by PETER MITHAM
OTTAWA – Parliament won’t be proceeding
with legislation that many farm organizations
feared would criminalize a variety of livestock
handling practices.
Bill C-246 was a private member’s bill
introduced by Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, the
Liberal MP for Beaches-East York in Toronto.
Designed to improve animal welfare and ban
practices such as shark nning, groups
including the Canadian Pork Council claimed
that it “greatly increases the risk of livestock
producers and companies facing criminal
liability for producing, wholesome aordable
food.”
Much of the fear stemmed from the bill’s
provision that “everyone commits an oence
who, wilfully or recklessly … kills an animal or,
being the owner, permits an animal to be
killed, brutally or viciously.”
MPs and the pork council alike argued the
bill could see farmers and others subject to
court action by animal rights groups for
allowing their animals to be slaughtered.
“They were concerned that there are some
gray areas in the legislation,” says Trevor
Hargreaves, director of producer relations and
communications with the BC Dairy Association.
The concerns led to the bill not receiving
approval for second reading on October 5.
While the association typically leaves federal
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Vol. 102 No. 11
Recognition David Schmidt honoured with lifetime achievement award 3
Peace This could be final harvest for Site C dam opponents 9
Debate Making a case for biosolids on Interior ranches 33
Hazelnut growers have reasons to be optimistic
Animal welfare bill defeated
See ANIMAL page 2
The nal days of fall at a ranch near Houston in BC’s Bulkley Valley. (Tori Long/Pasture Poses Photography)
See HAZELNUT page 3
Filbert growers
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to go but up
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CHILLIWACK – The BC
hazelnut industry has
bottomed out, BC Hazelnut
Growers’ Association director
Thom O’Dell told a large
group of current and potential
new growers at the hazelnut
eld day at Helmut Hooge’s
farm in Chilliwack in
September.
Once ourishing in the
Fraser Valley, hazelnut
growers started falling on
hard times when Eastern
Filbert Blight invaded just over
a decade ago. Since then,
many long-standing orchards
have been removed and the
remainder are heavily infected
with the incurable disease.
Seeing the writing on the
wall, ve (now four) Fraser
Valley growers and one on
Hornby Island worked with
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ANIMAL WELFARE
FROM PAGE 1
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 20162
legislation to Dairy Farmers of
Canada, its national
counterpart, Hargreaves is no
stranger to animal welfare
issues.
He participated personally
in the investigation of
Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd.,
whose owner plans to plead
guilty to charges at a court
appearance scheduled for
December. A total of 20
charges were brought against
the farm, 16 of them under
the province’s Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Act.
Hargreaves maintains,
however, that no amount of
legislation can take the place
of good behaviour.
“You can have all the
legislation that you want, but
what you need is actual
strong industry practices at
the ground level,” he told
Country Life in BC.
Those are something he
believes the BC dairy industry
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“We’ve implemented the
full animal welfare pro-action
protocols and we make sure
that as an industry we’re
moving ever-forward in terms
of animal care standards,” he
said.
Code of practice
Since 2014, dairy farms
across the province have
been expected to comply
with the industry’s seven-
year-old code of practice. The
association worked with the
BC SPCA to incorporate the
code within BC’s animal
welfare legislation, making it
easier to prosecute farmers
who violate animal welfare
standards.
Recent audits of animal
care practices at 73 dairy
farms found that a quarter of
farms were non-compliant,
but Hargreaves said that such
discoveries show that the
industry has a functioning
self-regulation regime. The
same holds true for tests that
saw 11 farms ned $65,000
this summer for sending
antibiotic-laced milk for
processing. While bad on the
part of the farmers, eective
protocols meant that none of
the milk ended up on store
shelves.
“The public perception
tends to be very often leaning
towards knee-jerk reactions
towards the negative, based
on a salacious headline by a
journalist rather than the
actual reality of industry
practices,” Hargreaves said. “If
there weren’t tests in place,
those tests wouldn’t be
positive. … It’s spun as a
negative, but in reality it’s an
outward positive because of
an eective safety system.”
Education
Ongoing education
programs ensure that existing
protocols will continue to
serve industry and consumers
well.
“We have a very strong self-
regulating protocol on animal
welfare,” Hargreaves said. “We
keep it a very topical subject
in terms of our various
conferences and seminars.”
O’Dell to bring in six new EFB-
resistant varieties from
Oregon in tissue culture.
Helped by a grant from the
Investment Agriculture
Foundation of BC, the growers
planted the rst of the new
trees in 2011 and another set
in 2013 in a trial to see how
they would perform.
Hooge is one of the
participants in the trial and
now has 230 Yamhill, 200
Jeerson and 70 Sacajawea
trees as well as a few Eta,
Theta and Gamma pollinators
in his orchard.
“Every fourth tree in every
third row is a pollinator,”
Hooge said.
He stressed the trees are
“resistant” but not immune to
the disease, saying pruning
can keep the disease at bay, if
not eliminate it altogether.
“We started seeing some
EFB in the new trees in 2013,”
O’Dell reported, telling
growers to apply an approved
fungicide on young trees after
bud break and prune out and
burn any aected limbs.
Hooge has followed that
strategy and his new trees
show few signs of EFB despite
being located right next to his
heavily infected Barcelona
orchard.
Both he and O’Dell say they
have already learned a lot
about managing the new
varieties, including how and
when to plant them. That was
obvious in Hooge’s orchard as
the 2013 plantings appear to
be more vigorous and
productive than the 2011
plantings, despite being two
years younger.
Although this has been a
good year for production,
growers wrestled with what to
do with their nuts. Because so
many of the infected orchards
have been uprooted, there
were not enough nuts for
John Vandenbrink, who has
the only remaining
commercial-scale nut dryer in
the area, to run his dryer this
year. Instead, most growers
sent their nuts to Hooge for
drying, used other small-scale
dryers or shipped their nuts to
Oregon for drying.
New growers
In the meantime, O’Dell and
the other BCHGA directors are
doing all they can to interest
new growers.
“We received an agriculture
enhancement grant from the
Abbotsford Foundation and
are partnering with the
University of the Fraser Valley
and a farm in Abbotsford to
make the general public more
aware of hazelnuts,” BCHGA
president Neal Tebrinke said.
O’Dell said hazelnuts are
ideal for small acreages,
claiming “you can
get enough nuts
from two acres to
get your farm
status.”
Denise Parker
of MNP
concurred, saying
hazelnuts could
“help fund a
farming lifestyle”
and preserve
farm status for
capital gains
exemption. She
presented an
enterprise budget prepared in
July 2015 which suggests that
even though growers can
expect losses in the rst three
years, that will
level out as the
orchard comes
into production.
By year 20,
growers will have
generated a total
gross margin of
$40,000 per acre
based on current
prices.
O’Dell believes
prices will only
improve, noting
there is a
“growing
(worldwide) demand for all
nuts.”
There may even be an
option for potential new
growers who are interested in
hazelnuts but may not have
the time or expertise to plant
and/or manage the orchard.
Custom services
James and Anthony Dick,
who have years of experience
growing cedar hedging, are
planting ve acres of
hazelnuts on their own
property this fall and will then
oer that service to other
growers.
“We have the equipment to
prep and plant an orchard
and will purchase harvesting
equipment to oer custom
work services on a per hour
basis,” they said.
HAZELNUT TRIALS
FROM PAGE 1
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NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
3
For over 30 years, David Schmidt’s news and feature stories about BC
agriculture have been gracing the pages of
Country Life in BC
and other
farm publications across the country. In late September, he was
honoured with a lifetime achievement award by his peers at the
Canadian Farm Writers Federation annual convention in Saskatoon.
Write on, Dave! (Allison Finnamore photo)
by TAMARA LEIGH
SASKATOON – Country Life
in BC’s own David Schmidt
was honoured with a lifetime
achievement award in
September by the Canadian
Farm Writers’ Federation
(CFWF). The award recognizes
long-serving members who
have made
outstanding
contributions to the
organization and to
the agricultural
communications or
media industries.
Schmidt has been
a leader within BC’s
farm writing
community for over
30 years. His commitment and
skill as a farm journalist is
recognized and respected
across commodities and
throughout the province.
“No one has written more
words about BC agriculture
than David Schmidt,” says
Cathy Glover, who has worked
with David at Country Life in
BC for the past 17 years. “He is
the face of Country Life in BC
among most of the farm
leaders in this province, and
his reputation as a farm
reporter is second to none.”
Beyond the page, his
commitment to the
revitalization and leadership
of the BC Farm Writers’
Association and the farm
writing community in BC has
been unwavering since he
joined the organization in
1985. Nationally, he served as
president of the CFWF from
1997-99 and spent many years
as the BC representative to
the national board.
“David he has been an
excellent mentor and
longtime contributor to the
BC agriculture media scene.
It’s great to see him get this
level of recognition,” says
CFWF president Crystal
Jorgenson.
David grew up on a mixed
dairy farm in the Fraser Valley,
and has always stayed close to
his roots. He has a degree in
creative writing from the
University of BC and has been
covering agriculture for 31
years. He has won numerous
awards including being
named BC's Agriculturist of
the Year in 2000 by the BC
Institute of Agrologists.
“I don’t do it for the glory
and the honour, but it’s sure
nice to get the recognition,”
says Schmidt, who accepted
the award at the CFWF awards
dinner in Saskatoon. “Most of
the jobs I’ve had over the
years have been through
referrals and people I’ve met
through this group. Even
Country Life in BC was a
referral.”
“One of the things that I
appreciate writing about
agriculture is that I have never
had to compromise my own
values in writing about it,” he
says. “I’ve tried to be fair and
honest. I tried to write for my
audience and maybe that’s
why people are still reading
me. I don’t write for the lady
in downtown Vancouver; I
write for the guy who’s trying
to make a living farming.”
Known for his tremendous
depth of knowledge about
agriculture and local history,
Schmidt has earned the
respect of editors, colleagues
and sources alike.
“In the farming culture of
British Columbia, the words
‘David Schmidt’ and
“agriculture” go hand in
hand,” says Peter Wilding, the
newly retired editor of
Country Life in BC. “David has
always had the respect of
farmers, government
representatives, farm
associations and
colleagues. In the age
of shoddy journalism,
bias and partisanship,
David has
consistently shown
the highest ethical
standards in the
practice of his craft
and has been an
inspiration to many people.
He’s never let us down.”
Despite his years of
experience and continuous
presence at agriculture
events across the province,
Schmidt shows few signs of
slowing down or losing his
passion for agriculture.
“The biggest reward is that
people still want to read my
stories. I must be doing
something right,” he says with
a grin as he trots o to nd
the next scoop.
David Schmidt honoured with
lifetime achievement award
Country Life in BC’s senior writer acclaimed
“NO ONE HAS WRITTEN MORE WORDS
ABOUT BC AGRICULTURE THAN
DAVID SCHMIDT.”
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Publisher Cathy Glover
604-328-3814 . publisher@countrylifeinbc.com
Associate Editor David Schmidt
604-793-9193 . davidschmidt@shaw.ca
Contributing Editors Peter Mitham . Tamara Leigh
news@countrylifeinbc.com
Advertising Sales & Marketing Cathy Glover
sales@countrylifeinbc.com
Production Ass’t: Naomi McGeachy . Thanks, Peter!
www.countrylifeinbc.com
Advertising is accepted on the condition that in the event of a typographical
error, that portion of the advertising space occupied by the erroneous item,
together with reasonable allowance for signature will not be charged, but the
balance of the advertisement will be paid for at the applicable rate. In the
event of a typographical error which advertises goods or services at a wrong
price, such goods or services need not be sold at the advertised price.
Advertising is an offer to sell, and may be withdrawn at any time. All
advertising is accepted subject to publisher’s approval.
All of
Country Life in British Columbia
s content is covered by Canadian
copyright law.
Opinions expressed in signed articles are those of the writer and not
necessarily those of
Country Life in British Columbia
.
Letters are welcome, though they may be edited in the interest of brevity
before publication.
All errors brought to our attention will be corrected.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 20164
BC politics has long had a reputation for colourful
characters: our second premier was Amor de
Cosmos, an advocate for agriculture and
noted eccentric. A generation ago, the
Agricultural Land Reserve was created
under the colourful Dave Barrett, who
didn’t shy from his own self-deprecating
innuendoes when it was suggested his
underwear was as red as his politics.
Perhaps the most colourful politician
in recent memory was agriculture
minister Corky Evans, famous for a
homespun manner that was often as
serious as it was o-script. He famously
lost his teeth in the Legislature while pronouncing
an unparliamentary term for horse dung one
afternoon and during the 1999 World Trade
Organization talks in Seattle, he encouraged
protestors to keep at it – one day, they could be
agriculture ministers, too.
Current agriculture minister Norm Letnick,
however, has become the epitome of the colourful
politician by stripping to his briefs and shearing his
body hair for an application of orchard-patterned
body paint.
Letnick wasn’t trying to draw attention to himself,
however.
Since his ministry has limited funds for marketing,
he was trying to raise awareness of the
government's tax credit for produce
donations by farmers to food banks and
other not-for-prots.
While we applaud the
minister for being a good
sport and would love to ask
Mrs Letnick what she thinks
of dem apples, his behavior
suggests that provincial
under-funding of agriculture
has gone a bit far.
BC has long had a
reputation for funding its
farm sector at a rate that
lags most other provinces and the
minister’s stripped down marketing
strategy underscores the situation.
A government that can’t provide its
own ministers with funding to advertise
programs designed to help citizens
needs to seriously consider its priorities.
Given the $500 million windfall the
province touted earlier this fall, Victoria
has no excuse for not funding existing
programming and telling farmers what’s available.
Agriculture has been a bright light for provincial
exports and there’s an election coming up. Promises
are sure to come. It would be nice to see the
province invest in sectors that are actually
making good.
Letnick’s performance shows that it’s possible for
the farm sector to make do without cash.
Just think what would happen if programming,
extension services and other assistance received a
due share of provincial funding.
The naked truth
It’s all about effective communication
As announced in the October edition, Country Life
in BC has a new publisher. The paper has been sold
for the eighth time in its 102-year existence. That it
has reached this age, is still thriving and has escaped
the clutches of the corporate media makes this
paper an anomaly.
But while 102 years is a remarkable milestone,
age alone is no guarantee of continued success.
(The 141-year history of the Nanaimo Daily Free Press
ended in 2016 when owner Black Press pulled the
plug on the venerable paper.)
