
in the expansion of their
business operations.
Unfortunately, provincial
funding priorities shifted
when the COVID-19 pandemic
hit this spring and Leslies
application for funds to
support a community
engagement process on
potential locations for the
facilities has not moved
forward.
We’ve yet to recongure
and re-approach the Ministry
of Agriculture but we are
working with a couple of
dierent First Nations on
adapting the facility, designs
and concepts that we put
forward and aligning those
with some concepts and
initiatives that are underway
within their nations, he notes.
Leslie recently provided
technical and logistical
support to Lytton First Nation
in the purchase equipment for
its planned community food
hub.
See FOOD on next page
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FOOD hub will allow Indigenous farmers to create value nfrom page 15
16 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Lytton First Nation advisor and community
member Rosalin Miles has been working on the
food hub for almost four years.
The band received $1.2 million for the project
from a variety of sources including BCIADP, Rural
Dividends Fund and Northern Development
Initiative Trust. They are developing a business
plan, purchasing equipment, creating a traditional
food policy and getting CanadaGAP certication
for band members who farm. They hired a full-
time coordinator and are now advertising for two
part-time sta to help the food hub begin
operations.
Lytton First Nation consists of 56 reserves
where agriculture was once an important aspect
of their communities, but residential school and
its aftermath left its elders scarred while many
young people left for bigger centres.
“People weren’t working the land anymore. A
lot of places became smaller, the areas they
maintained and the gardens got smaller, says
Miles. “Historically, we were the rst community
that wholesaled apples. There’s about 18 orchards
in Lytton.
People are now returning to their community,
the orchards are being tended and many
community members grow their own food.
Miles hopes to have four or ve farmers
CanadaGAP-certied by next year to aid with an
apple harvest she expects to be between 35,000
and 50,000 pounds.
“Right now, we’ve identied what foods we
have, what is being harvested and then next year
we’ll be going into treating food for market, she
adds.
A traditional foods policy will ensure sustainable harvests while an in-ground
root cellar will reduce dependency on electric-powered fridges and freezers.
Other crops being considered for future years include saskatoon berries,
mushrooms, wild asparagus, celery and potatoes.
We have lots of land and people are very keen to get this going. I think we
have a very good foundation, Miles adds. “Once we get going and as long as
were responsible and continue to engage the community, I think we’re o to a
good start.
Blueberry River First Nations is moving into the
second phase of a project to create a native seed
production and propagation business with
BCIADP funds. The endeavour will support
employment, economic development and
restoration of traditional lands degraded by
forestry, oil and gas exploration and other
industrial activities.
“I am very interested in whats called reciprocal
restoration where ecological r
estoration of the
land base can restore a cultural use of the
landscape as well, says Mae Whyte, restoration
project ocer with Blueberry River First Nations.
The idea of using native seeds is being touted in
restoration ecology as being the next big thing.
Consultant Mike Keefer of Keefer Ecological
Services Ltd. in Cranbrook is aiding with the
project.
He says using native plants and seeds is unlike
traditional restoration methods.
“By doing this kind of work, we’re eectively
trying to reverse the trend of habitat
fragmentation, the loss of native species and it’s
dierent, he notes. “Historically, the best practice
was to introduce plant seeds like alfalfa, timothy
grass, orchard grass. Those grasses are great
grasses, and alfalfa is a great legume if you’re
trying to feed cattle on your farm, but arguably
those plants don’t belong in nature.
Keefer expects the native plants to respond
well enough that a viable native seed business
can be up and running within two years if
community members agree to move on to the
next phase.
The BC Ministry of Agriculture has seen high interest in BCIADP funding since
its launch and client feedback is positive.
The ministry also says that some projects have experienced delays due to the
pandemic, particularly those related to community engagement.
Program sta have been working with applicants and consultants on nding
workable solutions to these situations such as extended deadlines and adapted
community engagement activities.
The BC Indigenous Agriculture Development Fund is helping First
Nations communities nd new opportunities in agriculture.
PHOTO /
ROSALIN MILES
HIGH TIME TO COME HOME. Alisha Grant helps bring cattle off summer range above Logan Lake during the
season’s rst dusting snow in mid-October. PHOTO / TRUDY SCHWEB
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 17
Range issues dominate NOLA meeting
Crown tenure users urged to keep an eye on forestry operational plans
email: audreycifca@gmail.com
email: okanaganfeeders@gmail.com
308 St. Laurent Avenue Quesnel, B.C. V2J 5A3
Producers can apply for an advance on calves, yearlings, lambs, bison, forage and grain up to $1,000,000.00 with
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by TOM WALKER
VERNON – The North
Okanagan Livestock
Association had a full evening
of reports and speakers at its
virtual annual general
meeting on September 23.
NOLA president Lani
French welcomed nine guest
speakers and noted that she’s
seen an increasing number of
young cattle producers
stepping up and becoming
voices in the organization
during her last six years of
association membership.
However, Zoom meetings
do not suit all producers.
There is no social interaction
and rural ranches can be
plagued by poor Internet
connections. Indeed, there
were only 10 NOLA members
on the meeting compared to
past AGMs that have attracted
from 40 to more than 60
attendees.
Werner Stump gave an
update on his work with the
BC Cattlemens Association
(BCCA) environmental
stewardship committee.
Stump reminded members
that if they have an issue with
Crown land in their area to be
sure and contact the
committee to add their views
to others who have similar
concerns.
We are the committee that
is responsible for Crown land
issues and we always want to
be sending a consistent
message from our members
to government, he says.
Stump said the committee
remains concerned with the
enactment of the new Forest
Range Practices Act (FRPA)
2019, which does not yet have
regulations written giving it
force and eect.
We continue to keep the
heat on to government to
recognize the values of range
and the management of
Crown lands for forage
development in the
regulations, notes Stump.
One of the things the
committee worked on that
seemed to gain some traction
was the Agricultural Land
Reserve on Crown land, says
Stump.
The ALR includes about 4.9
million acres of Crown land,
he says, and historically it
hasn’t required any special
management.
This is weird because on
private ALR land there are
restrictions, as you know,
Stump points out. We have
engaged with the Agriculture
Land Commission directly
several times and met with
numerous ministers. I am
pleased to say we are getting
some progress on our issues.
The government’s FRPA
review team is meeting with
the ALC and trying to develop
some standard protocol for
Crown ALR land.
We hope to see that
appear in the new
regulations, says Stump.
He says that one of the
positive outcomes from the
FRPA rewrite is that forest
companies will be required to
develop two-year operational
plans that are to be discussed
and reviewed with range
tenure holders and other
interest groups.
That is not fully enacted
across the province as there
are no regulations to enforce
it yet, Stump explains. “But
you may see some of the
forest companies starting to
employ that practice, knowing
that it is coming down the
pipeline.
Ranchers are encouraged
to watch out for these plans.
As they are posted you
should view them to
understand how they may
impact your range and the
movement of cattle and take
the opportunity to comment,
says Stump.
The BC Ministry of Forests,
Lands, Natural Resource
Operations and Rural
Development is running three
pilot programs that look to
change management of
Crown land range tenures to a
more regional model and
involve local input.
The government is taking
more of a consideration of
range values, Stump says.
They are looking to model
forage supply on range similar
to how they model timber
supply for forest companies. If
that can be done successfully
in the pilots, there is a good
chance it could be adopted
across the province.
The environmental
stewardship committee has
also met with the chair of the
Forest Practices Board, the
watchdog of what happens
on Crown land, Stump explains.
They primarily look at
forestry stu, but we wanted
to raise the prole of range in
their investigations, including
the obligations of forest
tenure holders for building
fences and maintaining cattle
guards, Stump says. We also
See RANGE on next page
o
RANGE use nfrom page 17
18 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
told the Forest Practices Board
that we are fully supportive of
their view that FLNRORD
district mangers should have
more authority.
He says the BC Cattlemens
Associations view is that
district mangers should be
able to consider what is
happening on the land and be
able to make a determination
that all stakeholders are not
being fairly treated and
override a cutting permit
application.
That is something that the
district managers are not
currently able to do,
surprisingly enough, says
Stump.
Trespass legislation
BCCAs livestock protection
and research committees have
merged and NOLA
representative Nick Bapty
reviewed four issues they have
been working on.
We have been working
with the government to beef
up the Trespass Act in BC
similar to what they have
done in Alberta, he notes.
And we have had input into
the CFIAs work to update feed
regulations.
Bapty says the committee
has also been studying the
possibility of setting up a
voluntary bonding program in
the case that a buyer could
not come up with money to
complete a cattle sale through
a stockyard, similar to an
assurance program.
We also asked the [BC]
Ministry of Transport to
consider easing the
restrictions for agricultural
vehicles on public roads, but
that was shot down, he notes.
BCCA assistant general
manager Elaine Stovin gave
an update on Cattlemens
views on the livestock
watering intentions paper.
While the association has
several concerns with the
document, she notes that it’s
positive that the province is
not looking to prohibit cattle’s
direct access to water.
“It is a win that they are not
requiring all streams to be
fenced, something that is not
reasonable nor achievable,
she says.
NOLA members also
received an update on BC
Beef Producers Inc., the
company that will process and
market the new “Genuine BC
Beef brand from the KML
plant in Falkland.
Bree Patterson, beef
production specialist with BC
Cattlemens, gave an update
and promotion for the Veried
Beef Plus program VBP+. She
noted that VBP+ will be a
requirement for all cattle in
the Genuine BC Beef program,
as will proAction for dairy
animals.
North Okanagan Livestock Association members were briefed on the BC Cattlemens
Associations response to the provinces livestock watering intentions paper, released
earlier this summer.
This is an issue that the water committee has been working on very hard for over 10
years, BCCA assistant general manager Elaine Stovin said, giving much credit to committee
chair Linda Allison. We are pleased that the intentions paper allows us direct access to
water for our animals. We also recognize that nally having written regulations will give us
security for our existing use.
But there is much in the intentions paper that BCCA does not support.
First o, it is not in favour of licensing of livestock watering across BC.
We think that mandatory licensing should only be required on a risk basis, similar to the
approach currently taken with waste regulations, says Stovin. “Not all areas of the province
have the same issues with water.
Outside of a high-risk area, they would like to see a voluntary licensing system, says
Stovin. A universal licensing requirement puts an additional burden on producers as well
as an additional burden on the government, which does not have a good track record with
water licences.
The government is already far behind in issuing g
roundwater licences, she notes.
Voluntary licensing would limit the burden on both producers and provincial sta.
Regardless of whether a livestock watering licence is issued, Stovin says ranchers have
been focused on getting traditional livestock watering uses recognized and having a rst
in time, rst in right (FITFIR) date assigned to that use.