No publication exists for more than a hundred
years without a close call and Country Life in BC is no
exception. The timely arrival of publishers willing to
take the helm and change course has kept the
paper o the rocks a couple of times – most recently
in 2000, when it withered to half its current size.
Commitment
It sits in your hands now, thanks largely to the
eorts of now retired publisher Peter Wilding, long
time editor Cathy Glover and veteran writer David
Schmidt. As Glover takes over as Country Life’s
eighth publisher, her and Schmidt’s experience and
commitment should spearhead a seamless
transition.
Country Life in BC is published for a very specic
audience: commercial agriculture in BC. Writing to
its interests allows the paper to focus exclusively on
news and issues that are important to BC farmers
and ranchers. Flip through the paper: it is a nuts and
bolts, meat and potatoes, low frills publication. It is
relevant to the commercial industry and the
businesses supporting it. Check out the advertising:
nuts and bolts, meat and potatoes, commercial ag.
Daunting
This all seems like a pretty straight-forward
formula but there is a big complication to making it
work. It’s all ne and good to focus on BC
agriculture, but it is a daunting task to get BC
agriculture in a single lens. This is a big province and
it has more climatic, geographic and agricultural
diversity than any other in the country. It’s a long
way from kiwis in Saanich to canola in Cecil Lake, or
from 1,900 mm of rain in the Alberni Valley to 153
mm in Ashcroft, or from an average January low of
-17 in Fort St John to +6 in Victoria, or from shell sh
in Sechelt to silage in Sicamous.
The dierences are endless.
Climatic zones in BC range from 2 to 8, including
some that are found nowhere else in the country.
Only 3% of BC’s land area has agricultural potential
and much of that 3% is scattered in valleys
throughout the province. Those valleys are
separated by mountain ranges.
The industry is geographically fragmented,
climatically fragmented and dierentiated by
countless crops and cultural practices. Throw nearly
20,000 farms into the mix and it’s not hard see what
a tall order it is to stay engaged and informed in it
all and communicate what is timely and relevant
every month. Country Life in BC has been doing just
that for more than 100 years and is committed to
carry on and build on that proud tradition.
Communication
While communication is what Country Life is all
about, eective communication is a two way street.
We’re proud of BC agriculture and grateful for the
opportunity to serve it. In order to do that even
better, we need to hear from you. What do you like
or not like about CLBC? What would you like more
of? Less of? What is missing? In the coming weeks
(and months), some of you may be contacted by
telephone to answer a random survey. Please spare
a few minutes to help us understand how we might
improve. If you have something to tell us and you
don’t want to chance the random survey, please
email your thoughts to [publisher@countrylifeinbc].
The Back 40
BOB COLLINS
36 Dale Road, Enderby BC V0E 1V4 . Publication Mail Agreement: 0399159 . GST Reg. No. 86878 7375 . Subscriptions: $1/issue . $18.90/year . $33.60/2 years . $37.80/3 years incl GST
The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915
Vol 102 No 11
Published monthly by Country Life 2000 Ltd.
Food security depends on saving BC’s farmland
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
5
nanced and has limited
enforcement ocers to
monitor all of BC.
In the Blenkinsop Valley, on
the Saanich Peninsula,
however, the Farmland
Protection Coalition
[www.farmlandprotection.ca]
has found success in
addressing the parking of
industrial vehicles on farmland
in an unlikely place: the
nance department. Business
licenses issued by municipal
governments have weight
restrictions. Violators can be
ned and re-issue can be
halted.
Municipal and regional
governments are also
stepping up to create
farmland trusts to protect
farmland by using tax dollars
to acquire farmland, then lease
it back to farmers.
We must remain vigilant.
Monitoring is dicult to do
from an oce and requires
support from the public. If we
all work together, we can
create food security in BC.
Future generations are
counting on us.
Nathalie Chambers is a
restoration ecologist and
co-author of Saving Farmland;
the ght for real food. She and
her husband, David, operate the
27 acre Madrona Farm in
Saanich and grow 106 varieties
of organic produce, supplying
up to 4000 customers and 15
restaurants 12 months a year.
Madrona Farm is protected by
The Land Conservancy of BC.
Many people don’t know
that BC, a world renowned hot
spot of marine and biological
diversity with some of the best
growing conditions in Canada,
is food insecure. In fact, it’s the
most food insecure province
in the country, with the
highest use of food box
programs in Canada. Even the
rocky provinces of New
Brunswick and Newfoundland
are more food secure.
You might be starting to
get suspicious. How can the
most biodiverse province be
food insecure?
The largest obstacle to food
security in BC is the price of
farmland. Speculators value
farmland as residential real
estate, putting it out of reach
of most farmers. This market
failure adds to our collective
food insecurity and denies
farmers access to the land.
This opens up these
irreplaceable lands to non-
farm uses.
The second major obstacle
to food security is the
industrialization of farmland.
Allowing non-permitted
industrial uses to continue on
farmland pollutes soils and
watersheds and further
inates the price of farmland.
Humans are not the only
benefactor of farmland we
need to consider. There are
over 450 species of native bees
in British Columbia, including
35 to 40 species of
bumble bees. The rusty-
patched bumble bee is
the rst bee to make a
federal endangered
species list in North
America. These
pollinators are essential to
agriculture, pollinating 35% of
the food most prominent in
the human diet.
The last remaining high-
value conservation lands in BC
– wildlife corridors, watersheds
and endangered ecosystems –
all run through farmland. If we
are not protecting these
values, ecosystems will suer.
Birds, bees and frogs depend
on these lands.
The Agricultural Land
Commission (ALC) manages
the Agricultural Land Reserve
(ALR). The commission
regulates land uses on around
4.7 million hectares of our
farmland; its basis is a piece of
legislation whose original
vision was that of a land trust.
Lands within the ALR were
to be increased by 30% to
accommodate a growing
population. Sadly, this has
never occurred.
Supporters of the ALR
argue it has slowed the loss of
farmland. However, the
success of the ALR may look
good on paper, with no large
losses, but not all soil is
created equal. Soils taken from
the south and added to north
do not represent a fair deal.
Since the inception of the
ALR, southern BC, the Lower
Mainland, Vancouver Island
and the Okanagan – arguably
home to the best farmland,
with the best climate in
Canada – has experienced a
net loss of more than 35,000
hectares. In 2014, in spite of
massive opposition, our
current government was
successful in dismantling the
ALR. The reserve was broken
up into northern and southern
sections with more relaxed
regulations in the north to
allow oil and gas development
on farmland easier. The Site C
dam project being
championed by our current
government will see 30,000
acres of fertile farmland on the
Peace River ooded for a
project that opponents argue
we do not need. We’ll lose land
that could feed a million
people. We’ll lose a signicant
cultural area and wildlife
habitat for grizzlies and wolves.
Who should you call when
you notice industrial vehicles
and non-permitted uses on
farmland? On the ALC website,
it lists all of the permitted uses
on farmland, and has
complaint forms. This process
is overwhelmed, under-
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 20166
by TAMARA LEIGH
VICTORIA – The City of Surrey and
District of North Saanich were
recognized for Leadership and
Innovation in Agriculture at the Union
of BC Municipalities (UBCM)
Community Excellence Awards in
Victoria, September 29. The awards are
part of a co-operative initiative by the
BC Agriculture Council (BCAC), the BC
Ministry of Agriculture and UBCM to
recognize the important role that
municipalities play in supporting
agriculture.
“Municipal governments are
playing an increasingly important role
when it comes to regulations and
enforcement and supporting the
development of the agriculture and
food industry in their communities,”
says Reg Ens, executive director of
BCAC. “We thought these awards
would be a great way to work with the
province to recognize what
communities were doing in this area.”
The City of Surrey received an
award for their BioPod Initiative, which
aims to stimulate agri-tech
development, provide opportunities
for careers in agriculture and
strengthen the local food system. The
BioPod is a partnership between the
city, the University of the Fraser Valley
(UFV) and the John Volken Academy
(JVA), a Surrey-based addictions
recovery institution.
The high-tech twin greenhouses
provide a test-site for development
and demonstration of new
technologies for the commercial
greenhouse sector. At the same time,
the initiative is providing agricultural
skills training and certication for
students at the academy. The project
is part of the City of Surrey’s
Agricultural Protection and
Enhancement Strategy, with funding
through the Investment Agriculture
Foundation of BC and support from
JVA, Anor Growers and the City of
Surrey.
“It’s all about the partnerships,”
says councillor Mike Starchuk, chair of
the City of Surrey’s Agriculture Food
Security Advisory Committee, sharing
the credit with UFV for bringing the
technology and vision and the John
Volken Academy for their enthusiastic
support and embracing the
opportunity for their students.
“We are proud to receive this kind
of recognition. From the city’s point
of view, we wanted to see what types
of innovation could come out of this
that could be applied here and
elsewhere in the world,” he explains.
“If the BioPod initiative continues to
grow the way it is, it is going to
change an entire industry.”
Sandown
The District of North Saanich was
recognized for its role in the Sandown
Ag council recognizes civic support for farming
Surrey and North Saanich win leadership and innovation awards in agriculture: UBCM
The BioPod Initiative provides agricultural training and research in a demonstration
greenhouse in Surrey and was recognized by the BC Agriculture Council during an awards
ceremony in Victoria this fall. (Photo courtesy of the John Volken Academy)
See SANDOWN page 10
The BC Young Farmers (BCYF) would like to thank our 2016 sponsors.
Your support and generosity is building the next generation of farmers
in BC. Through your support, BCYF held several events for farmers aged
18 to 40 in 2016. These events provided educational material in a social
setting – BCYF members learn important business principles that we
incorporated into the management of the family farm. BCYF events
provide important networking opportunities for BCYF members as
we meet with fellow young farmers, business leaders, and educators.
Without your generous support BCYF would not have been able to hold
events for our members.
On behalf of BCYF Directors and members we thank you and look
forward to working with you in 2017 as we continue to provide
educational and networking opportunities for BCYF members
– the next generation of BC’s farmers.
Our program in 2016 included:
s
A booth at the Pacific Agriculture Show – an opportunity to
promote the work that BCYF does and recruit new members.
s
Sending BCYF members to Vancouver to attend the national
Canadian Young Farmers Forum. An event that exposed BCYF
Directors and future BCYF directors to national agricultural
issues and world-class networking and education opportunities.
BCYF took the lead in organizing a tour of local farms for
conference delegates.
s
Events with local MLAs and MPs – important events to build
connections, attach faces to agriculture, and to discuss challenges
and opportunities facing agriculture and young farmers.
s
Farm tours – BCYF toured local agri-businesses providing
educational and networking opportunities. Our most popular
tours continue to be those that involve hands-on experiences.
s
Farm Fest – a one day event with top notch educational sessions.
These years focus includes diversification of farm finances, retail
food trends and our keynote Elaine Froese speaking on what we
wish our parents understood.
BC Young Farmers Thank Our 2016 Sponsors
BC Young Farmers Thank Our 2016 Sponsors
www.bcyf.ca
You’re Invited to
Farm Fest 2016
Farm Fest 2016
Saturday, November 19
th
UFV Chilliwack Campus
5579 Tyson Road |Trades and Technology
Center Rivers Dining Room.
Doors open at 3pm for registration.
Join fellow young farmers for an
afternoon of educational sessions &
networking. Stay for a social & buffet
dinner, followed by entertainment by our
keynote Elaine Froese speaking on What
We Wish Our Parents Understood.
The event is free.
Please see our website
www.bcyf.ca
for more information and to register.
IRRIGATION
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
7
by PETER MITHAM
VANCOUVER – It’s the kind of help few
farmers can expect to see: Vancity Community
Foundation has bought $150,000 in startup
nancing that Vancouver urban farm operator
SOLEfood Farm Inc. received from Vancity
Credit Union in 2011.
“We own the loan. We’re able to restructure it
in a somewhat more exible way through the
foundation,” explained Derek Gent, executive
director of Vancity Community Foundation. “It
removes the immediate payment burden.”
SOLEfood originally launched in 2009 as an
oshoot of United We Can, a social enterprise
that works with binners and low-income
residents on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.
It became the operating entity of Cultivate
Canada Society, a separate registered charity
chaired by Salt Spring Island farmer Michael
Ableman, in March 2011.
SOLEfood sought and received funding for
expansion from the Radclie Foundation, an
initiative of mining magnate Frank Giustra, and
Vancity, which provided a loan of $250,000.
Over the past ve years, it has also received
more than $750,000 in nancial support from
other charities and issued receipts for more
than $85,000 from donors, according to federal
tax lings. It has also enjoyed access to
municipal properties across Vancouver at
favourable rents. (It pays the city $1 a year for its
site at Main and Terminal, for example.)
Nevertheless, long-term nancial stability has
escaped it. While it managed to accumulate
nancial
assets worth
nearly
$110,000 by
the end of
2015, wages
for the 20 to
25 workers it
employs are a
key expense.
Its charitable
program has
cost it $1.4
million since
2011.
To meet its
operating
expenses,
SOLEfood has
regularly
turned to the
public for
assistance.
A campaign
in 2014 raised
more than
$32,000
towards a goal
of $100,000.
The funds
aimed to support the launch of two retail
operations designed to boost sales and
generate added revenue. (It was donating
excess food to the tune of $22,000 a year at the
time.)
However, the plans fell short of expectations.
“We opened the Granville Island Sole Food
retail store in September of 2014 and closed it
in July of 2015,” Ableman told Country Life in BC.
“The overhead was killing us, the sales within
the food court area where we were located
were weak, and we did not see any way of
resolving what were very foundational
problems.”
Gent hopes a $10 million endowment fund
that Vancity Community Foundation has
launched in tandem with buying the loan will
deliver SOLEfood the long-term nancial
stability it needs.
“They want to put the organization in a
position where they’re not burdened by an
annual fundraising campaign,” Gent said.
“They’re aiming big at this point, and are going
to try and raise as much as possible.”
Gent has pledged to reduce the amount of
SOLEfood’s debt for each dollar contributed; he
said donors have already pledged tens of
thousands.
“What we’ve basically said is, as the
endowment grows – which sits as an asset of
the foundation – we’re willing to write down the
amount of the loan as an asset on our balance
sheet,” Gent said. “We thought if we could
remove the burden and at the same time
increase the incentive for fundraising, that’s
going to put the organization in a stronger
position down the road.”
Gent said the jobs SOLEfood gives people
who might not otherwise have work are part of
its rationale for supporting the venture.
“The objectives of that business are far
beyond just growing food,” he said. “The best-
case scenario is where the business model pays
for all the social benets but those are very hard
to come by. It’s a tough business to make go
just on a pure business basis. I think most
farming is challenging these days.”
Tough row to hoe
SOLEfood isn’t the only urban farmer to nd
urban production a tough row to hoe.
Alterrus Systems Inc. and its subsidiary, Local
Garden
Vancouver
Inc., declared
bankruptcy in
January 2014,
15 months
after
launching a
6,000-square-
foot
greenhouse at
a city-owned
parkade in
downtown
Vancouver.
The liabilities
of the two
companies
totalled $5.3
million, more
than half of
which was
owed to
Vancity Capital
Corp.
During the
Pacic
Agriculture
Show earlier
this year,
speakers at the conference’s rst-ever urban
farming segment spoke of the challenges facing
urban farmers who want to make a social
impact. Nick Hermes, a permaculturist, said a
culture of encouragement had developed that
could celebrate even failed projects.
“Celebrating failure – they’re really into that,”
Hermes said of the growers he works alongside.
However, Chris Thoreau, co-owner of
Vancouver Food Pedalers Co-operative, has
shown that success is possible through careful
management. Thoreau, another beneciary of
Vancity funding, has parlayed the support he’s
received into a greenhouse operation producing
microgreens that rings up revenues of $200,000
a year. That’s enough to support wages for ve
people working seven hours a day.
Urban farm seeks stable financial footing
Statistics Canada
reports that 59% of BC
households grow fruits,
herbs, vegetables or
flowers for their own use.
Now, the BC government
is encouraging the
practice with up to
$250,000 in funding to be
shared among 10
communities for projects
that help residents grow
their own food.
“The goal of Grow Local
BC is to provide a deeper
connection between BC
food, BC communities and
the people who live in
them,” the government
said in announcing the
program at the Union of
BC Municipalities
conference.
“By encouraging British
Columbians to grow their
own fresh fruit and
vegetables, they will help
strengthen local food-
supply security.”
Projects eligible for the
funding include education
initiatives that support
home food production.
This isn’t the first time
the province has stepped
in to encourage home
food production. In 1974,
at the height of the back-
to-the-land movement,
Victoria funded allotment
gardens around the
province to give people
“the opportunity of
getting on the land to
grow their own
vegetables.”
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 20168
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 9
by JONNY WAKEFIELD
FORT ST JOHN – On a
drizzly September afternoon,
Ken and Arlene Boon stood
on a hillside overlooking the
Peace River, detailing what
they’ll lose to the Site C dam.
As president of the Peace
Valley Landowners’
Association, representing
dozens of farmers and
ranchers who will be aected
by the dam’s 83-kilometre
ood zone, Boon has given
this tour many times.
At the bottom of the hill on
a bend in the highway is a
market garden lled with fruit,
vegetables and a rain-soaked
stand of sunowers. Along
the river, a pair of teepees
stand in a hayeld, leftover
from a culture camp Treaty 8
First Nations members held
this summer. On top of one of
the benchlands that line the
area, known as Bear Flat, is the
Boons’ log home construction
business and homestead
where Arlene's family has
lived for three generations.
Now, with a highway
realignment around the
proposed reservoir set to
bisect their land, the Boons
are facing the bleak prospect
of bringing in their last
harvest and ultimately losing
their home.
“We’re losing everything,”
says Arlene. “We’re looking at
having to start over.”
Since former premier
Gordon Campbell revived the
idea of a third Peace River
dam in 2010, the Boons have
been the face of agricultural
opposition to Site C. In the
lead-up to the government’s
decision to green-light the
project, the Boons attended
countless hours of review
panel hearings in Fort St John.
They’ve addressed TV
cameras on the steps of the
Vancouver court house after
legal challenges. Last winter,
they helped lead a protest
camp that blocked
construction for weeks – a
stand that eventually earned
them and six others a court
injunction.
But after years of ghting,
the Boons received their
ocial buyout oer from BC
Hydro in August.
“Seeing an oer and
knowing there’s a deadline, it
is disturbing,” Ken Boon says.
“And it brings a new reality to
where we’re at. It’s a little hard
to take.”
While the Boons have
nothing in writing, their
lawyer says BC Hydro hopes
to have them o their land by
the end of the year. The dam
is scheduled for completion in
2024 but sections of Hwy 29
between Fort St John and
Hudson’s Hope need to be
realigned above the ood
reserve before the river is
diverted. BC Hydro wants to
begin rebuilding eight-and-a-
half kilometres of highway
through Bear Flat early next
year. When contacted,
however, Site C spokesperson
David Conway would not give
a specic date by which the
Boons must leave.
The rst highway crews
appeared on the Boons’
property this summer.
First, it was geotechnical
workers with drilling rigs to
test the soil and rock for the
roadbed – creating a line of
boreholes across the property
just metres from the Boons’
home.
The archaeologists came
next. Parts of the yard have
been transformed into a dig
site, with square-metre
sections cordoned o with
pink and yellow tape. The dig
has turned up hundreds of
pieces of chert, a aky,
obsidian-like rock used by the
region’s early residents for
tool making. Some of the
arrowheads tested positive for
bualo DNA – additional
evidence that the Peace River
valley was a trading hub for
plains and coastal First
Nations.
“There’s a reason why the
homes are all on this stretch
along Bear Flat,” Ken says over
coee at their kitchen table.
“It’s because it makes sense to
build homes on these
benches. They all have good
springs, and we’re not
disturbing good farmland.
That’s the same reason the
archaeologists are nding so
much here – because it’s been
a desirable place for man to
live for 10,000 years – and
Hydro wants to put a road
right through it.”
In September, the Boons
This could be final harvest for Site C dam opponents
With a deadline to leave their land
looming, Peace Valley farmers Ken
and Arlene Boon may realize their
farming days are over years before
the waters rise
are dividing time between
harvesting their crops and
nding a new place to live.
Driven down land values
Since BC Hydro rst
proposed Site C in the 1970s,
farming in the valley has
been, in part, an act of
deance. BC Hydro and the
Crown own 93% of the land in
the ood reserve, which has
driven down land values and
discouraged large-scale
agriculture in the valley.
According to the Joint Review
Ken and Arlene Boon stand over Hip Peace Produce, a market garden that operates on their property at
Bear Flat. With Hwy 29 set to be realigned through the centre of their property, the Boons are bringing in
what could be their last harvest. (Photo Jonny Wakeeld/Alaska Highway News)
SEE LAST HARVEST PAGE 10
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201610
LAST HARVEST
FROM PAGE 9
SANDOWN
FROM PAGE 6
Panel appointed to scrutinize the project, agriculture in the
valley generates just $220,000 a year. Those who do farm along
the Peace enjoy long daylight hours in the summer, rich alluvial
soils and warmer temperatures than farms at higher elevations
around Dawson Creek and Fort St John.
Around 30 residents of the valley will be directly aected by
Site C according to BC Hydro, either by highway realignment or
the ooding itself. Of those, ten will likely have to move from
their homes or rebuild them elsewhere on the property. BC
Hydro says it will pay “fair market value” for the land – a
concept which Ken says is practically non-existent in an area
that has, for decades, been set aside for a reservoir.
Keeping up the fight
The Boons are intent on keeping up the ght against the
dam. They say it’s an unnecessary, outdated mega-project that
will destroy good farmland and infringe on First Nations treaty
rights. BC Hydro, meanwhile, says its electricity system will face
an eight per cent shortfall in capacity in ten years without
Site C.
Whenever the prospect of BC Hydro’s buyout comes up, Ken
talks about buy-back clauses if a court case or change in
government derails the project. He says he hopes he’ll never
see a cent of the money.
But the rst summer of work on their farm has already taken
a toll. Arlene’s mother, who lived in a converted school house
on the property, recently moved to an apartment in Fort St
John to escape construction.
If the Boons are forced from the property, they have options
to stay in the valley on other family land. But if the river they
love becomes a reservoir, would they want to?
“Every direction you look here, these hills are anticipated to
slide (into the river)," Ken says. “We won’t know for many years
what this valley is going to look like. It might be just a real ugly
sloughed-in slough. So we’re being expected to make
decisions now without knowledge of what it will look like.
Would we really want to stay in the valley?”
Jonny Wakeeld is a reporter for the Alaska Highway News and
Dawson Creek Mirror.
Ken Boon walks past an archaeological site on his property, part of mitigation work for the Site C dam.
(Jonny Wakeeld/Alaska Highway News photo)
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the 96-acre parcel
opened discussions about
development options for the
land, the district negotiated
an agreement that will see 12
acres removed from the
Agricultural Land Reserve for
commercial development and
the remaining 84 acres
returned to the community
for agricultural use.
“Often, redevelopment is
about maximizing the highest
and best use of the land,”
explains Rob Buchan, chief
administrative ocer for the
District of North Saanich, who
was the lead planner on the
project at the time. “Going
back to agriculture is counter
to that general trend.”
The award recognized the
eorts of the District of North
Saanich to including farmers in
their planning process for the
Sandown lands project and
the resulting commitment to
develop agriculture resources
on the majority of the original
area.
In order to develop a shared
vision for the future of the site,
the district enlisted the
assistance of the Capital
Regional Food and Agriculture
Initiative Roundtable (CR-FAIR)
to host a series of community
outreach events and ensure
the input from the hundreds
of participants in the process
contributes to determining
the future agricultural uses of
the site and enhancing
agricultural opportunities in
the district.
Work on the Sandown
redevelopment project is still
in process. The land owners
have recently submitted their
development applications and
work remains to be done to
return the land to agricultural
production but, with the
community fully behind the
project and the recognition of
the work, Buchan is hopeful as
the project moves forward.
“It’s a very positive thing to
be recognized for doing
something well,” he says. “It’s
meaningful to the community,
and is nice to have an outside
organization and peers say
this is award-worthy.”
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NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 11
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Kelowna cracking down on land reserve abuse
neighbour.” You go back
through the air photos of the
property and you realize it’s a
farm, but now it’s an RV park.
“Not only has the footprint
of the RV park expanded but
the rest of the property is not
being farmed because there is
too much revenue generated
at the RV park and there is not
the motivation to farm.
“About ve years ago, we
started to make sure that
farming was the primary
activity on the property and
started targeting the abusers,”
Cashin explains. “We have
been in court dealing with a
number of these.”
“It is supposed to be
seasonal; it’s supposed to be
for tourists, not permanent; it
can’t become low-income
housing. You have to watch
the footprint; it can’t take over
the property,” Cashin says. “But
more important than anything
else, you’ve got to farm. You
can’t have agri-tourism without
agri; it just doesn’t work.”
Cashin acknowledges that
several older RV parks closer to
the lake have been turned into
condos.
“Council wonders if maybe
we should be looking at lands
on the outskirts of town and
specically zoning them for
new RV parks.”
It’s a popular spot for
wealthy folks who are not used
to being told no.
“Some just don’t care. All
they want is their 8,000 square
foot home in the middle of an
orchard,” says Cashin. “And it
doesn’t help that the realtor
has told them they can build a
by TOM WALKER
KELOWNA – Todd Cashin is
the person in charge of
keeping agriculture in
Kelowna’s Agriculture Land
Reserve. With 50% of the city
zoned A-1 (agriculture), it’s a
busy job but Cashin doesn’t
have to go it alone. He is
supported by Kelowna city
council and a strong
Agriculture Advisory
Committee.
“Kelowna is full of
entrepreneurs,” explains
Cashin, the suburban and rural
planning manager at Kelowna
City Hall. It’s this drive, plus
opportunity, that causes
problems with A-1 land within
city limits.
“You see guys getting into
the construction industry or
landscaping and maybe they
can’t aord industrial
commercial space. So, they
start leasing cheaper farm land
and running the business out
of their house,” says Cashin.
“By year ve, all the guys are
mustering on that property at
7 am creating noise,
compacting soil, maybe
stripping and selling the soil
and starting to store
equipment and materials.”
Cashin says they are seeing
an increase in those situations.
“So, we decided we were
going to target one area and
try and get the community to
buy in.”
“We went to council with
what we call the Benvoulin
Corridor Agriculture
Compliance Strategy, told
them we were going to be fair
but rm. But this was the
problem.”
Cashin says they are looking
at individual cases and trying
to work with businesses to be
compliant.
“We really want to minimize
non-farm use. If you want to
have a small business which
we can support, construction
or landscaping can’t be your
primary use.”
Council recently turned
down an application for non-
farm use. The property had
been leased since 2003 and
had expanded as a landscape
and irrigation business.
Kelowna mayor Collin
Basran summarized council’s
position.
“I recognize you are trying
to take some measures to
bring it up to compliance by
planting more nursery stock
and make it more of a farm
venture," he was quoted as
saying. "But this to me is clearly
what we are trying to stop in
our community." Council
refused to forward the
application to the Agricultural
Land Commission (ALC). The
applicant was sent back to
work with city sta to make
the operation compliant.
A second thorn in Cashin’s
side comes from RV parks.
“We were seeing RV parks
popping up or people
enquiring saying, “I want to
build an RV park like my
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Farming needs to be primary use or else ...
second residence on the
property. “
“I’m meeting with a woman
who has a built a carriage
house on her million-dollar
property,” he says. “Our
paperwork says she applied to
build worker housing and now
she and the real estate agent
are mad at me. It’s not right
that we become the bad guys.”
The Agriculture Advisory
Committee (AAC) is a huge
part of the process. Cashin says
their level of expertise has
really helped.
“We re-structured the
committee so we look for
someone with a soil
background, someone with an
irrigation background and we
are always looking for an
orchardist.”
The AAC knows what’s
going on in the community
and they know about agri-
business.
“They can’t be BS’d,” says
Cashin. “Applicants used to
say, “It’s impossible for me to
farm.” and the committee
would say, “Oh well, okay; it’s
impossible to farm.” Now, they
are asking tougher questions.
There are people out there
who do very well at farming in
our community.”
Experience with wetlands 15
years ago gave Cashin a model
to follow.