Ranchers also need conrmation that all dugouts for livestock purposes will be exempt
from licensing, Stovin says, something not currently in the regulations.
“Our dugouts are lled by spring snow melt and surface run o, she notes. They are not
lled by vested provincial water and therefore should not be regulated.
There also needs to be an assurance that livestock watering during times of drought be
protected, particularly in areas with sh protection orders.
Animals consume just a fraction of the water that irrigation uses and their welfare
needs to be protected in times of drought, Stovin says.
Cattlemen further propose that the water licensing be included in range tenure
applications as the two are so closely linked.
Water availability needs to be considered together with forage in the calculations for
[Animal Unit Months], Stovin says. And if they are both included in the tenure application
the one document serves two purposes.
Tom Walker
BC Cattlemen critique water intentions
BC Beef plant in
Falkland ready to
process this month
Processing could begin
November 15
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 19
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FALKLAND – NOLA AGM
attendees heard an update on
BC Beef Producers Inc., the
company that will process
and market “Genuine BC Beef
at the KML packing plant in
Falkland.
Mary MacGregor, legal
advisor to the industry
steering committee formed
by the BC Cattlemens
Association and BC
Association of Cattle Feeders,
introduced Mark Ishoy, the
company’s chief operating
ocer.
MacGregor explained the
share structure for the new
company that will entitle a
producer to purchase one
voting share for a nominal fee
and as many hook shares at
$175 each as they choose.
A hook share entitles and
requires the owner to deliver
one animal a year per hook
share.
“If the producer does not
ship cattle according to the
number of hook shares, the
shares may be subject to
forfeiture, explains
MacGregor.
She stressed the need for a
consistent year-round supply
of animals that are of top
quality.
“If you ship an ugly cow to
the plant, you will get an ugly
price, she cautioned.
Producers who want to
participate must be a BC
resident, they have to be
raising BC-born and raised
cattle, and they have to
participate in the VBP+
program.
VBP+ is important for the
branding, says MacGregor.
This is being marketed as a
sustainably produced
product.
She said the shares are not
expected to rise in value and
cannot be traded, but they
are expected to return a prot
to producers who ship
animals to the plant.
The number of
shareholders would initially
be limited to 50, but the
company has applied for an
exemption that would allow it
to have a broader ownership
group beyond industry
members.
MacGregor acknowledged
both the opportunity to
develop and market a BC-
branded beef product and
the uncertainty of starting up
a new plant. She says leasing
the KML plant provides an
alternative to building a new
plant.
The initiative will also
receive funding under the
Stronger BC for Everyone: BC’s
Economic Recovery Plan,
though the amount wasn’t
disclosed. The funding isn’t
scheduled to begin owing
until the new year.
That should ease some of
the pain of making sure we
have enough producers to
start, MacGregor says.
‘Producers will want to join
once they see it rolling.
The company will initially
purchase and process cull
cows into hamburger, but
that may eventually develop
into working with fed animals,
MacGregor says.
There should easily be
enough BC animals to supply
the plant, MacGregor notes.
We raise about 200,000
cows a year in BC, she says.
“Even if the plant only took
10%, that would be 20,000
animals and the plant only
has a capacity of 13,000
animals a year.
Mark Ishoy jokes that you
can tell he has been in the
meat business more than 25
years by the grey colour in his
hair. He worked at Lakeside
Packers (now JBS Canada) in
Brooks, Alberta in the 1980s
as it grew from 500 animals a
day to 1,000 a day. He ran his
own meat plant and was a
partner with a group in a cow
plant in Ontario for 14 years.
He has consulted to the
Atlantic Beef Plant in PEI and
in the last 12 years was the
president of Eastern Meat
Solutions in Ontario.
“I have seen a lot of areas
of the meat business and
personally started up three
plants, says Ishoy. “I am a
planner, but meat plants are
never opened without
challenges along the way.
KML, a federally inspected
plant, is an advantage for the
new BC venture.
“It gives us an instant
ability to sell to most places in
the country, he says. That
includes beyond provincial
borders and into export
markets.
Ishoy says the KML plant is
in pretty good shape. It has
room to process 50 cattle a
day and the ability to ship
that product the following
day.
We are looking to
introduce rail boning and
some other unique practices
that will be more ecient, he
says.
Hes also looking ahead to
value added products.
We are building a team
and if we make this initial
phase a success, it will give us
an opportunity to grow, he
says.
Processing is expected to
begin by November 15.
Ishoy responded to a
question from Werner Stump
of Crystal Lake Ranch in
Malakwa on the availability of
labour.
We recognize labour could
be an issue, and we are
looking into the foreign
worker program, says Ishoy.
“But we do have ve skilled
workers in the plant right now
and we are starting out slow,
so there is the opportunity to
train new workers from
packer through to butcher.
Producers who are
interested in BC Beef
Producers Inc. and the
Genuine BC Beef program
should contact Jennifer
Leeuw, administrative
assistant at the BC
Cattlemens Association,
about enrolling in the
program.
The plant’s steering
committee has prepared an
extensive “Frequently Asked
Questions” document that is
available from Holly Jackson,
communications manager
with the association.
Snow on the hills above Chilco Ranch is a sure sign winter is on its way. PHOTO / SARAH ZUBERBÜHLER
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ABBOTSFORD – In a year
where corn eld days were
cancelled and socialization
put on the back burner, trial
information remains available
to help farmers select forage
corn varieties.
Two companies, Integrated
Crop Management Services
and Pacic Forage Bag Supply,
conducted trials in a number
of regions.
Alexis Arthur of Pacic
Forage set up trials in
Abbotsford, Enderby, Delta
and Chemainus. Grant
McMillan, regional manager
with ICMS, set up the
company’s second year of
corn trials in Abbotsford and
Okanagan Falls. A number of
seed company varieties were
tested.
We have a new line called
Horizon Seeds and that line
actually was very successful
for being brand new to us and
not having been this far in the
west, says Arthur. “It was a
very successful silage option.
She says Horizon 675 and
Horizon 1912 did very well
this season. Thats not
surprising given they are mid-
heat unit varieties.
“Based on the season, mid-
heat unit products did well
overall, she says. You weren’t
scared of them not drying
down.
Extra moisture created
taller plants with lots of leaves
in Arthurs trial elds, though
smaller cobs were often the
case.
“But in the mid heat unit
range there was even a little
more success in cob
development and nish, she
says.
McMillan’s program is a
pay-per-entry arrangement
where anyone from a farmer
to a seed company can pay
for a trial line. He had a total
of 13 entries from Fraser
Seeds, TerraLink, Pioneer
(from Corteva), Ceres Global
Seeds (formerly Legend
Seeds) and DFL Pickseed in
Abbotsford. Seven of these
varieties were trialed in
Okanagan Falls.
“Farmers want to see the
data generated in their back
40, he says. They want to see
the local data.
The biggest issue he saw
during the season was weed
pressure and a slightly
delayed growing season.
Arthur experienced rootworm
in the Fraser Valley trial, but it
didn’t impact the stalks as
much as it has in past seasons.
“Early planting really
mattered this year. Fields
overall were quite erratic
when it came to dry down.
You could have the front of
your eld looking ready to go
and the back end completely
wet, she says. “It made
harvest a challenge.
The Enderby trial dried out
a bit, she says, but the other
three locations are providing
good feedback. The two
Horizon varieties did well in
all four locations, as did
Thunder Seed’s 41267, 6875
and 4578.
“But a new one called 6977
was just exceptional, she says.
A little earlier, exceptional on
ll and nish and grain
development.
Pride Seeds 1017 and 1047
both did well, but as higher
heat unit products they had
challenges in elds because
warm weather was lacking. A
mid-heat option from Pride
that’s looking positive so far is
1027.
There were a number of
new hybrids to look at, we
have good data from a tough
season based on these
hybrids, she says. And some
of them worked. They did well
in dierent places and that’s a
success.
McMillan’s Abbotsford
harvest data wasn’t available
at press time, but in the
Okanagan Falls trials,
Pioneer’s 8407Q had the
highest cumulative volume of
the company’s three varieties.
Ceres Global Seeds had
higher volumes from HZ 2536
and HZ 797 than the other
two varieties.
Both Arthur and McMillan
will have videos and data
available to outline the results
of the trials.
Were excited with the
new products that succeeded
in this trial, Arthur says. Were
going to create a Pacic
Forage YouTube channel and
we’ll set that up and
obviously link that to the
website. The trial results, as
always, will be listed on the
website. They’re always there
along with the ones from the
past.
McMillan plans to have
results posted through social
media channels as well,
including Twitter and
Linkedin.
“For companies that are
already established, it allows
them to test the lines that are
coming into the area, he says
of the trials. “It also lets them
consider if they want to bring
a line into the area or not.
Corn trial results
help make better
planting decisions
Mid heat unit varieties are
forage crop darlings
Two varieties of sweet corn from Stokes
Seeds were trialed in Abbotsford by Grant
McMillan, regional manager with ICMS.
Growers looking for new varieties for
farmers’ markets and fresh sales may be on
the lookout for the next great-performing
variety and McMillan says eld trials can
deliver local results for better planning.
One of the two varieties, Sweet Sunrise,
had a signicant volume of aphids. Rather
than dismissing the variety, McMillan
advises considering its benets rst. If its a
t, establish a plan for managing the bugs.
When growers are looking at planting
this line, they should look at an aphid
control program, he says.
Sprinter XR had more cobs per hectare
than Sweet Surprise, but Sweet Surprise had
the higher marketable tons per hectare.
Sprinter XR required fewer days to reach
harvest. McMillan will include sweet corn in
the trial results posted on social media
channels.
—Ronda Payne
Sweet results
Andrew Penner has taken over his parents’ layer operation, investing in a new aviary setup that’s the largest of its kind in the world. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 21
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ABBOTSFORD – Many
young farmers face necessary
upgrades to facilities when
they take on the family
business. Sometimes,
maintaining the status quo
isn’t always an option.
Andrew and Stephanie
Penner went big when they
took over their layer operation
from Andrew’s parents two
years ago. The barns were
already at capacity and they
knew the timing was right to
build for the future, not just
for now.
Nest Egg Poultry is now the
largest aviary facility of its kind
in the world according to Tyler
de Boer with AgPro West
Supply. The multi-million
dollar operation is outtted
with a Big Dutchman Natura
Step XL Aviary system, which
de Boer describes as the big
brother of other aviary
systems.
The main [dierence] is its
width, he says. “It allows for
more birds while complying
[with] any regulations.
As a third-generation egg
farmer, 34-year-old Andrew
Penner watched his family
farm grow to slightly more
than 20,000 birds, all of them
in conventional cage housing.