“Filling in wetlands used to
be the thing to do and
although we had awesome
policy in place, I couldn’t be
an enviro-cop. It wasn’t until
we got community buy-in that
we started to see success,” he
recalls. “Nowadays, if you see
See ABUSE page 12
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201612
For additional funding
opportunities and
information:
T 250.356.1662
E funding@iafbc.ca
W iafbc.ca
facebook.com/InvestAgBC
twitter.com/iafbc
PR
O
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Making an impact in B.C.’s agriculture
and agri-food industry for 20 years.
iafbc.ca/impactiafbc.ca/impact
The Investment A
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riculture Foundation o
f
B.C. has been deliverin
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g
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f
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to B.C.’s a
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1996. To
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innovations
a
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local and international sales o
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p
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For more in
f
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I
m
p
act Assessment o
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Government Fundin
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D
elivered b
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the B.C. Investment A
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B
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G
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of
Ha
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B.C.
G
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B
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“We have man
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America, standin
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wishin
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J
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the
BC Cranberr
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Marketin
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Commission s
p
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IAF delivered
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FUNDING
OPPORTUNITIES
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NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 13
Fruit growers oered
incentive to improve food
safety training
by TOM WALKER
KELOWNA – Members of
the BC Fruit Growers
Association (BCFGA) will get
an incentive to help cover the
costs of participating in food
safety programs thanks to a
recent dividend from
Summerland Varieties
Corporation (SVC), a wholly
owned subsidiary of the
BCFGA.
As growers themselves, the
BCFGA executive has direct
experience with food safety
programs.
“We know the cost, eort
and occasional frustration of
implementing food safety
programs on the farm,” says
BCFGA president Fred Steele.
“At the same time we
recognize the benet of food
safety in giving condence
and promoting our apples,
cherries and soft fruit.”
BCFGA members will
receive a one time payment of
$425 to help cover the costs
of enrolling in a food safety
program such as CanadaGAP
(Good Agriculture Practices).
“We feel that giving the
grower a one-time break by
providing an incentive will
strengthen our industry’s
commitment to food safety,”
says Steele.
Costs for a program like
GAP can range for $425 (the
minimum yearly fee for
members of BC Tree Fruit Co-
operative under a group plan)
to several thousand dollars
per year paid to other
accrediting bodies. Programs
also require signicant
amounts of time and often
lead to changes to farm
practices and record keeping.
While a grower will have toilet
facilities, a new certication
ABUSE From page 12
Worst nightmare
any kind of equipment
working around a wetland,
people are on the phone.”
“For the most part, it is
really just changing the
culture,” says Cashin.
“Reminding people that these
beautiful vistas we see is farm
land and it’s what makes
Kelowna great.”
Kelowna is in the midst of
drawing up a new agriculture
plan and Cashin says that will
help with the “culture” he
talks about.
“Absolutely something has
got to change or we aren’t
going to be a farm
community. It’s just going to
be estate lot after estate lot
with somebody mowing
$2,500 worth of alfalfa every
year just to keep the farm
status,” he warns. ”If that is
what we want to do, great,
but I don’t think that’s what
our community needs in the
future. We need local food.”
DEALER INFO AREA
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ABBOTSFORD – Farmers in
the Fraser Valley will have an
opportunity to receive
valuable information on a
range of water-related topics
by attending the Fraser Valley
Agricultural Water
Management Symposium on
Thursday, November 17.
This free event will provide
information about how to
optimize water use and
improve drainage.
“The workshop is unique as
it will include information on
all aspects of agricultural
water management, from
supply to irrigation and
drainage, and there will be
break-out sessions featuring
specic information for berry
growers, landscape and
nursery operations and the
dairy sector,” says Emily
MacNair, manager of the BC
Agriculture & Food Climate
Action Initiative. The
workshop is identied as a
priority project in the Fraser
Valley Adaptation Strategies
plan, released in the summer
of 2015. During the
development of the plan,
producers highlighted
information gaps around the
future of agricultural water in
the Fraser Valley and raised
concerns about the changing
regulatory context governing
water use, as well as the ways
that climate change might
inuence both supply and
demand of water during the
agricultural production
season.
Producers can register for
the workshop online at:
[https://fraservalleyagricultura
lwater.eventbrite.ca].
Funding for this workshop
is provided in part by the
governments of Canada and
British Columbia through the
Investment Agriculture
Foundation of BC and the BC
Agricultural Research &
Development Corporation
under Growing Forward 2, a
federal-provincial-territorial
initiative.
Water workshop for farmers
Fire crews were still mopping up after an early morning barn re just hours before the farm was set
to host the North Okanagan Plowing Match in Armstrong, October 1. No one and no livestock was hurt
in the re that destroyed one barn. (Naomi McGeachy photo)
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201614
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by PETER MITHAM
VICTORIA – Strong
revenues in the agri-food
sector are putting more cash
in the pockets of BC farmers,
claims the province, and that’s
translating into fewer
bankruptcies among farm
businesses.
Touting record agri-food
sector revenues of $13 billion
in 2015, BC agriculture
minister Norm Letnick says
the sector is economically
strong.
While an August report
from Farm Credit Canada
warned that limited liquidity
leaves BC farms vulnerable to
shifts in markets, Letnick
believes dierently.
The increase in net cash
income that the agriculture
sector saw in 2015 is a case in
point. It rose 21.5% in 2015 to
$440.1 million, up from $362.3
million in 2014.
“Our farmers, our ranchers,
our producers, our shers
were able to pocket $440
million,” he said. “This record
increase of over 20% since
2014 means more jobs, more
revenue for BC farmers,
ranchers and shers, more
prots and strengthens BC’s
food security.”
Good news story
Statistics from the federal
Oce of the Superintendent
of Bankruptcy bear out that
good-news story.
Just three businesses in the
general grouping of
“agriculture, forestry, shing
and hunting” declared
bankruptcy in 2015, down
from 39 in 2008.
Sector bankruptcies have
been in the single digits for
the past ve years, and below
40 since 2007.
The shift coincides with a
decade in which overall net
farm income after
depreciation has been largely
negative. This isn’t necessarily
a sign of greater scal
discipline on the part of
producers, but rather stronger
farm cash receipts and steady
investments in technology.
“There’s been increased
investment on equipment and
technology so, as a result,
costs have shrunk as a result
of eciencies, so the balance
sheet is healthier – in general
– across the board,” Yan-Yan
Lee, an accountant and farm
business advisor based in
Vancouver, said.
by TAMARA LEIGH
DUNCAN – The wait for a
new regional agrologist to
serve the south island is over.
Derek Masselink will ll the
position with the BC Ministry
of Agriculture, taking regional
responsibility for Vancouver
Island from Victoria up to
Ladysmith and across to Port
Renfrew, as well as the
southern Gulf Islands.
Masselink got his start in
agriculture spearheading the
UBC Farm initiative and has
spent the past 13 years
working in the south island
area as a consultant on
individual farm plans, working
with municipalities on
agriculture-related planning
issues, as well as a number of
agriculture area plans around
the province.
He brings a
diverse skill set to
the position,
including a
background in
wildlife ecology,
landscape
architecture and
agroecology.
Derek has worked
in a wide variety
of areas including:
protected areas
planning, First
Nations and treaty
negotiation, landscape
planning and management;
agroecology and agricultural
design; education for
Canada’s strengthening
dollar following the nancial
crisis allowed farmers to
import equipment at an
advantage; meanwhile, the
reversal in the loonie’s
fortunes in the past three
years has made exports a
more lucrative area of
business.
Meanwhile, a consumer
preference for local foods has
created market opportunities
for many growers. Many now
add value to their products,
helping them secure more
value than they used to see.
This has helped cash ow
and in turn kept bankruptcies
low.
“It comes about two ways –
increased revenues or
decreased costs,” Lee said of
the improved nances that
have kept farmers back from
the brink. “In this case, it was
a combination of both.”
Agri-food bankruptcies remain on low side
sustainability; governance;
community development; and
organizational
and project
management.
“What I’ve
been focused on
since leaving UBC
is establishing
connections
between people
who aren’t
interested and
concerned with
agriculture and
those that are
trying to make a
living running
farms and farm systems,” says
Masselink. “I’m interested in
how to bring people together
to understand the challenges,
and developing an
appreciation of what
agriculture can be in
communities.”
“I feel very fortunate to be
able to work with a
community that I really love
and respect,” he adds.
New superintendent
Chris Zabek, regional
agrologist for Fraser Valley
North, has taken on
responsibility as
Superintendent of Farmers’
Institutes. He took on the
additional role in March this
year following the retirement
of Greg Taggart.
The Superintendent of
Farmers’ Institutes is
appointed under the Farmers’
and Womens’ Institutes Act to
carry out administrative
functions under the act,
including incorporation of
new farmers’ institutes,
changes to bylaws or
constitutions and receiving
annual reports and nancial
statements.
“Taking on this role was
interesting to me partially
because my work as a regional
agrologist brings me into
contact with people involved
in farmers institutes, and they
are so passionate,” says Zabek.
“These people live and
breathe agriculture, and want
to do the best for agriculture.
You can’t help but bump up
against that attitude and be
inspired by it.”
Familiar faces in new roles at ministry
DAVE MASSELINK
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 15
Winter has come early for Peace River grain farmers. (Photo courtesy of Irmi Critcher)
by TAMARA LEIGH
DAWSON CREEK – Farmers
in the Peace woke up to white
elds on October 1, creating a
harvest headache for
everyone with crops still
standing.
“It’s winter up here,” says
Irmi Critcher, who is usually
combining in early October.
“The season has shifted by a
month. We were in the eld
early in April, and now we
have a dump of snow in
October.”
Weather patterns during
the harvest season have been
extremely wet, starting with a
major rainfall in early
September that soaked the
elds just when the rst crops
were ready for harvest.
“It was very disappointing.
We had a really beautiful crop
this summer. We had heavy
rain in June, but the crop was
at a stage where it could
handle it,” Critcher explains.
“With the cold, wet weather
this fall, there’s going to be a
lot of wheat around that could
have been #1 milling wheat
but will end up as feed.”
The early snowfall is
keeping BC Ministry of
Agriculture’s Production
Insurance team busy.
“We’re not thinking it’s a
complete disaster at this
point,” says Lonny Steward,
manager for Business Risk
Management. “Overall, the
Peace harvest is way above
average this year. They were
looking at a really good year
and have lost the top end of
their yield that would help
them be successful.”
“The ones that have a
majority of acres snowed
under could result in claims
but we aren’t sure yet if those
acres can be salvaged later
this fall or in the spring,” he
adds.
The production insurance
team is processing
notications from producers
and will be inspecting farms
with severe losses and
working with farmers to
establish what their yields
could be in the coming weeks.
Steward says some crops,
like canola, may be able to
overwinter and harvest
successfully in the spring. Less
resilient crops, like peas, are
expected to be a total loss.
“Where we’re expecting the
biggest loss is on oats north of
Fort St John. Those crops are
probably the most severely
aected,” he adds.
For many who grow on
contract, including Critcher,
downgrades in quality may
leave them looking for new
markets.
“Dierent companies
handle it dierently. Some
companies roll the contract
forward to the next year so
you can grow the crop again
and see whether you can
meet the criteria. Other
companies honour the
contract and let you deliver
your crop but give a huge
discount on price because
you didn’t meet the quality
specs,” she explains.
“The other thing we are
doing is looking for brokers
that specically handle feed
grain. We don’t want to be
stuck going into next year
with feed grain in the bins,”
adds Critcher.
Production insurance may
oer some relief for the
quality loss through their
minimum grade guarantee.
“All of our crops oer a
minimum grade guarantee. If
the grade falls below the
guarantee, we’ll convert the
value of the quality loss into
yield and pay out that way,”
say Steward.
Using red wheat as an
example, he explains that
production insurance will look
at the price dierence
between the specied
minimum grade (No. 3) and
feed wheat. If the dierence is
15%, then the total yield for
that crop will be reduced by
15%, and they will pay a larger
claim.
While there will be some
growers with severe losses,
overall Steward expects that
many of the farmers in the
Peace will either have
managed to get a good
portion of their crop in
already, or will nd a way to
get it o and recover some
value.
“Peace region farmers are
some of the most progressive
and aggressive farmers in the
country for being able to
harvest their crop quickly,”
says Steward respectfully,
noting that many have
invested in grain driers and
special equipment for working
in wet conditions. “If there’s
any possible way to get the
crop in, they’ll get it in.”
“The incredible eorts they
make to get crops in quickly
have probably minimized the
losses this snow has caused.
They manage a lot of their
own risk, and when they have
disasters, production
insurance is in place to help.”
Early snow downgrades harvest in the Peace
by TAMARA LEIGH
DAWSON CREEK – Extreme
weather events in the Peace
seem to be the norm this year.
Heavy rains in June caused
catastrophic ooding in
Dawson Creek, Chetwynd,
Pouce Coupe and Fort St
John, washing out bridges
and roads and leaving many
rural residents cut o from the
rest of the province.
The provincial government
has announced a $2.5 million
investment to help the Peace
River Regional District with
mitigation work to reduce the
risk of ooding in the future. It
is hoped that the work,
including debris removal,
re-sloping and re-vegetation,
will be completed before the
winter freeze.
The $2.5 million is in
addition to close to $1 million
provided to individuals and
approximately $4 million
expected to be paid out to
local governments in the
PRRD through the provincial
Disaster Financial Assistance
program following the oods
in June.
The total estimated cost of
damages from the June
Peace River rainfall event
could reach close to $100
million.
Production insurance adjusters
are still assessing losses
$2.5 million invested in Peace flood prevention
MK Martin’s Pull Type
snowblowers connect to your
tractor’s 3PH. The hitch facing
design allows you to drive
straight forward pulling the
hitch instead of backing it
into the snow, allowing you to
easily guide the blower around
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no longer have to keep looking
over your shoulder when
blowing snow or driving into a
cloud of blown snow.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201616
Sam Bourgeois, Agvocate
Apple Producer
We know the work we
put in to grow safe,
healthy food. Were
the ones who should
tell our story.”
Learn more at AgMoreThanEver.ca.
Be somebody who does something.
Be an agvocate.
Misplaced priorities
Re: Port development trumps BC
agriculture (October 2016)
I was extremely disheartened to
read the federal minister of
agriculture’s comments.
Sadly, the minister has prioritized
the industrialization of the Fraser River
delta over the protection of Canada’s
most productive agricultural land.
One has to wonder where the
minister thinks future farm exports will
come from if we continue to pave over
local topsoil.
In my riding of Delta South, we
know these pressures all too well. The
Port of Vancouver’s position that local
agriculture is “almost meaningless”
and that the port has “supremacy”
over the farmland protection laws of
our province has long been cause for
concern.
The minister’s comments make our
continuing ght to protect 1,500 acres
of Delta farmland from industrialization
by the port completely meaningless.