We knew we had to move
out of cage systems. It was the
time to decide, he says. “I
decided I wanted to be in
specialty, so went with the
aviary, free run.
Building new also allowed
him to build for expansion.
The new facility, developed
over the course of a year,
eectively doubles the farms
capacity to 40,000 birds. Its
laid out as two barn units
under a single roof. Each barn
has a capacity of 20,000 birds.
Penner plans to sit at 11,000
per barn (22,000 total) for a
while by adding quota credits
to his current quota level that
allows for slightly more than
20,000 birds. He may consider
expanding to as many as
35,000 in the future.
While currently built for
free-run production, with a
few minor modications, the
new barns will accommodate
free range or organic. Free
range would require
installation of a fence and
windows would need to be
installed in pre-framed spaces
to qualify for organic
certication. (A change to
feed is also required.)
The barns are designed for
maximum bird comfort.
Computer controls and
sensors monitor and allow the
Penners to control
temperature, carbon dioxide
and ammonia in addition to
the custom ventilation system.
Andrew is being
progressive in wanting the
best quality of life for the
birds, says de Boer.
In conventional barns,
manure piles up but the aviary
systems conveyors ensure
manure is removed.
“Barns used to live for a
cycle and now were moving
the manure regularly, says de
Boer. “Its better for the birds.
Specialty production
Penner isn’t the only one
seeing the benets of
specialty egg production. BC
Egg reports that more than
44% of BC eggs are a specialty
product, with 14.5% produced
in enriched environments,
8.6% free run, 9.2% free range
and 11.9% organic.
Scott Janzen, who ships to
Island Gold, also has layers in
the Fraser Valley.
We have farmed with an
aviary system – both free
range and free run. The
Penners came to see ours and
to decide which way to go. I
call it a jungle gym for
chickens, he says of the aviary
system. You have to farm it a
bit dierently. You have to see
them, smell what theyre
smelling, hear what they’re
saying.
He feels that more Grade A
eggs come out of a system
like the Penners, helping meet
rising demand for cage-free
production. The Penners ship
New barn promises better egg production
Multimillion-
dollar facility
puts emphasis
on comfort,
automation
their eggs to Island Gold,
which distributes them across
Vancouver Island and the
Lower Mainland.
The Penners rst batch of
birds, Novogen pullets, came
to the barns at 15 to 18 weeks
old and have been specically
reared to an aviary system
environment by Abbotsford-
based Pacic Pride Chicks.
Attached to the barn is the
automated Damtech egg
packer which de Boer says has
the smallest footprint of
anything on the market. It
moves eggs from the barns’
conveyors into ats. Flats stack
up at the end of the packing
line where theyre transferred
to a cooler to await pickup.
Having strong family
relationships is “huge” to
making such a large
undertaking work, says
Penner. He says the family
talks a lot about the operation.
While it’s his now, he also
values the wisdom and
experience his parents bring.
22 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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2020
2020
ALR co-founder, defender embraces retirement
Harold Steves remains as passionate as ever about protecting farmland
An iconic champion of BC agriculture, Harold Steves shows off a massive head of cauliower grown at the family
farm in Richmond. The Steves family has deep roots in Richmond, producing its rst seed catalogue in 1888.
Steves still grows market vegetables with origins dating back into the 1890s. PHOTO / SUBMITTED
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 23
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by ANITA DESAI
RICHMOND – Long-term
Richmond city councilor and
agricultural activist Harold
Steves will begin to pass on
the torch in politics this fall in
order to focus more on his
long-standing projects.
Though he had been
considering retirement for
some time, Steves – now 83 –
says he was waiting for just
the right person to ll his seat.
A decade ago, I told a
young biologist and science
teacher, Michael Wolfe, that I
couldn’t retire until he was
elected to Richmond council.
He was elected in October
2018 and I said I was going to
retire then but no one
believed me. So recently, I
announced it again.
Given that the next civic
election is still two years away,
Steves isn’t planning to slow
down just yet. He says he’s
busier than hes ever been,
wrapping up projects he
launched years ago as well as
some new initiatives.
These include nalizing
plans for a farm school on the
Garden City lands, where
Kwantlen Polytechnic
University has its research
farm.
“KPU planted their rst
crops on the Garden City
lands in 2018 and Richmond
council will be making nal
adjustments to the plan this
fall. Thats one of the major
projects I will be working on,
he says.
Conservation projects on
the Fraser River are also
commanding his attention.
“I’m working on plans to
open up a slough to the river
for salmon fry and eventually
spawning salmon. That was
approved and almost
completed over 20 years ago,
he says. “I’m also ghting the
impacts of a Massey bridge
that would open up Delta
farmland to industrial and
residential development like
the Oak Street bridge did to
Richmond when it was built in
1957.
Bridge to political life
The bridge to Richmond
was also Steves bridge to a
lifetime in politics. Two years
after it was built, Richmond
rezoned 12,000 acres for
residential development. The
move meant his family’s dairy
couldn’t expand.
“My father informed us we
were being forced out of
business, he recalls. “[The city]
would not give us a building
permit for a new dairy. A big
meeting was held with about
175 farmers objecting to the
change but no one knew
what to do.
Steves and a friend began
talking to other young
farmers in the Lower
Mainland. A blacksmith in
Whalley suggested a farm
land bank zone similar to one
he knew about in
Saskatchewan.
We couldn’t get support
for the idea so my friend
suggested I should join the
‘farmers party, the CCF, says
Steves, who joined the partys
provincial wing. The party
became the NDP, and the idea
for the land bank became the
Agricultural Land Reserve
following the NDP’s election
victory in 1972.
“I was elected and assisted
in drafting the legislation,
says Steves.
Reecting back on his
proudest achievements as an
agricultural crusader, he says
creation of the ALR is near the
top of the list.
“It was more than just
saving farmland. It included a
land bank where young
people were able to acquire
farmland to go farming and a
Farm Income Assurance
program that guaranteed
farmers a decent income
during bad times, he says. We
were able to provide 10,000
acres to young farmers in the
rst four years and we saved
many BC blueberry farmers
facing bankruptcy, but
subsequent governments
discontinued both the land
bank and income program.
However, his work as a
councilor in Richmond, where
hes served since 1977
(making him the province’s
longest-serving elected
ocial), is also a source of
pride. Hes particularly keen
on plans for the Garden City
lands.
The issue I will be
proudest of will be when we
complete the plans for Garden
City lands this fall combining
both food security and
farmland preservation as we
envisioned in 1973, he says.
Founding family
The Steves family is one of
Richmond’s rst founding
families, its name being
incorporated in that of
Steveston. The family holds a
fascinating collection of seeds
that traces its roots to the late
1880s.
“Our family established the
rst seed company in Western
Canada in 1888 with a seed
house by the Steves wharf on
the Fraser River, he explains.
“Produce was shipped by
paddlewheel steamboat to
New Westminster market. An
1888 seed catalogue was sent
out and seeds were sold by
mail.
The vegetables in the
Steves catalogue were
varieties adapted to a
northern climate. They would
become the standard garden
varieties grown in BC for the
next 80 years. However, many
other companies would sell
vegetable seed so they
switched to producing ower
seeds and bulbs.
We grow ve varieties of
tomatoes from the 1890
catalogue: Alpha, Acme, Early
Large Red, Trophy and
Livingstons Beauty, plus
Steves Golden Pacic – a new
variety we developed
ourselves, says Steves.
Alpha is the earliest of all
tomatoes and Early Large Red
was once grown throughout
the Thompson River region
before imported tomatoes
from California put local
farmers out of business.
Steves also grows
Walcheren (overwintering)
cauliower, and two varieties
of kale originally from
Scotland. Theres also
Bangholm Purple Top Swede,
a turnip originally from
Norway, and Early Red
Valentine Beans that used to
be in every garden. All told, he
grows close to 60 heirloom
vegetable varieties.
Since 1976, the family has
also ranched near Cache
Creek, an operation now
overseen by Steves’ son.
See PRESERVING on next page
o
PRESERVING farmland more important than ever nfrom page 23
24 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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An ever-changing climate
coupled with the COVID-19
pandemic means that
growing, buying and
supporting local is now as
crucial as ever, says Steves. But
if COVID-19 has prompted
immediate reactions from
governments, the climate has
been a slow burn. Steves
notes that meteorologist
Sverre Pettersen, then the
world’s top climatologist,
warned in 1957 of
“remarkable changes” in
global weather.
“In the course I taught [at
UBC] in the spring of 1960, we
didn’t know how world-wide
climate change would aect
us, he says. We learned about
food rationing and growing
Victory Gardens in World War
II but we fed ourselves. As we
became more dependent on
imports, it became more
important to preserve our
farmland. From producing
almost all of our food during
WWII we were only producing
86% by 1973 and less than
40% today.
This has happened at the
same time as recurring
drought in the US southwest
and California threatens North
Americas food supply.
“In 2015, 500,000 acres was
too dry to plant and 93% of state reservoirs were dry, he says. “Drought was
replaced with short-term rains in some areas, it has led to wildres in much of
California, and the drought has moved up into Oregon.
This year, California saw its worst wildre season ever, with more than
4 million acres burned. Many
of the res were in prime
growing regions.
We get 84% of our
cauliower and broccoli, 76%
of our strawberries, 69% of
our root crops, carrots, and
turnips and 68% of our lettuce
from California, says Steves.
“In the 1940s, we grew all of
our basic foods here – even
had excess for canning.
During the 2006 World
Urban Forum in Vancouver,
the Food & Agriculture
Organization warned that
even if enough food is
produced, putting it in the
hands of city-dwellers can be
a problem. The same year, the
BC Ministry of Agriculture
produced a report that
identied the need for an
additional 227,300 acres of
irrigated farmland if the
province hoped to be able to
feed itself by 2050.
Making that goal possible is
one of the reasons Steves
continues to work so hard to
defend access to farmland
and protect the Fraser River,
the lifeblood of irrigated
agriculture in the Lower
Mainland.
Perhaps one of the biggest
takeaways of Steves long-
standing ght to preserve
farmland is how it can directly impact British Columbians today. In a world
where rhetorical events have now become our reality, it is fundamental that
consumers begin to acknowledge where their food is being sourced, and to
support local growers whenever possible.