Vicki Huntington
MLA Delta South
Ottawa misled by port
It is alarming that the new Liberal
government of Canada is being
completely misled by the Port of
Vancouver. It is dicult to believe the
statement by the federal Minister of
Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay, in
reference to BC agricultural land
protected by the provincial
Agricultural Land Reserve: “Lower
Mainland farmland could be sacriced
to ensure agri-food exports can move
to market quickly and eciently.”
Canada wants to increase export-
ready agri-food exports to China and
other Asian countries. It is ironic that
the Port of Vancouver claims it needs
to industrialize Canada’s best farmland
in order to export agricultural
products.
There is no evidence to support the
claim that we need to industrialize
farmland. This is a ploy by the Port of
Vancouver to expand its real estate
holdings, which will enrich the Crown
corporation and associates. It has
nothing to do with sensible port
business.
Exporting agricultural products has
been, and continues to be, important
to the Canadian economy. It can
continue without using precious BC
farmland.
The largest increase in agricultural
exports is from wheat and other grains
which are being accommodated by a
massive new grain terminal in North
Vancouver.
In terms of processed foods, which
were stressed in the article, Vancouver
exported 20% more tonnage in 2010
than in 2015.
Fraser Surrey Docks is a wonderful
terminal with a large stretch of
industrial land which is ideal for the
export of specialty crops and
processed foods. The current plans for
funneling dirty US thermal coal
through this great site are
uneconomical and a waste of our
precious port lands.
The prime minister and federal
ministers of agriculture, transport,
natural resources, environment,
sheries and trade don’t seem to be
aware that they are being duped by
the Port of Vancouver. Isn’t it time to
stop listening to paid lobbyists and
old guard civil servants and advisors?
Isn’t it time to listen to public
concerns about protecting the
“ecosystems of the Fraser River delta,
which interactively support the
world’s best salmon river, Canada’s
rich farmland and Canada’s most
important bird area for shorebirds,
waterfowl and birds of prey?
Susan Jones
Delta
Self-interest wins
Peter Mitham’s article in the
October issue regarding export
growth contains astonishing
statements: [Port authority president
and CEO Robin] Silvester believes local
agriculture is “almost meaningless”
when it comes to local food security,
which, coupled with [Silvester’s]
arrogant pronouncement that the Port
authority has “supremacy” over the
Agricultural Land Reserve, is an
outrageous expression of self-interest,
ignorance of the potential of our local
growers, and a frightening abdication
of our need to take more control of
our local food supply and agricultural
sector.
[Silvester’s] view is “screw local
production, access to quality food
products, food security,” and just ship
it all away and be utterly dependent
on fragile import sources.
Port authority and its self-interested
agenda wins in this scenario; future
generations of Canadians lose.
Mark Pigott
Kelowna
Letters
Minister’s comment doesn’t sit well with readers
Whoops!
The toll-free number for
BC Cattlemens that appeared in
our “New guide simplies well
licencing” story on page 9 of the
October edition was incorrect. The
correct number is 1-877-688-2333.
We apologize for the error.
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 17
by PETER MITHAM
ABBOTSFORD – BC agri-
food exports hit a record high
in 2015, with mushrooms
second only to blueberries
among the top fresh produce
items shipped overseas.
But mushroom production
is a dangerous business, as the
2008 deaths of three workers
at A-1 Mushroom Substratum
Ltd. in Langley highlighted.
(Two other workers were left
with permanent brain damage
following exposure to
hydrogen sulde in the
incident.) More recently, two
farms and a composting
facility owned by Abbotsford
grower Huu Quach hit the
news in September over
safety violations.
Yet the headlines obscure
the fact that farm safety, for
the most part, has improved in
step with productivity. While
farmers have made signicant
investments in equipment to
cut labour costs, they’ve also
taken steps with the help of
WorkSafeBC and AgSafe
(formerly FARSHA, the Farm
and Ranch Health and Safety
Association) to mitigate on-
farm risks.
Claims for serious injuries
have averaged 0.6 per 100
workers in the past ve years,
while overall injury claims
have averaged 2.6 over the
same period.
The sector’s average is
slightly higher than the BC
average, but the stable rate of
injuries show that matters
haven’t gotten worse. That’s
partly a result of training by
AgSafe, which trains workers’
to recognize potential risks.
“We do the safety training,”
says Wendy Bennett,
executive director of AgSafe.
“We’re not teaching people
how to operate. We’re
teaching them to make sure
that they’re looking at all the
safety pieces.”
This is especially important
as mechanization increases.
“We have had a huge
demand, and it’s primarily for
equipment safety training –
so, forklifts and tractors,” she
says. “Those are the two that
we end up doing a lot of.
Tractors, statistically,
throughout North America,
are responsible for the
majority of fatalities in some
way, shape or form.”
The number of equipment
incidents are what prompted
WorkSafeBC to focus on
awareness initiatives
specically designed for the
agriculture sector.
“We were seeing a lot of
serious injuries resulting from
the use of machinery in the
agriculture industry. We’re
trying to bring some
education around that,” Doug
Pasco, an industry specialist at
WorkSafeBC assisting the
agriculture sector, says. “We’ve
partnered with some
equipment dealerships to
bring that information out
there. We also partner with
AgSafe.”
AgSafe provides the hands-
on training that is beyond the
mandate of WorkSafeBC, a
regulatory agency that
engages in inspections,
investigations and
compensation programs.
This year, a particular focus
has been ladder safety, a
campaign originally
developed for the
construction sector but
reoriented to farmers because
of the signicant number of
incidents involving falls from
heights.
Second only to
overexertion, falls from
heights account for 15% of
claims. When coupled with
falls at grade, tumbles account
for 29% of injury claims. By
comparison, workers caught
in, struck by, or otherwise
engaged with a vehicle or
Stocking
up
SURREY A farmer is dead following an
accident involving equipment in Surrey on
October 6. Kenneth Mark Nootebos, aged 51,
of Surrey was part of a crew working on a
mechanical beet-harvesting project on a
vegetable farm located at 15675 40 Avenue.
According to the BC Coroners Service,
Nootebos became entrapped in some of the
machinery. He was deceased at the scene
“WorkSafeBC fatal and serious injury ocers
and prevention eld ocers are standing by,
ready to investigate once the RCMP and
coroner are nished with their investigation,”
reported Scott Money, a spokesperson for
WorkSafeBC.
The incident followed the serious injury in
September of an orchardist who suered
multiple broken bones in his upper and lower
body when he started a tractor that was still in
gear.
“The worker was run over,” WorkSafeBC
reports, bluntly.
BC farms stay focused on
safety as productivity surges
Injuries are costly in many ways
Worker dies on Surrey farm
Cranberries were $2 a
pound at this year’s
Cranberry Festival in
historic Fort Langley.
According to
government stats,
only 1% of BC’s
cranberry crop is sold
fresh. 50% is used to
make sweetened
dried cranberries,
40% is made into
juice and 9% is sold
whole frozen. The
one day annual event
attracts up to 60,000
visitors to the
shopping district.
(Photo courtesy of
Cranberries
Naturally)
See SAFETY page 18
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The new BC Water Sustainability Act (WSA)
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wells used for any purpose other than single
family use require a license under the WSA.
Avoid the application fee by licensing before
March 1 2017.
If you have questions we can help.
250-585-0802 (Direct)
1-844-585-0802 (Toll Free)
wsa@waterlineresources.com
Vancouver, Nanaimo, Victoria, Calgary
www.waterlineresources.com
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201618
BC agriculture minister Norm Letnick created quite the buzz last month when he had his body painted
and posed in a Kelowna apple orchard to generate awareness for the farmers’ food donation tax credit.
The tax break is offered to farmers who donate agricultural products to registered charities like food
banks or school meal programs. (Photo courtesy of BCMA)
A Firsthand
Understanding
Of Your Familys
Wealth Priorities
Mark Driediger, CFP, Senior Wealth Advisor
Assante Financial Management Ltd.
www.MarkDriediger.com | (604) 859-4890
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Customized Portfolio Strategy
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Please visit www.assante.com/legal.jsp or contact Assante at 1-800-268-3200 for information with respect
to important legal and regulatory disclosures relating to this notice.
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SUPPLIERS OF CANADIAN MADE BIG O DRAINAGE TUBING
equipment account for 26% of
accidents.
Orchardists have been a
particular focus for the
campaign, thanks to wet
weather this year that made
harvest conditions more
hazardous.
“There was so much more
weather this year than there
had been the year prior that
many more people had the
ladder slip or the rungs were
wet,” Bennett says. “A lot of
additional precautions would
have had to have been taken.
And some did and some
didn’t.”
WorkSafeBC lists just two
ladder-related investigations
in the orchard sector this year
on its site: one from February,
in which a pruner fell from the
seventh step of a nine-foot
ladder, and another in July
when a ladder toppled while
being relocated.
“We had a discussion with
[the BC Fruit Growers’
Association] in the summer
because we take a look at
trends and see what’s
happening,” Pasco says.
“We’ve noticed that
approximately 40% of their
injuries are coming from falls
from elevation and we
wanted to highlight that for
them.”
BCFGA sta have since
drawn the issue to members’
attention, pointing out that
fewer accidents mean fewer
claims and lower premiums.
Over the past decade,
premiums have dropped from
2.7% to 1.55%, and the
association wants it to stay
that way.
“If ladder safety accident
rates are not improved, it is
possible that rates could go as
high as 3.5%, which is three
times the current premium
rate,” a recent newsletter
warned. That could cost
orchardists an extra $200 to
$2,000 a year in premiums.
BCFGA is working to
determine if particular crops,
such as cherries, are more
susceptible to accidents
involving ladders to pinpoint
where training eorts should
focus.
“It’s really early stages,”
Pasco said. “But it is an area
where they could be proactive
in.”
SAFETY
FROM PAGE 17
VICTORIA – The Certied
Organic Associations of BC
(COABC) is leading the
development of a new on-line
system will help new entrants
achieve certied organic
status.
COABC will conduct
consultations and outreach
with growers and
stakeholders over the coming
months to ensure that the
project considers stakeholder
needs. The system will save
farmers time through a more
ecient and streamlined
process and also be used as a
source for sector-wide data to
help provide ongoing,
reliable, up-to-date statistics
about the sector.
The accurate data will
better indicate the
opportunities within the
organic sector for new and
expanding growers and
support the planning of
business growth and
increased revenues. The data
will also be used to help
identify opportunities in
value-added food production
and encourage strategic
growth.
A pilot of the system will
launch in 2017 with full
implementation scheduled for
January 2018 when the BC
government will require all
food and beverage products
marketed as "organic" in BC to
be certied under either a
provincial or national
certication program.
The project has
received $117,000 in
funding from the
governments of
Canada and British
Columbia delivered
through programs oered by
the Investment Agriculture
Foundation of BC.
Tamara Leigh
Fourth ode is a wrap
MAPLE RIDGE – The BC
Association of Farmers’
Markets held its fourth annual
Ode to a Farmer poetry
contest to celebrate Farmers’
Appreciation Week
September 12 to 18. Close to
100 poems were received
from six regions.
Four judges reviewed and
ranked the poems to come up
with a winner for each region.
The grand prize winner is
Gerald Eggert of Chilliwack
with his poem “The Farm
Wife.” Each of the winners
received a gift certicate to
one of the 135 farmers’
markets around the province.
See the winning poems at
[http://www.bcfarmersmarket.
org/fresh-market/farmers-
appreciation-week-
2016#Poetry].
Ronda Payne
New online tool for organics
Ag Briefs
EDITED BY TAMARA LEIGH
See AG BRIEFS page 19
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 19
Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton examine
Pinot Noir grapes they picked at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in
West Kelowna during their Okanagan stop in September. Mission Hill
president Ian Morden looks on. (Canadian Heritage photo)
Arctic Fuji headed
south
SUMMERLAND – Early
spring of 2015 marked the
ocial deregulation of Arctic
Granny and Arctic Golden
apples in the US and now the
third apple from Okanagan
Specialty Fruits (OSF) – the
Arctic Fuji – will join them.
The non-browning apple
varieties have fallen under
criticism for a variety of
reasons, including the
potential impact the fruit may
have on Okanagan farmers
(specically organic growers) –
yet OSF has received positive
feedback on the apples.
Because the apple has been
altered through science-based
gene silencing, Arctic apples
do not brown when cut,
dropped or bitten.
The rst commercial harvest
occurred in early October with
the Arctic Golden. It will be
processed into sliced apples
and sold in test markets
throughout North America in
early 2017 according to
statements from Intrexon
Corp. OSF is based in
Summerland but is a wholly
owned subsidiary of Virginia-
based Intrexon Corp, a
company involved in creating
biologically-based products.
Ronda Payne
Water infrastructure
needed: cattlemen
KAMLOOPS – The province
needs to invest in
infrastructure for water
storage, the BC Cattlemen’s
Association (BCCA) told a
committee of government and
opposition MLAs.
The association was one of
a number of presenters to the
Select Standing Committee on
Finance and Government
Services that met in Kamloops.
BCCA general manager Kevin
Boon made the
recommendations to the
committee.
"It's an investment not just
for agriculture but there's
huge value to manage ows
for sh and recreation," he said
in an interview.
The association is calling on
government funding to
maintain existing dams and to
create new areas in plateau
regions of BC to hold back
water, something he said is
important to adapt to climate
change.
"We don't have a slow melt
and runo through the year;
this April, so much melted so
quick."
BC Cattlemen also called for
renewed funding to help slow
growth of invasive plants,
including knapweed, on
Crown land.
Cam Fortems
Production insurance
improvements
VICTORIA – Changes to the
production insurance program
have been introduced to help
tree-fruit growers manage the
risk of crop losses by hail,
spring frost, excessive rain,
ooding, drought and wind.
Wind will be added as a
"quality peril" to the program.
Fruit damaged by wind and
remaining on the tree will be
adjusted the same as hail
damage. There will be
changes for cherry growers,
including additional coverage
for new cherry plantings and
the time between purchasing
quality coverage and
coverage coming into eect is
being extended from two to
four days.
Deadline for applications is
November 30, 2016.
Tamara Leigh
AG BRIEFS From page 19
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201620
by PETER MITHAM
KAMLOOPS – Reports of predation
are up, rustling reports are down, but
what’s really troubling cattle country
this fall are wood thieves.
High cattle prices last year saw
many animals butchered in the eld, a
phenomenon that hasn’t been as
pronounced this year. Prices have
fallen and, while ranchers are still
rounding up cattle, there haven’t been
the kinds of gruesome reports BC
Cattlemen’s Association general
manager Kevin Boon was hearing last
year.
What is going missing is the
weathered wood that lend a rustic
touch to condos in the Lower
Mainland where new construction has
outstripped the availability of
weathered timbers.
“It’s not cattle that’s
getting rustled, it’s our
fences getting stolen,”
Boon told Country Life in
BC. “We know of probably
about $50,000 worth of
lumber that’s been stolen
o the Coquihalla in the
last month or two.”
While the fencing along
the Coquihalla is due for
replacement after serving
its purpose for more than
30 years, Boon says the
premature removal is creating a huge
risk to cattle and motorists.
“A lot of the places where we have
underpasses for the cattle to go under
the Coquihalla, we have wood planks
to guide them in,” Boon explained.
“[The thieves] are coming
in and they’re just
chainsawing them o, so
it’s leaving a wide open
hole onto the highway.”
The thefts come ahead
of the nal year of a $14
million provincially
funded fence-building
program across the
province. While many of
the fences are barbed-
wire construction, the
damage to the
underpasses underscores
the vulnerabilities facing the
infrastructure.
The situation also underscores the
need for an enforcement ocer
dedicated to range issues.
RCMP Corporal Ralph Overby
retired in 2015 and has not been
replaced. Many local police
detachments nd themselves hard-
pressed to keep up with criminal
activity, leaving many ranchers
frustrated.
On the positive side, Boon said
verication of losses attributed to
predators is up. While livestock deaths
aren’t in themselves good news, there
are more resources available to
compensate ranchers.
“We have a little more money being
paid for losses, so that helps,” Boon
said.
Wolves appear to be the primary
culprit this year, prompting some to
back a cull, but bears have been less of
a problem thanks to weather
conditions that left them with more
food than last year’s drought.
Ranchers square off against wood rustlers
Weathered fencing has become a prime target by those seeking the rustic look in home decor
KEVIN BOON
New hires to
investigate
ALR complaints
by PETER MITHAM
ABBOTSFORD – The
province has made good on a
pledge to bolster enforcement
of regulations governing the
Agricultural Land Reserve.
Derek Sturko, the province’s
deputy minister of agriculture,
made the announcement at
the annual meeting of the
Union of BC Municipalities.
The news was seized upon as
a sign that farms would have
to stick to recently announced
agri-tourism regulations.
However, the move simply
made good on a pledge to
use $1.6 million added to the
land commission’s budget this
year for heightened
enforcement.
The hiring of four new
ocers boosts the
commission’s compliance
force to six. However, ocers
aren’t about to go looking for
trouble. With complaints
tumbling in from across the
province, they’ll have more
than enough to do
investigating the issues being
brought to their attention.
Abbotsford mayor Henry
Braun told Country Life in BC
that city ocials know of at
least 450 parcels where non-
compliant activities are taking
place. He was counting on the
ALC’s beefed-up budget and
increased resources for
enforcement of the
commission’s regulations to
dovetail with plans in
Abbotsford to get tough with
non-compliant uses of
protected farmland.
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
21
WISE INVESTMENT: Devan Jansen, left, of Grindrod, was presented with one of two 4-H dairy
scholarships sponsored by RBC Wealth Management, Vernon, this year. The $1500 scholarship was split
between Devan, who is taking agricultural and mechanical courses, and Erin Drydyk, from Armstrong,
who is studying agriculture management at Olds College. Making the presentation at the North
Okanagan Holstein Club Fall Sale in Armstrong, September 28, was RBC investment advisor Eric
Wikjord and IPE president Ted Fitchett. (Gary Booy photo)
by PETER MITHAM
CALGARY – Times are
getting tougher for ranchers
trying to move cattle to
market with the loss of yet
another feedlot in Western
Canada.
Western Feedlots of Alberta
announced in September that
it plans to lock the gate on 59
years of business in early 2017.
The closure eliminates one of
Canada’s largest feedlots,
which in turn supplied two of
the country’s largest beef
packers – Cargill Ltd. and JBS
USA Holdings Inc. (formerly
Swift Foods).
Combined with a shrinking
herd in Western Canada, the
closure will mean less work for
packers and potentially less
meat from Canada’s ranches
hitting the country’s tables.
“Our peak capacity in
Western Canada was 1.75
million head,” Brian Perillat,
manager and senior analyst
with Canfax, the market
analysis division of the
Canadian Cattlemen’s
Association in Calgary, said.
“With the Western closure
we’re down to about 1.35
million.”
With limited slaughter
capacity of its own, BC sends
the majority of its beef cattle to
Alberta for processing. Many
also went east for nishing,
thanks to the integration of the
processing sector.
However, Western’s closure
follows on the demise of
Southern Plus Feedlots in
Oliver this fall, meaning
ranchers face fewer options
when it comes to shipping
their beef.
Those with a capacity of
1,000 head or more have
declined from 200 ve years
ago to 150 today. There are
also 20 to 50 smaller
operations, but they handle a
fraction of Western Canada’s
herd.
The result is a more
consolidated industry that will
put greater pressure on prices.
This, in turn, will squeeze
ranch incomes, which
benetted from high prices
last fall.
Shrinking herd
Western Canada’s herd has
shrunk over the past year but
prices haven’t increased
because demand for beef
remains low. Meanwhile, the
big grocers have put the lean
on suppliers to provide them
with more for less.
“Packing plants have been
paying less for the cattle, for
sure,” Perillat said. “[Retailers]
are managing their margins; of
course, they’re going to want
to buy it as cheap as possible.”
The lack of a domestic
supply can easily become a
liability, however, especially as
grocers and restaurants seek
to capture an increasingly
picky consumer.
The lack of a single
domestic supplier for Certied
Humane beef put Vancouver-
based Earls Restaurants Ltd. in
the cross-hairs of ranchers and
consumers earlier this year, for
example. The rm had looked
to Kansas for its beef rather
than rounding up stock from
smaller suppliers in Canada.
“Chefs headed out to see
the ranches and the
butchering facilities for
themselves. They lled their
water bottles up from the
cows’ water sources and
tasted the feed, a mix of
naturally ranch-grown grains
and grasses and the spent
grains from the local brewery,”
Earls said in announcing its
program.
But, like Dorothy, Earls isn’t
in Kansas anymore.
The backlash prompted it
to work with the growing
number of small feedlots –
primarily in Alberta – who
nish their cattle in ways that
meet emerging market
demands.
“We are seeing more niche
supply chains,” Perillat said.
While exact numbers are
hard to come by, Alberta
Cattle Feeders Association
CEO Bryan Walton believes the
majority of consumers are
sticking with conventional
beef.
“There are always niches for
grass-fed, and what Earls is
looking for,” Walton said. “[But]
I would argue that most
Canadians are happy with the
conventional product.”
Meanwhile, export demand
is growing. A new plant is set
to open in Balzac, Alberta by
the end of the year, and plans
are also taking shape for a new
facility in Prince George. Both
are export-oriented but stand
to benet from the closure of
Western Feedlots.
“It will probably, in some
aspects, give an opportunity,”
says Kevin Boon, general
manager of the BC
Cattlemen’s Association
regarding Western Feedlots’
closure. “One of the reasons
we’re looking at a facility in BC
is the closer we can keep the
cattle to the grain and to the
packing plant, the more
economical it is. … [Western’s
closure] gives opportunity for
us to build.”
Beef outlets narrow
as feedlots close
Western’s demise could be opportunity
for proposed Prince George facility
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 2016
22
Forage trial in Central Interior considers climate change adaptation
Stories by CHRIS YATES
VANDERHOOF – A forage
trial project in the Central
Interior is wrapping up for two
of the participants and will
continue until December for
two others.
Demonstrating Innovative
Forage Production Practices to
Increase Climate Change
Adaptation was a project
designed by the BC Forage
Council and BC Ministry of
Agriculture and implemented
by Dr. Catherine Taraso of
Agrowest Consulting and
Ministry of Agriculture (BCMA)
agrologist Lavona Liggins of
Prince George.
“In a project like this, you
expect to meet around 60% of
your objectives but these
farmers have done such good
work that we will have met all
our goals by the end of
December,” Dr. Taraso says.
Butch Ruiter of Vanderhoof
planted Winfred kale at two
lbs to the acre with oats at 70
lbs to the acre in June 2015 to
see how the kale would aect
forage quality for swath
grazing. Despite a slow start
due to drought, the kale
responded to fall rains and
starting in November, Ruiter
says he “sampled once a week
and there was no change into
December.” The feed was
providing 19% protein
consistently.
This year, Ruiter planted
both Winfred and Hunter kale
at two pounds to the acre
with his oats.
“I’ll sample the brassicas in
the swath this time to see
how the values hold in a
swath because that is often
how I’d end up feeding it.”
Ruiter will have a better
idea of the full extent of the
brassica benets once he gets
the readings on feed quality
into December.
Jon Solecki of Grassy Plains
will also wait for feed quality
results in December for a
complete picture of his
research. He planted two
separate plots each of western
wheat grass, crested wheat
grass, creeping red fescue,
meadow brome and Russian
wild rye at 20 lbs per acre. Dr.
Taraso said some of these
varieties were a “bit of a
stretch” for the areas but “at
the same time, this is a climate
change adaptation program
so he wanted to look at some
that wouldn’t be traditionally
grown in the area and see if
maybe they’ll grow there now;
things are changing.”
Each side of the divided
eld had the ve varieties.
One side had no fertilizer and
on the other, he had bale
grazed his herd for the ve
previous winters and was
looking to see if the passive
fertilization made any
dierence to the yield and
quality of the crops.
Dr. Taraso said last year
Solecki looked at how many
plants established in year one
and this spring, he looked at
how many plants were still
Butch Ruiter (L) of Whispering Winds Farm in Vanderhoof takes questions about the Hunter Kale he
planted to increase feed value in his swath grazing. The Winfred kale he planted with his oats retained
19% protein into December last year. (Chris Yates photo)
See FORAGE TRIAL page 23
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NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
23
there. Although results were
spotty at rst, by fall, the crops
were looking better.
“And as we move into the
winter, he’s going to start
harvesting samples and we’ll
send them in for forage
quality analysis.”
At this point, the Russian
wild rye seems to have
outperformed in terms of
yield despite the weeds that
have interfered in all of the
plots, and the crested wheat
grass planted in the passively
fertilized eld is clearly heavier
than the same variety grown
in the unfertilized eld.
“Testing will tell how
passive fertilization might
aect quality and yield and
we’ll also see how quality
changes over time,” said the
scientist.
High-yield alfalfa
Wayne Ray, who has 2,200
acres south of Fort Fraser, was
looking for a high-yield alfalfa
variety when he planted
Vision and a ve-way blend in
separate plots. Vision and the
blend were seeded at 12.5 lbs
and 25 lbs per acre in June
2015.
This year, the ve-way
blend at 25 lbs per acre had
the best yield at 3.5 tons to
the acre dry weight. The 12.5
lb per acre blend gave a little
over 2.5 tons, Ray said. The
high-density Vision output
was just under 2.5 tons per
acre while the low was just
under two tons per acre.
Varieties in the ve-way
blend included a combination
of 30% TH2, 30% Haygrazer,
15% Rugged ST,15%
Response WT and 10%
Runner, all with dierent root
systems and growth patterns,
which might explain why it
performed so well despite the
summer rain that delayed
harvest. The mix might also
explain why it crowded out
most of the weeds that
popped up in the other plots,
Ray added.
Seeding rates
“The nal establishment in
the fall really reects the
seeding rate; you typically get
twice as many plants when
you seed twice as many
pounds of seed,” Taraso
concluded. She added the
blend was taking nutrients
from various soil levels rather
than just one due to the
dierent root systems; they’re
not competing with each
other for the same resources
and perhaps that was also an
advantage.
Traugott Klein manages
crops for Vanderhoof hay
exporter Tophay Agri-
Industries Inc.
“What we tried to nd out
in this trial was which variety
retains the protein the best
until cutting time, when the
weather is right to cut, and it
is very clear that there is a
denite dierence among
varieties.”
Klein said he was looking
for protein levels of at least
18% minimum to meet market
demands. Of the six alfalfa
varieties tried
Hybrid 2410,
Leader, WL319, TopHand,
Dalton, and Stealth
Klein
said Dalton and Stealth were
the best, Top Hand and WL
319 were okay and Hybrid had
mixed results.
Klein’s assistant, Sarah
Mueller, conducted most of
the research in terms of
sampling and analysis and
said in the rst year the crops
were seeded at 18 lbs per acre
and irrigated. No irrigation
was needed in 2016 and while
WL319 and Top Hand had the
highest protein levels from
early to late bud stage, they
and Leader reached maturity
in early June.
“In this area, we can’t
harvest dry hay in early June.“
She added that by the time
they did their rst cut June 28,
Leader Top Hand and Hybrid
had lost value but Stealth and
Dalton met Tophay’s quality
standards and maintained
those protein levels
throughout the various
growth stages.
Funding for the project
is provided by the
Investment Agriculture
Foundation Climate Action
Initiative, through the
Growing Forward 2 program,
as well as the Ministry of
Agriculture, BC Forage
Council, Omenica Beetle
Action Coalition, Nechako
Regional Cattlemen and the
Nechako-Kitimaat
Development Fund Society.
Preliminary results of the
research is available online in
VANDERHOOF – Simplicity
and planning are key to
getting useful results when it
comes to independent
on-farm research trials, says
Ministry of Agriculture
agrologist Lavona Liggins.
Liggins addressed the
issue of time and complexity
during a forage field day to
show the progress being
made on a climate change
adaptation project underway
in the Central Interior.
“These farmers had access
to Dr. Tarasoff and me and
other resources for their
research so it was possible to
do fairly complex work,”
explained Liggins. “For
individuals who don’t have
those resources, it will be
important to keep the goals
simple and straight forward,
especially at first.”
Liggins and Dr. Catherine
Tarasoff of Agrowest
Consulting agreed the best
way to ensure success with a
project is to first decide on a
clear question and to look for
one thing at a time, such as
yield. They said one-question
projects are less work and
more apt to meet
expectations.
According to Dr. Tarasoff,
planning is another major
component to successful
research.
“If a certain type of seed is
needed, then make sure it’s
available at an affordable
price. Find out what
machinery will be needed
and whether or not it’s
available; find out if there’s
someone else who might be
interested in your research
and see if they’d be willing to
be a part of the project. Once
the planning is done, the
project is half way there,” said
Tarasoff.