Ever the champion for preserving BC’s farmland, Harold Steves shows few signs of slowing down even after
announcing his retirement from local politics. PHOTO / SUBMITTED
The BC Eco Seed Co-op saw a massive increase in demand this year as the COVID-19 pandemic focused attention
on food (and owers). The interest in sourcing locally produced seed is prompting more farmers to take a serious
look at seed production. PHOTO / HUMMINGBIRD FARM
Seed suppliers seeing
sustained demand as
2021 orders begin
Sector expanding as farmers and
gardeners plan ahead
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 25
Serving and Supporting the
Community Together
PROVINCIALLY INSPECTED ABATTOIR B.C. #34
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604.465.4752
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FAX 604.465.4744
ashiq@meadowvalleymeats.com
by RONDA PAYNE
LANGLEY – Onset of the
COVID-19 pandemic saw seed
orders by home gardeners
surge, so much so that some
seed companies delayed
shipments until orders from
commercial growers were
lled.
Between April 1 to August 31,
the BC Eco Seed Co-op saw an
847% increase in sales over
the same period in 2019.
About 350 bulk seed items
were purchased and many
farmers who ordered bulk
seed also ordered packets.
The co-op undertook a
$15,000 crowdfunding
campaign this fall to support
conversion of a trailer that will
provide additional space for
its work, which supports seed
production for both
gardeners and farmers. To
join, co-op members must be
able to supply seed in
commercial quantities, not
just packets for home
gardeners.
“BC farmers are the largest
consumers of organic seeds in
Canada, says Keeley Nixon,
the co-op’s coordinator. They
spend almost $10 million a
year to obtain the precious
seeds. But the supply of local
organic seeds is not keeping
up.
Lana Braun, co-owner of
Hummingbird Farm in Nelson,
grows cut owers and nding
organic seed is a challenge.
She plans to join the seed
co-op in order to make things
a little easier.
“Its a pretty niche market,
she says of organic cut
owers. “Because of this, it’s
epically hard to nd certied
organic cut ower seeds.
She started saving her own
seed out of necessity and
after ve years of doing so,
met David Catzel of Glorious
Organics in Langley, a co-op
member and seed program
coordinator with
FarmFolk/CityFolk in
Vancouver.
“He was super encouraging
and I felt like we could
provide an interesting
dimension in the ower
perspective, says Braun. “I
knew there was a market for
this.
Co-op advantage
By joining forces with the
co-ops 18 other members,
she’ll supply seed to the
co-op which then takes on the
marketing, sales, packaging,
shipping and more.
The co-op will enable
Braun to supply seed without
having to build the marketing,
packaging and distribution
infrastructure herself.
They have done so much
as a group to create the
context to enable a new
grower to come in, she says.
“Basically, I just give them the
seed and they do everything
else. If I had to do this on my
own, theres no way.
She values her ability to
support eld-to-vase owers
and feels the slow, local
ower movement began
shortly after the similar food
movement, about ve to 10
years ago. Her estimate is that
there are about 50 specialty
cut ower growers around the
province trying to source
organic seeds. Selling seed
also creates another revenue
stream.
Any farmer, by their nature,
is looking for more avenues to
market their products. It was a
product that I was already
creating just for myself on a
small scale, she says. “Because
it’s a co-op its really a limited
risk to test it and try it.
Catzel says that any seed
company he has contacted
has seen sales at least 300%
above normal during 2020.
The orders have continued,
pointing to sustained growth.
“Seed work has denitely
gotten very busy, he says. “But
farmers didn’t plant more
than 300% of seeds. We just
have to make sure we grow
more seeds.
Growing opportunity
Alex Augustyniak, general
manager with West Coast
Seeds in Delta, says a lot of
farmers are looking to get into
seed production. He says the
volume of sales hasn’t slowed
down, even with the onset of
fall.
“Usually, we get a little bit
of a break, but this year, no,
he says. “People are buying
tomatoes and peppers now.
They want to make sure they
have the varieties they want.
Farms are also ordering
seed early.
“Back in June they were
starting to kick in, he says.
“Farmers noticed that
[increase in sales] and
thought, ‘I better put my order
in earlier. They’re concerned,
or just getting prepared.
West Coast Seeds regularly
attends events to meet
farmers and learn about new
varieties. Its also part of the
All-America Selections
program that tests new
varieties of seed and has a
quarter-acre test garden.
Were always talking to
people and were looking at
dierent varieties, he says.
The majority of the players
were dealing with, they’ve
been doing it for four
generations.
Catzel says BC residents
and businesses purchase $25
million in vegetable seeds
every year, just a fraction of
which is produced in-
province. This means there’s
plenty of room to grow local
seed production.
There’s interest in farmers
in doing this work, but its just
not part of their business
model, he says. “I think thats
starting to change now, …
[but] it’s a very long-term
picture. A sustainable seed
system is going to take
decades of training and
learning and collaboration.
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For centuries, domestic
crops have been bred and
nurtured for yield and
resistance to threats such as
pests, diseases, heat and
drought. But climate change
is upending ideas about
current breeding methods.
A team of researchers from
Africa, Asia, Europe and South
America working with
scientists with the
International Center for
Agricultural Research in the
Dry Areas (ICARDA), part of
the CGIAR Consortium of
International Agricultural
Research Centers network,
explored innovative ideas to
boost crop resistance by
studying their wild relatives.
The focus was on durum
wheat. They looked at 60
unique varieties which
were exposed to
challenges including
fungal diseases, drought
and high temperatures. A
third of the wheat lines
were actually hybrids of wild
relatives bred with strong
commercial varieties.
“Crops’ wild relatives have
been selected by nature over
millennia to withstand the
very climatic stresses that we
are trying to address, says
Filippo Bassi, a scientist in
Morocco with ICARDA. The
wild relatives really help to
tolerate stresses such as
drought, heat and low
fertilization rates. These are
wild grass species often found
in extremely harsh
environments, so it is this
plasticity to tolerate extreme
stresses that we try to
harness. Some of the traits we
have noticed are larger grain
size and better root systems,
also typical of their wild
makeup.
He said that making the
investment from traditional
crop breeding to the inclusion
of wild relatives can be risky
and it is critical to ensure
there is a real advantage to
doing so.
“Making the initial cross-
pollination is already
challenging and, through the
selection process, the breeder
needs to look at thousands of
ugly plants in the hope to nd
one or a few that look good,
says Bassi. Wild relatives [did
not evolve] to provide food
for humans but to survive the
environment. As such, we
need to get the good
resilience from the wild, but
especially make sure that the
nal plant maintains the high
productivity and adaptation
to human agriculture of
modern varieties.
He says that there is value
in genetic variation. The more
biodiversity that is built in, the
greater chance there is of
developing better plants. But
some crosses give preferential
results.
“For instance, emmer has
been very good to improve
the grain size and root depth,
while goat grass has more
root biomass and promotes
pollen more resistant against
heat, he says. The other wild
types also have traits that
seem easier to get, while with
others we have a hard time
transferring.
For instance, some wild
relatives have small grains or
Breeding crops for
the future means
looking backwards
Wild relatives of familiar crops
can contribute resilience
poor our production or are
too sticky or not sticky
enough for food processing. It
is therefore important that,
when using wild relatives,
these limitations are kept in
mind so that only ideal
varieties are selected for food
production.
About a third of wild
relative varieties were
resistant to the fungal disease
septoria compared to just a
tenth of the others. But
conventional wheat varieties
were more resistant to other
diseases, like leaf rust, that
have been the focus of past
breeding programs.
Where wild relative wheat
varieties excelled was under
drought and heat stress. The
wild relative lines had larger
grains, a critical adaptation.
When nitrogen was in short
supply, the wild-derived lines
produced a higher yield.
“In the case of temperature,
the crop wild relative
presented a clear advantage
with a yield increase of 42%
under heat stress, says Bassi.
“Yield losses to heat can be
drastic, and the use of crop
wild relatives to breed new
varieties appears to be a very
strategic approach to address
climatic challenge.
The research has received
much support from farmers
while breeders are a little
more cautious.
To date we are seeing very
strong appreciation by
farmers, while breeders
remain still a bit skeptical, he
says. “Even though we now
have mounting evidence that
it does work, and the
outcome is sometimes epic, it
is hard to truly change this
vision. However, we are seeing
a slow shift, with more
breeders requesting this type
of germplasm. I hope that,
within ve to 10 years, using
wild relatives in the breeding
programs will become normal
rather than exceptional.
Going forward, Bassi says
they have just scratched the
surface. There are thousands
of wild relative species stored
in the gene banks that need
to be investigated and
integrated into modern
varieties in order to address
the impacts of climate
change.
This is somewhat an
applied approach, but we
have not fully understood its
basics yet, he says. “I hope we
will be able to study in more
detail what happens at the
molecular level when two
dierent species are
combined. That will ultimately
help us in being more
targeted and successful.
Research
by MARGARET EVANS
Straight ahead
Chilliwack Plowing Society president Francis Sache, who has won several BC plowing championships,
ponders the future of plowing matches during the COVID-19 pandemic at the unofcial Chilliwack
Plowing Match, October 3. The story and more photos are on page 41.
PHOTO / DAVID SCHMIDT
THAT’S A KEEPER. Brian Faulkner, vice president of business development for BC Fresh, was picking his favourites
at the potato trial eld day in Delta in late August. BC potato growers are reporting an exceptional harvest this
year in spite of some wet weather at the end of September. PHOTO / RONDA PYANE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 27
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by RONDA PAYNE
DELTA – Lower Mainland
growers are looking at a
record-breaking potato crop
this year thanks to an early
start and good weather
through the growing season.
This crop is ranking up
with our record-breaking crop
from two years ago, says
Murray Driediger, president
and CEO with BC Fresh
Vegetables Inc., whose
growers produce 80% of the
provinces potato crop. “Pretty
well everybody from Sumas
right through to Delta has
reported better-than-average
yields and all the quality that
we have seen that is coming
out of storage, were pleased
with it.
Hes condent volumes will
exceed those of 2018, which
was a benchmark crop. This
could put the harvest at close
to 110,000 tons, well above
the 105,000 tons Statistics
Canada reports was harvested
in 2018. Preliminary gures
were expected by the end of
October.
“For the most part, every
potato type, red, white,
yellow, russet and Kennebec
have higher than normal
yields, says Driediger
Cory Gerrard of Swenson
Farms in Delta grows about
20 dierent varieties on 400
acres in Delta, Abbotsford and
Kamloops. Yields were above
average across the board.
We had a pretty good
growing season. A pretty early
start, he says. We got a
decent fall. It was too dry and
then it got too wet. I’m pretty
sure that most people got
everything out though, thats
the main thing.
Jack Bates, co-owner of
Tecarte Farms, considers
himself on par with other
growers.
“Crops in BC were pretty
good, he says. Theres some
big crops. We had our days,
but I think in the end,
everyone got their crop out.
Unfortunately, marketing
those high yields could be a
challenge for some growers
this year. Tecarte only
produces Kennebec, a variety
grown specically for fresh-
cut fries. Demand dropped
when COVID-19 shut down
foodservice channels in
March, leaving growers
saddled with hundreds of
tons of the variety. Retail
partners had to step up to
move the backlog.