Tarasoff is in the process of
updating a producer-oriented
manual for conducting
independent
research on-farm.
“It will apply to livestock
producers, orchardists,
market gardeners, anyone
who is involved in
agriculture.”
She expects to have the
manual available through the
BC Forage Council by
Christmas.
the BC Forage Council section
of the FarmWest website and
nal results will be posted
there in December.
Catherine Tarasoff, Agrowest Consulting (Chris Yates photo)
Good planning essential
FORAGE from page 22
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201624
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NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 25
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201626
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by CHRIS YATES
QUICK – Genomics as a tool for
building a strong commercial beef
herd is a relatively new idea for most
smaller ranchers in Canada, so Delta
Genomics CEO Michelle Miller had her
work cut out for her when she
introduced the concept in an hour-
long presentation at the Bulkley Valley
Cattlemens’ eld day, October 1.
“Genomics is a new eld of science
that can help producers manage their
herds and improve their protability,”
she told producers as she explained
how DNA markers can be used to
select replacement heifers.
“It also has the promise of
enhancing the quality of meat while
promoting environmental
sustainability,” she added.
“A genetic test will tell you whether
your calf’s going to be black or red,”
Miller explained, addressing the
dierence between genetics and
genomics. “There’s a test for that, for
$20.”
Genomics will look at broader
questions, like which heifers will
increase eciency and protability.
Deciding on replacement heifers is
not simple, she admits, but if you
know what traits you’d like
emphasized or balanced in your cows,
then genomics can help.
Delta Genomics oers two options
for testing: Gold and Silver.
“(With) gold, you get 13 traits; silver
you get six,” she explained. Traits are
divided into maternal, performance
and carcass. The silver test is $35 per
animal. Producers can submit either
hair or blood samples.
Miller used the results from a silver
test using hair samples from seven
heifers to demonstrate what genomics
can add to what the farmer already
knows from records and experience.
“It’s a tool – an addition to the
information you already have.”
Miller told the group the most
important thing to do before testing is
to decide what it is they want in their
herd.
“What are the traits you value the
most in a cow? ... In these heifers, it
was calving ease, stayability, RFI
(residual feed intake), marbling and
tenderness, and average daily gain – in
that order.”
Miller said ve of the six traits in are
ranked from one to ten, with ten
being highest. (Lower numbers are
better on RFI results.) The value placed
on each trait is based on thousands of
DNA markers collected from Angus
and several other breeds in the US.
“Genomic testing is much more
common south of the border among
commercial and purebred producers.
There hasn’t been as much interest in
genomics in Canada so far, but it’s
growing,” she said. Some Canadian
purebred associations and breeders
are using DNA testing to validate EPD
(expected progeny dierences)
numbers which are in widespread use.
She showed how to take the results
for each animal and match them
against the numbers from the others
in the test group to come up with a
ranking from rst to last (one to seven
in this case), from most desirable to
least.
If only three or four of the seven
heifers will be used as replacements,
this test will help the rancher decide
which are the best ones to keep to
help build the herd.
“Our goal is to increase the
protability, competitiveness and
sustainability of the Canadian livestock
industry and we do that through the
introduction of genomic technology,
helping move science from research at
the university into industry,” Miller
explained.
The eld day was hosted by Poplar
Meadows with nancial support from
Growing Forward 2, Bulkley Valley
Cattlemen, Bulkley Valley Dairymen
and the BC Horn Levy fund.
Genomics will help build a better beef herd
Michelle Miller, Delta Genomics (Emily Bulmer photo)
Apples waiting for the juicer. (Photo courtesy of Fields Forward)
by TOM WALKER
CRESTON – Creston’s recent
“Press Fest” was a good
example of how the planned
purchase of a mobile juice
press can support and grow
community agriculture.
“It certainly gave us more
prole for our anticipated
purchase,” says Fields Forward
co-ordinator Paris Marshall
Smith. “We have been doing
most of our outreach with the
local orchardists (by) getting
letters of intent with those
who will want to use the
service. This was a good
demonstration for them of
what the machine can do. It
was also good to connect with
the schools who we expect
will be involved with us as
well.”
On October 4, all seven
Creston and district area
schools were represented
when 200 children and adult
volunteers worked through
the day to press, juice and
vacuum-pack 13,000 pounds
of local apples.
“In return, each school
received 75 ve-litre boxes of
juice. The schools were able to
use the juice either as a
fundraiser or in their meal
programs, which several of
the schools have,” says
Marshall Smith.
“All of the apples were
donated by three commercial
orchards in the community,”
says Marshall Smith. “One
orchard with cold storage
delivers 40 pounds of apples
weekly to one of the local
schools as part of their
breakfast program. But they
are usually done by January.
By donating to the juice
program, which would in turn
be donated to the lunch
program, they could extend
that donation through the
year.”
Fields Forward (FF) is the
rst project to be funded by
the Creston and District
Community Funds initiative.
The initiative is charged with
allocating $600,000 entrusted
to them by the Columbia
Basin Trust for investment in
locally-driven community
change. Three community
priorities were identied: child
and youth wellbeing,
community nance, and
agriculture and food systems.
FF received just over $250,000
to fund the rst three years.
Marshall Smith is the full time
co-ordinator.
“We are trying to build the
notion of how do we take
responsibility as a community
for the work to feed
ourselves,” says Marshall
Smith. “If that is a worthy goal,
then how do we do that
together?”
Over 80 producers,
organizations, businesses and
local governments from Yahk
to Riondel have collaborated
in FF to establish a food
venture collaborative.
Mobile juicer initiative
inspires community outreach
“This area has so much
potential,” Marshall Smith
adds. “We have a climate
similar to the Okanagan,
amazing soil and a diversity of
production that allows for
that vision to feed ourselves.”
The collaborative identied
the purchase of a mobile fruit
and vegetable press as their
rst priority.
“Part of the reason we are
doing this is that the
orchardists came to us,”
explains Marshall Smith. “They
had experience with the
mobile press last year and they
want the service in the valley.”
Juice is a shelf-stable value-
added product that provides
good marketing opportunities
and it is seen as a way to
contribute to rebuilding old
orchards in the area.
“A lot of our communities
have a history and remnants
of an orchard industry,” says
Marshall Smith. “There is an
opportunity to reinvigorate
those orchards, replant and
create more industry.”
Okanagan Mobile Juicing
from Vernon was back for its
second visit this fall but it
makes sense for locals to have
their own plant rather than
bringing one in for a short
term, Marshall Smith says.
“The benet of having it
locally is that the juicer will be
able to respond to orchardists
as the apples are coming o
the tree, or as the cherries are
ripe.”
“We are also working with
cherry producers to access
culls from the packing line
that currently go to the
landll,” says Marshall Smith.
“One small packing house we
are working with produces
6,000 pounds of culls a day so
See JUICER page 28
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 27
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201628
even if we capture half of
those, it’s a lot.”
And perhaps the cherry
mash could be used as animal
feed.
“We talked to one pig
farmer in the community and
she told us if we could supply
1,500 pounds of mash, which
is about what we gured we
would have a day, she would
be saving $73,000 in feed
costs.”
FF hopes to purchase the
mobile juicer this winter for
an estimated cost of $230,000.
It would create two
permanent part-time and two
seasonal jobs. Other projects
include designing and
building a permanent farmer’s
market park and creating a
exible labour pool,
particularly for spring and fall
seasons.
by DAVID SCHMIDT
ABBOTSFORD – Today,
most commercial poultry
producers grow their chickens
and turkeys indoors. Even
free-run and free-range birds
spend as much time indoors
as out.
That is not the case at
K&M Farms in Abbotsford,
perhaps the only growers in
BC with truly pasture-raised
poultry.
“We started with 50 birds
about 15 years ago. Then we
got new entrant quota and
now grow about 4,500
chickens and 1,400 turkeys a
year,” explains Jillian Robbins,
who runs the 12-acre farm
with her father, Mark, a
recently retired BC Ministry of
Agriculture agrologist.
The birds are grown
seasonally, chickens from May
to October, and turkeys from
May to December. The
Robbins buy their birds as
day-old chicks. They spend
their rst two to three weeks
in a brooder house, then
move into moveable outdoor
shelters for the rest of their
lives. That is a total of 70 days
for the chickens (most
commercial chickens are
grown for only 35 to 40 days)
and 22 weeks for turkeys.
Shelters are moved weekly to
give the birds new areas to
forage in.
“We promote our birds as
grown so they can express
their natural behavior,” Jillian
says, noting the pasture is
supplemented with grain.
K&M’s birds are larger and
heavier than most
commercially-raised birds.
Chicken dress out at about six
pounds while turkeys are 20
to 25 pounds dressed.
“Slaughter can be an issue
as most abattoirs aren’t set up
for our size of birds,” Jillian
says. “Fortunately, Rossdown
Farms has the equipment to
handle them so they do our
slaughtering and cutups. They
are just down the road so it
works very well for us.”
Everything is sold through
their on-farm store or at the
winter farmers’ market in
Vancouver.
“We have ve fresh pick-up
days per year for chicken and
two for the turkeys,” Mark
explains.
Lending land to new farmers
A few years ago, K&M Farms
started oering a corner of
their land for new farmers to
try their hand at growing
vegetables. Chelsea
McDonald, Andre Lagace and
Lucy Brain, who call
themselves the Lone Goat
Micro-Farm, use a quarter-acre
to grow vegetables for a CSA
(community-supported
agriculture) box program and
selected local chefs and to sell
at a stand during K&M’s fresh
pick-up days. Lone Goat was
started two years ago and the
partners plan to continue at
K&M for at least another year.
The vegetables are grown in a
small hoop house and in a
series of outdoor raised beds.
McDonald, who also has
her own landscaping business,
admits the small farm “is a
romantic notion of growing
food,” but says “it’s a lot more
fun than mowing lawns.”
“It’s a complementary
product for us. It allows us to
oer more than just meat,”
Jillian says.
“There’s a need for people
to have access to land and this
allows new farmers to try it
out on a small scale and see if
it works for them,” Jillian says,
adding, “it’s a complementary
product for our meat sales.”
K&M does not charge the
farmers for the land. Instead,
they are required to
participate in the fresh pick-up
days and allow the Robbins to
pick vegetables from the plots
for their own dinners.
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JUICER From page 27
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 29
by TOM WALKER
KELOWNA – Members of
the BC Fruit Growers’
Association (BCFGA) will get
an incentive to help cover the
costs of participating in food
safety programs thanks to a
recent dividend from the
Summerland Varieties
Corporation (SVC).
As growers themselves, the
BCFGA executive has direct
experience with food safety
programs.
“We know the cost, eort
and occasional frustration of
implementing food safety
programs on the farm,” says
BCFGA president Fred Steele.
“At the same time, we
recognize the benet of food
safety in giving condence
and promoting our apples,
cherries and soft fruit.”
BCFGA members will
receive a one time payment of
$425 to help cover the costs of
enrolling in a food safety
program such as CanadaGAP
(Good Agriculture Practices).
“We feel that giving the
grower a one-time break by
providing an incentive will
strengthen our industry’s
commitment to food safety,”
says Steele.
Costs for a program like
GAP can range for $425 (the
minimum yearly fee for
members of BC Tree Fruit
Co-operative under a group
plan) to several thousand
dollars per year paid to other
accrediting bodies. Programs
also require signicant
amounts of time and often
lead to changes aecting farm
practices and record keeping.
While a grower will have toilet
facilities, a new certication
may require a higher number
per worker, for instance. There
may be new training
requirements for sta which
would be paid for by growers.
SVC was formed 20 years
ago to help owners organize
and regulate new fruit varieties.
“SVC is having success
handling some of the new
varieties of cherries and
Ambrosia apples,” says BCFGA
general manager Glen Lucas.
“They get a share of the
royalty proceeds.”
Although realizing a prot is
not the principal objective of
the company, there has been a
prot.
“This is their rst dividend
ever and it is appreciated by
growers,” adds Lucas.
“I think it is a real
opportunity to say food safety
is here and we need to
recognize the eort and
encourage growers to
continue supporting the
program,” says Lucas.
Lucas was a member of the
committee that worked on
GAP standards ve years ago
and he’s concerned about
additional requirements for
growers.
“If you introduce standards
one at a time, you can get
what I call ‘standards creep’
that can actually increase the
volume of standards,” he says.
“It’s key to focus on the most
important aspects of food
safety versus perhaps
identifying a new situation
which is of very low risk and
yet regulating that.”
BCFGA will ask the
Canadian Horticulture Council
annual convention to
advocate for a single, sensible
food safety program to avoid
multiple competing retail
programs.
“An example of retailer
standards that we have an
issue on is that Costco has said
that pickers cannot bring
water bottles into the
orchard,” says Lucas. “We think
that’s unreasonable.
Apparently, they can use the
Costco water bottle but not
their own.”
Lucas says it’s a human
safety concern.
“It’s very hot when pickers
are working in the summer.
Heat stroke is a life threatening
condition,” he points out. “We
have to get our retailers to
back o in implementing
these ad hoc rules.”
BCFGA is pushing for
national standards.
“We support CanadaGAP”
Lucas says. “We avoid multiple
retailer programs by going
with GAP but Costco is going
its own way.”
“They also ask that we test
the water. Well, it’s municipal
water. It probably gets tested
more than Costco requires,”
Lucas says. “It’s an unfair
practice.”
“We will be pushing for a
fair trade code of practice
(such) as they have in Australia
and the UK,” says Lucas. “In
dealing with retailers, this is
the thin edge of the wedge for
growers.”
Fruit growers offered incentive
for food safety training
As a hands-on grower, BC Fruit Growers’ Association president Fred
Steele knows how important it is to have safety protocols in place.
(Tom Walker photo)
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by PETER MITHAM
RICHMOND – While the
collapse of bee colonies across
North America has
precipitated angst among city-
dwellers, beekeepers working
the trenches are struggling
with limiting the risks colonies
face.
Presenters at the annual
conference of the BC Honey
Producers’ Association in
Richmond last month
discussed the good, the bad
and the bugly of hive health
and colony cultivation.
The best news of the day
was mycologist Paul Stamets’
announcement of a patent for
a new method of ghting
varroa mite, arch-enemy of
colonies across the continent.
“This is a paradigm-shifting
discovery,” Stamets, president
of Fungi Perfecti LLC in
Olympia, Washington, told
meeting attendees.