With restaurant business
yet to return to normal,
Kennebec demand is likely to
remain down well into 2021.
Some growers rejigged
their plans at the start of the
season in anticipation of a
long-term shift in demand.
Gerrard changed his planting
around, for example, growing
fewer Kennebecs.
We denitely grew less of
those, he says. We still do a
fair amount of food service …
[but] who knows whats going
to happen there.
Planting came early this
year, but that kept growers
ahead of the cool wet
weather that arrived in June.
An issue common to all
farmers, including potato
growers this season, was
labour. Gerrard says his
challenges coincided with
governmental relief programs.
When the CERB benet
came out, all of a sudden our
labour issues magnied, he
says. We were lucky our
foreign help was already here.
Without them we would have
been in big trouble. We were
a little slower in production in
March.
The large crop and lack of
labour meant many growers
started harvest early. This
could present storage disease
issues but Driediger isn’t too
worried.
“It was still warm in early
September and that always
poses some risk for storage
crop, he says. Were closely
monitoring several storages
just to make sure theyre
going to hold up.
BC Fresh is pleased with
pricing so far but Driediger
expects prices to level out.
“Once all the storage
numbers get reported, North
American-wide prices will
probably settle down by
winter, he says. “Some of the
volume is sold over the winter
and then adjustments will be
made accordingly.
Potatoes head for record-breaking harvest
Growers grappling with shifting
market demand
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28 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Ian Richardson has been growing garlic at Rocky Ridge Farm in Mara since 2000. Wet weather in June, before
harvest, made it challenging to cure this year’s crop. PHOTO / SUBMITTED
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 29
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KELOWNA – BC garlic
growers are harvesting about
four times as much garlic as
they did a decade ago, but a
cool spring and wet weather
just before harvest challenged
some growers this year.
“It was a very stressful year
for many of my growers, says
Jim Capellini of Rasa Creek
Farm in Lumby. Hes grown
garlic since 2009. He markets
seed garlic purchased from
about a dozen other growers
who sell directly to him.
Capellini planted about
4,000 cloves last fall for
harvest this summer.
“I lost about 30% of my
crop because it was too wet.
Bulbs began to develop mold
while still in the ground prior
to harvest, he explains.
Two of the organic growers
who supply him with seed
fared even worse than he did,
losing their crops to botrytis.
“Both farms were certied
organic, and so my access to
certied bulb was seriously
restricted, he says.
Botrytis spores can travel
with seed stock to new elds,
introducing the fungus to an
otherwise clean crop when
conditions are right. Organic
growers have few options for
controlling the fungus, so
neither Capellini nor his
growers felt comfortable
reserving a portion of this
years crop for seed sales.
Ian Richardson, whos been
growing garlic since 1988 and
has operated Rocky Ridge
Farm in Mara since 2000,
planted about 20,000 cloves
on half an acre this year. While
he didn’t see signicant
losses, the weather made it
tough to cure the crop.
“Our growing season was
okay, just okay, he says. We
lost some garlic as it was too
wet, especially right before
harvest time, which is when
you want garlic to be drying
out in the ground. In a normal
year, you quit watering about
two weeks before you
harvest. This year it rained
almost right up to harvest.
Abdul Majid of BC Garlic
Growers Inc. in Abbotsford
also faced challenges curing
his crop. He farms 48 varieties,
for a total of approximately
150,000 plants. The quality
was excellent, but didn’t
come without eort.
We had a fantastic crop,
he says. The least amount of
crop loss, and crop quality
was great and sizes were
amazing. … But rain once a
week wasn’t good for drying
and curing these large heads.
Doug Saba of Curly Willow
Organic Farms in Grindrod
lost about a quarter of his
crop, or more than 900 bulbs,
to botrytis. His Russian Red
was more aected than his
Yugoslavian garlic.
Fortunately, he was able to
salvage enough good cloves
to replant this fall, hoping that
the healthy cloves will give
next years crop a measure of
resistance to the fungus.
To try and ward o fungus
issues with his next crop, Saba
will use less mulch around his
plants. He may also look for
an organic product to treat
them in the spring. Knowing
that this years crop had
botrytis, he chose not to sell it
as seed garlic.
Kelowna grower fared well
Even with a cooler spring,
some growers in Kelowna saw
good crops.
Now in their third year of
garlic production, Michael
and Jane Johnston of Avoca
Farms and Vineyards had their
best crop ever.
They used garlic as a way
to boost cash ow while
developing their aronia berry
operation. They seeded
165,000 cloves in the ground
on about 2.5 acres, and
another 30,000 in pots.
Jane says 75% of the cloves
produced heads of garlic
varying in size. They were
happy with the outcome,
attributing their success to
their sandy soil and greater
experience.
A notable challenge this
year was voles. While garlic is
supposed to deter the
rodents, the vole population
seemed higher this year. The
tiny varmints not only made
runs through the eld but
moved bulbs, increasing the
risk of disease spreading
around the planting.
She says their potted garlic
turned out even better due to
the controlled growing
environment. Michael’s
familiarity with potted
growing in Ireland, where the
method is more common,
prompted them to give it a
try in Canada.
“It took a year of trial and
error to get the fertilizer,
watering and management of
it in place, she says, “but,
overall, we were very
successful for what many
have told us was a
challenging year.
Monde Janzen of Janzen
Garlic Acres Inc. in Kelowna
was pleased with the results
of her own 5,000 plants
following a poor crop in 2019.
Janzen relocated from her
operation from Abbotsford to
Kelowna two years ago.
Although she had success
with the crop in Abbotsford,
shes spent the last two years
adjusting to local growing
conditions in the Okanagan.
We got good quantities
but I learned that we’ll stick
with hard-neck garlic and
work next year to increase the
garlic’s size, she explains.
Janzen sees opportunities
for local garlic and plans to
plant 30,000 to 35,000 cloves
this fall, using a garlic splitter
to separate them from the
heads. The splitter reduces
labour costs.
The ambition and
innovation of growers like
Janzen and the Johnstons
give Capellini condence in
the future of the sector. Hes
been working to grow it since
planting his rst 107 cloves of
Russian Red, German Red and
Yugoslavian garlic in 2009. He
expanded to 40,000 bulbs
annually and planned to grow
even larger, but scaled back
to focus on growing the
industry through workshops
and seed sales.
Capellini believes theres a
hole in the marketplace that
could be lled with locally
produced garlic.
According to international
trade data, Canada imported
45.6 million pounds of garlic
worth $60.5 million last year.
China accounted for more
than 80% of imports, followed
by the US and Spain.
Were still importing 85%
of what we need for fresh
garlic in Canada, says
Capellini. The demand is
there, if people can produce
it.
Weather posed challenges for garlic growers
Cool temperatures, pre-harvest rain complicated high-quality crop
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30 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
by MYRNA STARK LEADER
KELOWNA – Having a
market is key for any crop, but
how BC garlic growers access
markets is nearly as varied as
the provinces growers.
Statistics Canada reports
that garlic acreage in BC has
been declining since 2016
when production peaked at
385 acres. Last year, there
were 210 acres cultivated,
producing a marketable crop
of 237 tons, worth $3.3
million. Thats about $6.96 a
pound.
We had a good year at the
farmers market, says Monde
Janzen of Janzen Garlic Acres
Inc., who sells her garlic by
size rather than weight. A
large bulb is $3. She also
discovered that packaging
several Russian Red bulbs in a
net sleeve or basket for a set
price helped boost sales.
Additionally, to help sales
and grow awareness of her
business, Janzen also paid to
have some work done for her
on search engine
optimization. It helped ensure
that if people search garlic
Kelowna online, Janzen Garlic
Acres is near the top of the
list.
“Because we are new to the
market, and hoping to grow
more garlic next year, its
helped us to have another
way for people to discover us,
she says. There was more
demand than we could ll,
especially for people looking
for seed garlic. We also got
customers and tourists
wanting boxes of garlic for
culinary purposes and our old
retailers, Hamilton Farms from
Abbotsford, who wanted us to
supply them with garlic.
Still in Kelowna, Avoca
Farms and Vineyards sold
their top garlic for between
$12-$16 a pound at the end of
July and the beginning of
August, mostly in large
quantities, to customers in
Vancouver, where owners
Michael and Jane Johnston
previously lived.
We sold the majority of
our whole garlic to restaurants
and businesses in Vancouver –
the Terminal City Club, the
Vancouver Club, a group of
downtown restaurants, as well
as some produce distributors,
says Jane, adding they could
have sold more if they had it.
While the restaurants were
quieter, they still needed
garlic. Johnston also saw sales
through BC Tree Fruits Market
to local restaurants and by
word of mouth. She says
networking as a member of
the Canadian Health Food
Association and Kelowna
Chamber of Commerce also
helped make connections to
new sales opportunities and
other farmers.
Festivals cancelled
For sellers who counted on
garlic festival sales, life
changed in 2020.
Ian Richardson of Rocky
Ridge Farm in Mara typically
sells his garlic for $12-$14 per
pound, depending on size.
This year, he grew four
varieties to try and meet
consumer needs, some early
garlic like Purple Turban, as
well as Yugoslavian and
Russian Red to satisfy
customers who like more
intense avours. However, the
ve places Richardson usually
markets – the Revelstoke Farm
and Craft Market, the
Grindrod Garlic Festival, the
Cariboo Garlic Festival, Hills
Garlic Festival located in New
Denver and the Revelstoke
Garlic Festival – were all
cancelled or shifted to online
sales.
The Grindrod festival, for
example, accessed grant
money to help create an
online event. Vendors like
Richardson, who is also a
board member, were listed.
That was good for some of
us who already had all our
products listed online so it
was easy for us to transfer that
content into the festival site,
but it was more dicult for
others starting from scratch,
he says.
Repeat customers of 20
years or more helped
Richardsons sales. He says
many people are continually
buying greater quantities.
Sales ranged from a pound to
20-30 pounds as people
purchase their year’s supply.
Hes hopeful customers of
BC garlic understand the
challenges of this wet season
and that perhaps getting a
clove of local garlic that wasn’t
fully cured doesn’t turn them
o buying BC.
Like Richardson, Abdul
Majid from BC Garlic Growers
Inc. in Abbotsford has also
experienced increasing sales.
He grows many varieties
because he sees room to
teach consumers, chefs and
local food makers more about
garlic’s uses – from the leaves,
to scapes, to bulbs.
We are certied organic
and our fundamental
mandate is to make BC a
reliable supplier to consumers
in the Lower Mainland. We’re
also trying to bring awareness
around food security, says
Majid.
He says it’s more work to
grow so many types, but more
varieties lead to more
knowledge. Like apples, garlic
varieties have unique avour
proles. This means
consumers need more
education and experience
with garlic to determine what
they like. Hes also interested
in promoting the health
benets of garlic.
He says while labour costs
rose, hes kept prices stable for
four years, selling by size
rather than per pound into
the fresh and garlic seed
markets.
As a seed supplier and
garlic educator, Jim Capellini
of Rasa Creek Farms says
many in the public still don’t
realize that much of the garlic
sold in Canada is grown and
imported from China. This
does little to support a BC or
Canadian industry and
economy.
While hes still enthusiastic
about the possibilities for the
crop, he’s also realistic. In his
online courses, he coaches
newcomers to start slow and
to ensure they have a market.
Garlic growers employ mixed marketing strategies
Pandemic forced many growers to shift to online sales
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 31
Association aims to foster collaboration
The new Western Canadian Garlic Association has a dozen founding members
by MYRNA STARK LEADER
KELOWNA – The newly
established Western Canadian
Garlic Association continues
to take shape, despite the
challenges posed by the
COVID-19 pandemic.
We need to have more
conversations with other
growers to be on the same
page and discuss changes,
challenges and opportunities
with garlic, says Jane
Johnston, who with her
husband Michael launched
the association 18 months
ago.
Michael is president of the
association, which now has a
dozen members.
Jane wonders if today’s
growers are thinking enough
about garlic’s longevity as a
viable crop, particularly in the
Okanagan, given the
changing climate and
changing soil conditions.
She believes that a strong
association could facilitate
collaboration among growers,
yielding a number of benets.
An association might be
able to help members take
advantage of government programs or set up online sales. There could be
opportunities to gure out ways to extend the local season by adding late-
season garlic to supply retailers. The association might also be able to help
growers access crop
insurance.
We need to ensure we can
grow and distribute safe
garlic for sale, that we have
the various certications
required as well as a harvest
traceability to ensure we
know and meet the
requirements by [the
Canadian Food Inspection
Agency], says Jane.
She also sees the
association as a way for
growers to send valuable
information and data to the
government and decision-
makers in the food,
agriculture and food
processing industries, not to
mention sharing innovative
ideas that could help the
entire industry. One example
is a garlic undercutter Michael
designed for harvesting the
crop.
With the limited amount
of farm help available, it
made collecting the garlic
very easy. We were able to
harvest the majority of the
garlic without hitting or
damaging it. Truly a lifesaver,
no pulling garlic and having it
break o when pulled, Jane explains.
The Western Canadian Garlic Growers Association can be reached at
778.821.0450 or westerncanadiangarlic@gmail.com.
Jane and Michael Johnston of Avoca Farms and VIneyards spearheaded the launch of the Western Canadian Garlic
Growers Association last year. FILE PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
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Jo Schneider and Kaylan Madeira of Twisted Hills Craft Cider have six acres of cider trees in their orchard in Cawston. Cider-making is increasing
in popularity and sourcing the right apples to make the best cider can be challenging. PHOTO / SUBMITTED
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 33
by RONDA PAYNE
CAWSTON – Cidermaker
Kaylan Madeira with Twisted
Hills Craft Cider in Cawston is
pleased with the harvest from
her six acres of cider apple
trees, one of more than 30
orchards producing fruit for
the provinces growing cider
industry.
Twisted Hills grows 10
varieties of cider apples
alongside six acres of dessert
apples, peaches, pears and
cherries. The trees are
biennial bearers which makes
them high maintenance for
conventional producers, but
the provinces cidermakers
are keen to source more of
their tart fruit.
As demand for cider fruit
increases, the potential for
growers planting cider fruit
with no plans to make cider
themselves [exists], she says.
Blake Wylder, owner of
Wylder Trees on Salt Spring
Island, is one of the rare
individuals to see the
potential in supplying cider
makers. He and his father-in-
law had a plan to open their
own cidery, but realized they
couldn’t nd either the
apples or the trees they
needed.
Instead, Wylder decided to
focus on the trees and now
supplies others with 70
varieties from among 5,000
trees on his two acres.
“I really enjoy growing the
trees so I decided to keep the
cider-making as a hobby, he
says. “I launched the website
in January of 2019 and was
only operating for a few years
before that, just sort of by
word of mouth.
While not all of Wylders
apples are traditional cider
varieties, he says all have
great cider qualities. A few
that continue to be popular
include Redeld, the
crabapple Dolgo and the
apple-crabapple crosses Kerr
(whose lineage includes
Dolgo) and Hewes. In BC,
there is a wider range that are
suitable for the climate, so
Dabinett and Yarlington Mill
have been in demand as well
as some of the renowned
French and English varieties.
“I get a lot of demand for
crabapples, he says. This
spring I also saw a big uptake
in retail in people wanting
heirloom eating apples. I
think it was just people
getting back into their
gardens.
Cider association
Jason Child, general
manager of his familys
Merridale Cidery and
Distillery, is also the president
of the BC Farm Crafted Cider
Association. He says the
association currently has 29
members with others coming
on board as their licensing
comes through.
“Everyone is planting their
own orchards for the most
part, he says.
The majority of growers
and cideries are in the
Interior, with a lesser number
on Vancouver Island and the
Sunshine Coast.
Merridale grows about 25
dierent cider varieties on
approximately 50 acres of
orchards with 30 acres in
Cobble Hill and 20 acres in
Keremeos.
We don’t use any dessert
apples, really, he says.
He describes Merridale’s
harvest as great” this year,
both in Cobble Hill and
Keremeos. His top-
Demand boosts interest in older cider apples
Tart fruit yields
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for those with a
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performing varieties are
Tremlett’s Bitter, Yarlington
Mill and Dabinett.
“Its been a pretty nice
long, hot summer. Its been a
good year for growing, he says.
Child says all cider-makers
and growers have dierent
ideas on what they like.
“It depends on what their
orchard came with, and then
you work with what you
have.
See OLD on next page
o
OLD cider varieties are seeing a renaissance nfrom page 33
34 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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He says more cider apples
are becoming available and
cider-makers are seeking out
old varieties to plant, too.
“In the beginning, they
could only buy what was
available, which were mostly
eating apples, but now there’s
more cider apples available to
them, he says. A lot of these
guys are doing the dwarf
trees; they produce a lot more
for smaller acreages.
Cider trees are also the
priority at Burton City Cider in
the West Kootenay
community of Burton, where
co-owners Barbara and Alan
Ross have six acres planted
with about 95% cider trees.
We have eight dierent
varieties because we didn’t
know what would grow well
in the valley, Barbara says.
When we expand, we can
expand specically with the
ones that do the best for us.
Her trees were planted in
2015 and are just now
reaching full production.
We have nowhere near
enough, she says. We get a
lot of apples from the
Okanagan to supplement. We can’t get [cider apples]
from anyone.
Ross’s apple set was poor on some varieties due
to a cold, wet spring. Overall her yield is down from
last year when she had a really good crop of
Dabinett, though hardly any of the variety this year.
She believes it’s due to the biennial nature of the
trees and not a weather issue or the lack of heat in
the region.
“I guess that is the reality to some degree, she
says. “I’m fairly new as an orchardist.
There is no codling moth at Burton City Cider, but
Ross is on the lookout. She’s also watching for re
blight, a signicant issue for some cider varieties.
Apple scab is present, which also demands vigilance.
Missy Dobernigg, owner and cider-maker with
Vernon’s BX Press Cidery and Orchard, says her
Michelin variety apples underperformed this year.
The operation uses up all of
the 10-plus varieties of cider
apples grown on-site and a
few of its dessert apples. (Most
of her dessert apples ship to
BC Tree Fruits.)
We have a nice crop and
the stu we grafted in 2015 is
bearing now, she says. They
look really good. It was
actually a really good year. ”
Production is now to the
point where there are enough
apples to create the 50,000
litres of cider BX Press crafts
with the mix of cider apples
and dessert apples. Disease
pressure is a minimal issue,
she says, as the visual aspect
of the apple is far less
important when making cider.
The need for cider apples is
growing as the industry
evolves.
“In the last year and a half,
it’s denitely been quite a bit
busier, says Wylder. “Cider in
general has had quite an
increase in interest in the last
10 years.
He feels that when some
plant cider apple trees, they
are aware they can fetch a
higher price for the fruit, but adds that most people
“make the leap to, ‘if I’m going to grow apples, I may
as well make cider, though some are looking to start
an orchard.
Wylder hasn’t had any real pest or disease
pressures, but adds that the trees are young, about
two years old at the point of sale.
“I’m going to start doing perry pears, he says.
“Because those are really hard to come by.
The BC Farm Crafted Cider Association has 29 members and expects to grow as new cider makers are
licenced. That’s providing new opportunities for growers. FILE PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
Evans Farms
marks a century
of ranching
Women played a key role in the
ranchs endurance
Marion and
Bill Evans are
still active on
the ranch now
managed by
their son Glyn
and his wife
Stephanie.
Glyn and Stephanie Evans with their daughters Lindsay, Kaitlyn, Sierra with Mya, and Julia. PHOTO / SUBMITTED
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 35
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
Appraiser
250.782.1088
info@aspengrovepropertyservices.ca
by MARGARET EVANS
DOE RIVER – In Doe River
just north of Dawson Creek,
the Evans family is
celebrating 100 years of
ranching in BC this fall, one of
ve farms recognized with
the provinces Century Farm
Award this year.
Evans Farms is owned by
Glyn and Stephanie Evans,
who run the 2,100-acre ranch
as a cow/calf operation with
about 350 head.
Glyns personal history
intertwines two families with
diverse origins, one from
England and the other from
the US.
Seeking new
opportunities, Glyn’s great-
grandfather Benjamin
Holloway visited Canada and
found land near Lloydminster,
Alberta. Following the horrors
of the First World War, in
which a family member saw
action, and the Spanish u
pandemic, which claimed one
of their members on his
return from the battleeld,
the family headed to Canada
to make a fresh start.
Benjamin and his wife
Ellen, plus their three
children, William, Cyril and
Dorothy made the trip.
“[They] left three adult
children behind, says Glyn.
They came in 1919 and
spent their rst winter in
Quebec. They came to the
Peace as that was where
unsettled land was still
available as the settlement of
Western Canada pushed
west.
The family started farming
in Doe River in 1920.
Benjamin, William and Cyril
each led on a quarter
section of the farm property
where the family raised cows
and grain crops.
At the same time, John and
Lenore Albright arrived in
Doe River from Whitman,
Washington. In July 1920,
they acquired a quarter
section of land and started
farming. With them were their
daughters Gladys and Mabel,
and their son Russell.
Russell started farming in
the early 1930s. He hired a
housekeeper, Minnie Cornish,
a divorced mother of four,
and they subsequently
married. They had three
children together, including a
daughter, Marion.
Meanwhile, Dorothy
Holloway married William
Evans in 1934 and they had
two children, Bill and Mona.
But, sadly, William senior
passed away in 1947 so
Dorothy continued farming
on her own with help from
Bill, a tribute, Glyn says, to the
strength and resilience of the
women in his family.
There were no good
roads, no communication, he
says. “I’m not sure if they had
their rst vehicle then, or
soon after. But she did have
hired help. Dad talked about
dierent men who worked for
her at dierent times. They
had a few cows and she
milked cows into her mid-80s.
They had a lot of pigs. Dad
said that, during the 1940s,
1950s and 1960s, everyone
had pigs and that’s what
actually paid for the farms.
Pigs were easy to raise and
you could make money with
them. They are highly prolic.
Deep roots in farming
Bill Evans married Marion
Albright. They farmed next to
Dorothy and had four
children, William, Wade,
Desmond and Glyn.
Marion also had a farming
background, one that
extended back to Indiana,
where the family had
farmland. When the farm was
sold, her father took his share
and headed west, trying his
luck in three dierent locales.
The family nally ended up in
Canada.
“My great-grandmother
Albright (née Wolf) came
from a very wealthy family,
he says. “I took my mom to
Indiana to see where she was
from last year because she
had heard about it but had
never been there. We got in
touch with the people who
still owned the house. Its like
a 10,000-square-foot home,
built of brick. Right now, its
imposing. Back then, it was
like a castle. Unfortunately,
my great-great-grandfather
tried farming but lost a
fortune. Great-grandma
Albright was born into that
and was educated at
Valparaiso University, Indiana.
She graduated in music and
enjoyed playing piano. So, on
both sides of the family, the
ladies came here from very
dierent lifestyles yet stuck it
out.
Glyns wife Stephanie was
born in Vancouver, raised in
Chetwynd then moved to
Dawson Creek where the
couple met. Now 46 and 47,
respectively, Glyn and
Stephanie run an agronomy
consulting business
alongside the ranch
operation. They have four
daughters and three
grandchildren, the sixth
generation of the Evans
family.
Glyn truly salutes the
women in his family.
All of them have been
very civic-minded, he says.
They have been involved in
dierent groups like Womens
Institute and the local rodeo.
These two families I
descended from have been
closely intertwined since
settling here in 1920. As all
pioneers did, they relied on
each other as neighbours.
Minnie, my maternal
grandmother, acted as
midwife for the birth of my
father. My mom and dad
grew up just a half-mile from
each other.
Glyn and Stephanie farm
with Glyns parents who are
still very active with their own
land and cows.
“Dad’s 81, still rides horses
and works cows including at
the recent Sunset Pasture
bush push, when cattle are
rounded up from the range.
Mom helps us move
equipment and always has a
meal on the table for the
hungry at a moments notice.
For Glyn, receiving the
centennial farm designation
honours his parents and all
the relatives who came
before. They seeded the
dream of a farm that has
bound the family together for
100 years, and the foundation
for a future that sees Glyn
and Stephanies daughters
extending the familys
agricultural activities, each in
their own way.
The blessed old potato sizer makes the cut for outstanding mechanical achievement. PHOTO / ANNA HELMER
36 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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The submission deadline
for this article falls right after
the Thanksgiving weekend,
which has informed the article
content. It presents a
quandary because although I
am not opposed to oering
thanks as stipulated this
weekend, I also need to point
out – especially to those who
may equate Thanksgiving with
an end-of-the-season
celebration – that it’s not over
just yet. Quite a bit of
opportunity still exists for
carnage to occur and it is an
unacceptable temptation of
fate to assume otherwise.
In this article, I have
therefore attempted to adopt
a structure that takes that into
account. It is obvious to me, if
not yet to you, that the best
way to do that is to conduct
an awards nomination
announcement ceremony. I
could have chosen an
electoral structure
(candidates, polling, voting
etc.) but then it would have
been too obvious that I was
attempting to
reference and even
satirize aspects of the
political action
underway at this time.
I prefer a more murky
and deniable linkage.
This years themes
include thankfulness,
retrospection and the frankly
superstitious
acknowledgment that the last
quarter of the year has yet to
take its toll (I mean…unfold).
And so, without further ado,
heres a selection of categories
and notable nominations:
Leading right o with
Potato of the Year: Sieglinde
clinches. This is really a race
for runner-up. The Gemstar
Russet and the Red Chieftain
look and taste promising.
High-Impact Weed or Pest of
the Year: Leading the tiresome
list of nominations is
barnyardgrass – commonly
known as Nasty Grass – that
successfully produces tens of
thousands of hardy seeds that
last in the soil for years. Its
moving into every eld and
causing us to consider
purchasing an expensive
cultivator from Europe.
Mistake of the Year (Public
Selection): Planting the peas
BEFORE putting up the
support fence, ame weeding
the carrots a day late.
Disappointment of the Year
(Minor Irritations): The tractor
seat that seems to be
disintegrating before our eyes
– one of the armrests fell o
the other day. One day, it was
a bit saggy, o the next. This
category created to reect this
incident, and just in time for
the next nomination: the
federal government
announcing a pending ban on
single-use plastics.
It just proves the point that
gimmicky window dressing
can mask a real problem. I sell
a lot of potatoes in plastic.
Please don’t chuck the bag in
the ocean when you are done,
I urge my customers. We never
do, they assure me. We all
then wonder how it gets
there.
Disappointment of the Year
(Major Impact): The rst
markets of COVID in March
lead the way, wreaking havoc
on our farm budget, business
plan and morale, yet signalling
new opportunities. No other
nominations in this category.
Lifetime Award for
Outstanding Mechanical
Achievement: Nominees must
be heavily depended-upon in
critical service, irreplaceable
and at least 50. The small
tractor, ageless, which should
do little more than pull
irrigation pipe around, gets a
nod. It pulls the potato planter
every spring. When the
hopper is run low enough
before a headland turn is
required, there are no
diculties. On the plus side, I
don’t remember the last time
it required fuel. Dad must do
it, although there is a very real
possibility that he assumes I
do it.
The old potato-sizer also
qualies for a nomination. It
works by shaking spuds over
various-sized grates,
depositing them into separate
chutes for small, medium and
large. Sometimes it shakes
itself literally to pieces but
luckily lends itself to repair –
often requiring that super-
sticky red Tuck Tape and zip
ties, themselves perennial
nominees in the Useful Tools
and Materials (Non-Traditional)
category.
Everyone wants to know
Employee of the Year. All are
nominated. All win. Champers
all around.
Thankful, that’s for sure.
Anna Helmer farms with her
bubble in the Pemberton Valley,
and by now has had some
questions answered.
Farm Story
by ANNA HELMER
Nominees announced for seasonal awards
Polls are open and some familiar
nominees are in the running
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Country
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Rosina Rodighiero used the bursary she received from the J.R. (Tim) Armstrong Memorial Fund to help with
expenses in her last year at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Now, she and her partner are putting her
post-secondary education to good use, creating a new mixed farm in Cawston. PHOTO / SUBMITTED
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 37
Bursary winner
plants roots in
Cawston
Post-secondary education
awards contribute to agriculture
by RONDA PAYNE
CAWSTON – Numerous post-secondary education programs
support agricultural pursuits. Animal husbandry, soil sciences,
entomology, journalism and others contribute to a thriving
and intelligent agricultural system.
An informal permaculture design course helped Rosina
Rodighiero realize she wanted to be directly involved in
agriculture. She followed it up with the Sustainable Agriculture
and Food Systems degree program at Kwantlen Polytechnic
University but she needed nancial assistance to see it
through.
Rodighiero applied for the J.R. (Tim) Armstrong Memorial
Fund bursary, managed by the BC Farm Writers Association,
last year to assist with the costs of her nal year. The award of
$1,000 supported her through to graduation.
Shes now working at an organic orchard in Cawston as she
and her partner, Dylan Butler-Urbanovitch, develop their own
farm.
Were leasing land. There’s [fruit and nut] trees that we’ve
planted, she says. “In our market garden, it will be similar to
what everyone has – tomatoes, peppers, probably some corn.
We’ll try some greens and see how they will do.
The soil and plant science courses Rodighier
o took will be
particularly helpful as she and Butler-Urbanovitch adapt what
they learned in a cooler, wetter climate to the arid, desert-like
environment of Cawston. She feels that an understanding of
the soil’s needs, microbes and other factors will assist them in
ensuring healthy soil and a regenerative farming practice.
“Not everything will work the same way, she says of the
transition. “Our focus is denitely on trying to do more
perennial crops. … In our minds, that’s a more regenerative
approach.
BCFWA helps students like Rodighiero contribute to
agriculture by supporting their educational goals.
The capital for the fund was created through contributions
from BCFWA and like-minded individuals to honour
Armstrongs outstanding contributions to BC journalism and
the agriculture industry as the long-time publisher and editor
of Country Life in BC, the province’s oldest agriculture
publication. For the past 40 years, students have received
bursaries based on strong academic performance, nancial
need and a commitment to their chosen eld.
Applications are now open for the 2020 J.R. (Tim)
Armstrong Memorial Fund bursary. British Columbia students
enrolled in their second year or higher of a journalism or
agriculture program at a Canadian post-secondary school are
invited to apply. The recipient will be selected in January 2021
with funds awarded shortly thereafter.
The deadline for applications is December 31, 2020. The
bursary cover letter can be found at [www.bcfwa.ca/resources-
-links.html] or by contacting bursary chair Ronda Payne, at
[ronda.eyben@shaw.ca].
J.R. (Tim) Armstrong Memorial
Bursary for Students in Agriculture
or Journalism Programs
Application Deadline:
December 31, 2020
The Tim Armstrong
Memorial Bursary is open to
British Columbian students
who are enrolled in their
second year or higher of
a full-time agriculture or
journalism program at
a university, institute or
regional college
in Canada.
See: http://www.bcfwa.
ca/resources--links.html
Contact:
Ronda Payne
Scholarship Chair
ronda.eyben@shaw.ca
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Darren Jansen Owner
604.794.3701
organicfeeds@gmail.com
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Certified by Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd.
38 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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by JACKIE PEARASE
KAMLOOPS – COVID-19
restrictions failed to dampen
the enthusiasm for a revised
version of the 82nd annual
Provincial Winter Fair that
included the only live inter-
club 4-H show and auction in
BC this season.
“It was a small show but
there was representation in
almost all divisions, says 4-H
and open beef division
representative Carole Gillis.
A series of stock shows and
a live auction took place at
the fair, held September 25-28
at Circle Creek Ranch and
Equestrian Centre in
Kamloops.
Organizers limited
attendance in the barn area,
everyone but the auctioneer
wore a mask for the entire
event, and 4-H exhibitors
brought their animals in for
the show, then hauled them
out the same day.
We developed an
enhanced health and safety
plan requiring mask wearing,
screening of attendees, and
physical distancing. Lower-
than-usual entries were an
admitted advantage this year,
allowing the event to
maintain limits of 50 people
on site, explains PWF chair
David Arduini.
Gillis says a few people
resisted wearing a mask
because the barn is not
enclosed but relented once
they learned it was part of the
health and safety plan the
show developed in
conjunction with the health
authority.
She says 4-H members
embraced the format so they
could enjoy showing and
auctioning their animals.
“I think the kids had a great
time. They were so
appreciative of an
opportunity to have an inter-
club show that the fact that
they hauled in that morning
and hauled out that
afternoon didn’t seem to
disappoint them. They were
so excited to be able to show
and compete and win prizes,
Gillis notes. “So it felt pretty
gratifying to be able to oer it
to these kids.
Between 50 and 60 4-H
members took part in the
show and 75 entries were in
the auction.
The sheep show had lower
numbers this year, mainly due
to timing. While beef
members purchase their
animals in November, lambs
are bought in the spring. That
coincided this year with the
height of uncertainty around
how the pandemic would
impact agricultural fairs.
We denitely did see some
signicantly lower numbers in
the sheep show because of
that. We went from having
three classes of ewe lambs
last year to one this year, Gillis
says.
There were not a lot of
open cattle entries other than
carcasses but all of the 4-H
cattle divisions were
represented, she adds.
It was the rst time in
memory that the PWF hosted
a 4-H poultry division, with
laying hens, fancy chickens
and heritage turkey projects
competing.
“It was small but mighty,
Gillis says of the poultry show.
“People were really excited
about it. We hope that will be
an avenue for urban families
to be involved in 4-H.
The show was also
livestreamed, which allowed
families to watch their kids
while respecting the
attendance limits.
We will do that every year
whether theres COVID or not.
It was very well received and
not as expensive as we feared.
It wasn’t cheap or free but it
wasn’t prohibitively
expensive, she says.
Organizers are hoping to
go back to a regular format
next year but are prepared to
use what they learned this
year if the situation remains
the same.
“I think we’ve established a
template that works for us
and our community and we’ll
look for ways to improve on
parts of it, Gillis says. Were
looking for feedback from our
community but generally we
think it was an overwhelming
success. We’re pretty chued.
Auction, show results
The 4-H auction was
strong, with the average steer
price $3.43 a pound, while the
average 4-H lamb price was
$625, and youth open lamb
$727.27 each.
The 4-H carcass steers
averaged $5.81 a pound and
4-H carcass lambs $568.75.
Open projects also enjoyed
excellent prices, only
marginally lower than the 4-H
prices.
Were really proud of the
sale. Buyers really stepped up
to make sure every single one
of our exhibitors did well. It
was an easy sell in some
cases, because the quality of
exhibits was outstanding this
year and seemed to really
drive prices, says Arduini.
Carcass committee
organizer Doug Haughton
agrees.
We had three prime
grading steers out of 12 in our
PWF carcass competition.
Normally 2% of cattle in
federal facilities grade prime,
so this is outstanding and we
know we will have very happy
buyers.
The grand champion steer
of show, weighing 1,480
pounds and exhibited by
Natalie Bucher of Yale County
4-H Club, sold for $3.50 a
pound to Rick and Ada
Mogge at Grandview Acres.
Reserve grand champion,
also 1,480 pounds, was
contributed by Portia Comrie
from Lower North Thompson
4-H club and brought $5 a
pound from Indian Gardens
Ranch and 7HL Ranch.
Grand champion lamb of
the show was Jacey
Hallstroms 138-pound 4-H
champion, from the Lower
North Thompson 4-H club,
earning $1,000 from J&K Farm.
Hazel Krause of Cache
Creek brought the open
champion and reserve grand
champion lamb at 133
Provincial Winter Fair hosts live 4-H events
Masks, attendance limits the hallmark of BC’s only live 4-H show
See next page
o
Opportunities for 4-H members to show
their livestock projects this year were few
and far between because of the COVID-19
pandemic. With precautions in place to limit
audiences and allow for social distancing,
Circle Creek Ranch in Kamloops hosted the
82nd annual Provincial Winter Fair in late
September to a smaller but no less
enthusiastic group of 4-H BC members.
Top, right, Hazel Krause of Cache Creek,
with help from big sister Bailey Krause,
showed the champion open and reserve
grand champion market lamb.
Bottom, left to right, are Morgan Tondevold
(Yale County club) with her Bourbon Red
turkey hen, 4-H showmanship grand
champion Portia Comrie (Lower North
Thompson); and Natalie Bucher, Ainsley
Dempsey, and Chance Brandon (Yale County)
exhibiting in the 4-H female beef class.
PHOTOS / ALYSHA MILWARD,
ALYSHA EILEEN PHOTOGRAPHY
4-H members do well at Provincial Winter Fair sale nfrom page 38
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC NOVEMBER 2020 | 39
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
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
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AB & BC* FARM REALTOR®
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403.308.1737
LIFESTYLE, RECREATION, & AWARD WINNING RANCHING
pounds, purchased for $1,000 by Chitter Chatter
Fabrics.
The grand champion beef carcass, contributed by
Jim Haughton and graded prime, sold to Intact
Distribution and Gerry Nagle for $5 a pound. The
reserve grand champion, also a prime and exhibited
by -J- Cattle Co., brought $5 a pound from long-
time buyer Kipp Mallery Pharmacy.
Josh Mathison of Knutsford brought the grand
champion lamb carcass, which was purchased by
Elmsland Insurance for $500. The reserve grand
champion, exhibited by Kal, Monica and Talley
Schalles, sold to MLA Jackie Tegart for $525.
The champion turkey trio, exhibited by Morgan
Tondevold of Yale County, sold to Frolek Cattle Co.
and Ada Mogge for $7 a pound. Tavish Comrie’s
reserve champion (tom only) from Lower North
Thompson sold to Doug and Jim Haughton for $11
a pound.
Champion 4-H sale photo came from Janessa
Rushka of Yale County and was purchased by David
Rushka for $250. The reserve champion from Jesilyn
Hooysma of Pritchard 4-H sold to Riverbend
Orchard for $200.
40 | NOVEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
When we left off last time,
Doug McLeod was giving Newt
Pullman the raspberries about
his living arrangement with
Susan Henderson when
Deborah interupted with an
offer of coffee and muffins.
Newt respectfully declined,
leaving Doug to his own
devices. Meanwhile, self-
isolating alone in Victoria,
Kenneth was desperately trying
to reach Janice Newberry.
Rural Redemption, Part 128,
continues ...
Kenneth Henderson
slammed his cell phone on
his kitchen counter and
regretted it immediately.
There was a sickening crunch
and cracks spread across the
screen in several directions.
The word idiot came instantly
to mind, but he chased it off
with a volley of profanity
directed at Erica Swift. The
disrespectful cow had
tormented him mercilessly
from the instant theyd met.
And now shed driven him to
smash his own cell phone. He
praised his self control and
congratulated himself for not
kicking holes in the drywall.
Erica Swift ended the call
halfway through the cursing
and swearing. The word idiot
came instantly to mind.
Kenneth consoled himself
with a tumbler of
Glenfiddich, then another. He
sent a text to Janice
Newberry, then another, and
shortly after that another,
and before long yet another.
In the space of two and a half
hours, he texted her 27 times
and filled his glass twice
more. He was halfway
through punching in the
28th when his phone rang. It
was her.
Janice, for the love of God,
why wouldn’t you answer?”
“Kenneth! For the love of
God, how long are you
going to keep this
childishness up?”
“I need to talk to you,
said Kenneth. We need
to talk.
“Did you not get my
message? I left it with
someone at your house. The
office is closed until further
notice. You are still being
paid and Erica Swift will
contact you if and when
there is anything for you to
do.
“I don’t care about work or
the office. I want to talk
about us.
“Us? Really? You want to
talk about us? There is no US
to talk about. The office is the
ONLY place there is an us and
I’ve just told you everything
there is to know about us
and the office.
Kenneths head was
swimming.
What do you mean theres
no us? Of course there is. We
made plans.
“You made promises,
Kenneth, not plans. You can’t
make plans with broken
promises.
We were going to be
together, said Kenneth.
“Surely, you remember that?”
The part I remember was
when you said you were
planning to leave your wife.
“But I am going to leave.
I’ve already left. I’m here
alone, at the apartment.
“I can imagine Deborah is
relieved, said Janice.
“Don’t worry about
Deborah. We need to talk
about us.
“Oh, my God. She threw
you out, didn’t she?”
“No, she didn’t throw me
out. This was my idea. I did
this for you.
“I doubt that very much,
Kenneth. Whatever this is,
you’re doing it for yourself.
“I’m doing it for us. I love
you. I know we can still make
this work.
Janice paused and
collected her thoughts.
WE aren’t going to make
anything work, she said. “I’m
living with someone I love,
and it’s not you.
Are you serious? Who are
you living with?”
“Yes, we are serious, and
who I’m with is none of your
business.
“Is it someone who knows
me?”
“Oh, give me a break,
Kenneth. You are not the
common denominator
between me and everyone
else on the planet.
“Have you told them about
me?”
“Yes, five minutes ago as a
matter of fact. He was curious
about what kind of a
numbskull would text every
five minutes for more than
two hours. I should probably
let you answer that yourself.
Hang on a sec.
A male voice came over
the phone.
“Kenneth, is it? This is
Dave. I trust you got the
message here loud and clear
and Janice won’t be hearing
from you again. Are you
good with that?”
“Fine, said Kenneth tersely.
“Okay, then. You have
yourself a fine afternoon
there, Kenny.
Kenneth started to say
thank you but realized the
call was over. Kenny? It had
an intimidating tone to it.
Dave, he decided, sounded
depressingly gauche.
vvv
Doug McLeod and Newt
Pullman said their goodbyes.
Newt headed up the old skid
road that would take him
through the woods to the
little bluffs at the north end
of Tinys where he would hit
the short-cut trail he’d
walked so often with Rocky. It
was the long way home from
Tinys old shop, but it would
give him a chance to check
on the cows in the far pasture
on his way.
Doug McLeod grabbed his
coffee mug and walked
around to the porch steps at
the front of the house.
Deborah was standing
behind the screen door.
“Hello, Doug.
“Hi, Deborah. Nice to see
you home safe and sound.