Stamets didn’t happen
upon the connection between
bees, fungi and pest control
by accident.
Since the mid 1980s, he’d
observed bees feeding on
mycelium, the vegetative part
of fungus which is high in
sugars. Through his work in
the forest sector, he was aware
that red-belted polypore was
adept at metabolizing DDT
while another fungi,
Metarhizium anisopliae, is toxic
to termites.
Working with Washington
State University entomology
professor Steve Sheppard,
they researched the potential
for M. anisopliae to ght varroa
mites.
Hives that were treated with
M. anisopliae exhibited greater
resilience against varroa mites.
Moreover, trials with red-
belted polydore and amadou
fungi suggested that bees that
ingested these fungi have
longer lifespans and greater
resistance to certain viruses,
thanks in part to their ability to
metabolize pesticides.
Game changer
The idea that fungi-
munching bees are better able
resist pests and disease is a
game-changer, Stamets
declared.
It’s also timely.
Pests, pathogens, pesticides
and poor forage are the four
key enemies honeybees face,
said Michele Colopy, program
director at the Pollinator
Stewardship Council in Akron,
Ohio.
All of these work together in
some combination or other to
push a colony towards
Honey producers urged to stand up for their colonies
Michigan entomologist and bee business
consultant Larry Connor told the annual
conference of the BC Honey Producers
Association that $1,000 a hive isn’t an
unrealistic income.
However, a tide of honey from China is
being blamed for putting that target out of
reach for many commercial beekeepers.
Canadian Press reported in September
that prices had dropped 50% from a year
ago, reecting a glut on the market. While
some producers received more than $2.00 a
pound in 2015, this year prices were closer
to $1.00 a pound.
According to Statistics Canada, the
average price nationwide last year was
$2.43 a pound, the third year in a row prices
had been above $2.00.
However, the topic of falling prices didn’t
come up in responses to Connor’s talk.
This may be because BC beekeepers
received more than twice the national
average for their product last year – $5.27 a
pound.
According to Statistics Canada, the
provincial honey harvest totalled nearly 3.7
million pounds from 45,571 colonies from
Aldergrove to Terrace.
Honey prices spiral down
more engaged – something
that Colopy also encouraged.
While beekeepers can take
steps to improve the hive
environment by regularly
removing wax that may have
become contaminated with
too many toxins, she urged
beekeepers to engage their
neighbours and regulators.
“It’s our livestock and our
livelihood. And we have a right
to protect that. We have to
stand up for our bees,
including taking legal action.”
Reporting bee kills
Key issues in Canada
included the need to report
bee kills, a process she said
needs improvement. While
her organization helps US
beekeepers le reports with
the right agencies, she said it
wasn’t immediately obvious
how beekeepers could go
about doing so in Canada.
Moreover, the PMRA needs
to hear from beekeepers
about the impacts new
chemicals might have on
colonies.
“We want the labels to do
the right thing but when we’re
not involved as beekeepers,
we get bad labels,” she said.
“We cannot leave this to
others to educate them about
what our bees do.”
collapse, rather than a single
factor.
“If we want to protect bees,
we need to look at their whole,
real-world environment,” she
told BC beekeepers.
Hives can harbour up to 121
toxic chemicals, Colopy said,
with at least 50 coming from
tree fruit orchards alone.
The result is toxic mess in
which the sum of the
chemicals is far worse than any
individual element on its own.
Rather than point to
neonicotinoids, the current
poster-child of bad chemicals,
Colopy said advocates should
be looking at the full range of
substances bees
encounter.
“It’s not one
thing; it’s not just
one pesticide,”
she says. “Our
little ying dust
mops encounter a
ton of things.”
The liveliest
discussion of the
meeting,
however, focused
on the bugly
problem of
pesticide
management.
Several in the audience
challenged Virginia Abbott
Colony collapses are the result of a multitude of factors: pests, pathogens, pesticides
from the Pest
Management
Regulatory
Agency (PMRA), a
division of Health
Canada, for the
agency’s focus on
regulation and
reactive
management
versus a stronger
monitoring and
compliance role.
However,
Abbott said the
PMRA can only
step in when a
product has been misused.
She urged apiarists to become
PAUL STAMETS
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201632
by TAMARA LEIGH
NANAIMO – It might sound apocalyptic but the discovery of
“Zombie ies” in honey bees on Vancouver Island is causing
more hype than harm for BC bee colonies.
In August, a Nanaimo-area bee keeper raised the alarm after
she found the rst conrmed case of parasitic forad ies in
Canadian honey bees. John Hafernick is a biologist from San
Francisco State University and director of ZomBeeWatch.org, a
website that tracks the spread of parasitic ies that have
become widely known as “Zombie ies” in North America.
“This is a native y that people have known about since 1924
but before this, we have only seen it in bumble bees and native
wasps. It is
much more
recent in
European
honey
bees,” says
Hafernick.
The y is
distributed
from the
southern
US to
Fairbanks,
Alaska and
is now been
found in
honey bees
across North America. They lay eggs in the abdomens of their
hosts while they are out foraging. When the larvae hatch, they
consume the bee from the inside out and then discard the
spent host. Infected bees become increasingly disoriented as
the eggs hatch and will often leave the hive at night and y
erratically around lights.
While the forad y may be becoming more prevalent,
commercial beekeepers on Vancouver Island have bigger issues
to deal with.
“It’s another issue that beekeepers need to be aware of but
we are more concerned about small hive beetle and varroa
mite,” says Bob Liptrot of Tugwell Creek Honey Farm & Meadery
in Sooke. “The bigger issue is bees and pesticides, but that’s the
elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about.”
A veteran beekeeper, Liptrot says honey bees are becoming
more susceptible to parasites and pathogens when they are
stressed by exposure to pesticides. The persistent movement
and migration of commercial bee colonies also contributes to
the spread of disease.
“We move bees around, and with the bees go all the nasty
little bugs and germs they carry. That’s going to spread forad
ies way faster than they could on their own,” he says. “This is
not another varroa mite calamity. They are just another
annoyance in the background and they are probably here to
stay with the climate change that we are experiencing.”
Zombie bees not
so scary
Media hype is an overreaction
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NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 33
MERRITT – Don Vincent has a small farm 25
km west of Merritt where he has planted two
acres of fruhburgunder, a cool-climate German
variety of the pinot noir grape. He is an
instructor at the Nicola Valley Institute of
Technology, a post secondary institution
governed by the aboriginal community. And
he is a member of Friends of the Nicola Valley,
a group opposed to the spreading of biosolids
in the Cariboo Grasslands restoration project.
“SYLVIS and the local ranchers are carrying
out experiments using the big city’s sewer
sludge as fertilizer,” says Vincent. He says his
group doesn’t accept the name biosolids.
“About a decade ago, a PR machine went
into high gear to formulate a nice sounding
word. They came up with biosolids ... We see
that as a term that has been cooked up and it
is not a scientic term.”
Vincent says he hasn’t been up to the
grasslands sight.
“They cancelled the information day that I
think was just a propaganda piece when they
found out that people with a lot of
information, like scientist John Werring from
the Suzuki Foundation, were going to come up
and ask some awkward questions,” he says.
Vincent dismissed a four-year study vetted
by Ryerson University scientist Lynda
McCarthy.
“I see it as nothing more than a cherry-
picked summary of articles that supports the
government and the industrys’ pre-
determined outcomes,” Vincent says. “They
made sure that they only chose the science
that supports their claims that everything is
ne, it is safe when in fact there are many,
many studies out there which say the opposite
– that it is actually a very bad practice to
spread big city toxins over rural environments
where they can get into the food chain and
jeopardize water systems and soil.”
“Toxic waste is the waste coming out of the
waste water treatment centers and it’s toxic;
it’s full of toxins,” he adds. Vincent conrmed,
by his denition, the presence of a toxin makes
it toxic.
“I think the point is we should be taking a
precautionary approach rather than this risky
and reckless one,” says Vincent. “We believe
strongly that we should be trying to reduce
these toxins and not be introducing them into
rural areas and the food chain.”
Vincent says there are alternatives
“Cities like LA and London and Switzerland
and Japan are turning towards gasication and
pyrolysis so they are able to get energy from
this resource and at the same time rid their
environments of this,” he says. “Yes, there is an
initial cost but in the long run it will be paying
for itself.
In his own backyard, the city of Merritt had a
private contractor compost their biosolids.
“Right now, because of the moratorium that
the ve chiefs in the area have sensibly put in
place, they are stock-piling it,” Vincent says.
“They are talking to various players in the
gasication area to get more information and
some quotes to see if we can put something
together.”
Making a case for biosolids on interior ranches
Controversial use of treated waste
shows positive impact on grasslands
Stories by TOM WALKER
CLINTON – Stepping out of
the truck, I think to myself that
these south Cariboo
grasslands don’t look very
grassy. Parched, crumbly soil
shows between small clumps
of grass that are barely as high
as my hiking boots. I’m not
looking at the towering bunch
grass I remember 40 years ago
as I headed south from
Kamloops through Knutsford
on my rst trip to Merritt.
It isn’t from lack of rainfall.
Area ranchers I’m talking to
tell me it’s been one of the
wettest summers they can
recall. Indeed, about 30
meters away, the grass is thick
and green, not quite the “belly
high to a horse” of legends,
but perhaps knee high and
high enough that it’s falling
over in the late September
sunshine. There is a thick
thatch layer, native grasses
crowd out the weeds, and the
soil is dark and rich-looking.
Same land, same rainfall.
What’s the dierence? The
lush green patch is a
demonstration plot that has
been treated with biosolids
from the Lower Mainland.
Lawrence Joiner speaks in a
soft tone as he describes the
soil on his 5,000-hectare
deeded rangelands.
“When the ministry range
agrologist tested it, the results
came back: no nitrogen, no
organic matter,” says Joiner as
he addresses a tour of his OK
Ranch restoration project. “I
came up from the coast so I
was used to putting chicken
manure on the grass to make
it grow.”
He says he tried chicken
manure and cow manure and
chemical fertilizers but
nothing helped.
“Let it rest, said the
agrologist, and I did,” says
Joiner. “But it didn’t improve.”
Overdrawn
“You can think of the soil as
a bank,” explains John Lavery,
an agrologist and biologist
who works with SYLVIS
Environmental. “At some
point, the bank became over
drawn.”
There’s talk of over-grazing
and the eects of the drought
in the 1930’s. This area west of
Clinton up against the Fraser
Saving rural areas from urban sludge
John Lavery from SYLVIS Environmental provides a hands-on demonstration of biosolid material being used
to fertilize grassland in BC’s southern interior. (Tom Walker photo)
See BIOSOLIDS page 34
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201634
River used to have enough
families for two schools and
now there is but one family.
Looks like compost
An hour later, I’m standing
next to a 2,000-square-meter
biosolids pile that looks like
compost. In fact, it is very
similar to compost. This
material started as municipal
sewage in the Lower Mainland
but has been treated in an
anaerobic digestion process
much like composting and it
meets the regulatory
standards of “Class A”
biosolids. The slang term is
“municipal sludge” but that’s
wrong. It’s not sludgy at all. It’s
a stable pile, slightly moist and
nearly odorless. That’s right.
This poop smells like the
bottom of a marsh if you were
to stir it with a stick.
John Lavery, far right, points to a section of grassland that was treated once with biosolids 14 years ago.
(Tom Walker photo)
BIOSOLIDS
FROM PAGE 33
Lavery grabs a handful and
it clumps together like damp
dirt. He explains this pile has
been here for perhaps two
days. A manure spreader
works the nearby grasslands
in a manner that is practiced
in hundreds of locations in
countries around the world.
“Scandinavia, Europe, South
America, the United States ...”
Lavery rattles o a list.
The team at SYLVIS have
contracts with several BC
municipalities to manage
roughly 25,000 wet tonnes per
year at the OK Ranch. That will
cover between 300 and 500
hectares of Joiner’s land a
year. The rest goes over to
Alberta.
Joiner says the eect of the
rst test applications in the
early 2000’s was “immediate.”
The steers that grazed on test
plots were up to 150 lbs
heavier than their range-fed
cousins. OK Ranch range grass
has about 10% protein
content. If you feed that grass
biosolids, the protein jumps to
19-22% and slowly drops over
four years back to 10%. Even
after four years, average
forage production on
biosolids plots was 2,280 kg
per hectare compared to 460
kg per hectare, untreated.
The treated land greens up
earlier in the spring, fades
later in the fall and the taller
grass is easier for the cattle to
graze through light snow.
Joiner says his animals can
stay at least a month longer
on pasture and that means a
month less of buying hay.
“This is such a valuable
resource,” says Joiner.
C
omparisons
The last stop on the tour is
to view a test plot that had
one application of biosolids in
2002 when the project rst
started. Half of the fenced-o
area was treated and half has
been resting. The non-treated,
rested area is marginally
better than the grazed land
outside the fence. But the
aects of one application of
biosolids 14 years ago are
marked. The gaps between
the clumps of small bunch
grass are lled in. It is clear
there is organic matter in the
soil that supports a healthy
range eco-system. That “soil
bank” that Lavery described
earlier has had a major
deposit and it is maintaining a
healthy balance sheet.
www.AgSafeBC.ca
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NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 35
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BCHA President Murray Gore
604-582-3499
BCHA Secretary Janice Tapp
250-699-6466
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by TOM WALKER
CLINTON – John Lavery, a
biologist and agrologist with
SYLVIS Environmental, enjoys
making a point by chewing
range grass growing on land
that has been treated with
biosolids. But is he dancing
with the devil?
Can scientists detect trace
elements of chemicals that are
deemed harmful to humans
and animals in treated
biosolids? Certainly. Does that
mean that the biosolids are
toxic?
Two ibuprofen after a day of
digging in the garden are not
toxic; they make me feel a lot
better. However, a full bottle of
Advil would be toxic and
might cause me serious harm.
“Presence is not equal to
impact,” says Dr. Lynda
McCarthy, a professor in the
Department of Chemistry and
Biology at Ryerson University,
speaking in Vancouver in early
September. Dr. McCarthy
provided an overview of
ndings of the literature
review, Risks Associated with
Application of Municipal
Biosolids to Agriculture Lands in
a Canadian Context.
The literature review is a
250 page report on the study
of 1000 sources that address
the biosolids question. It’s
available on the Canadian
Water Network site.
“It covers every question we
could possibly imagine,” says
McCarthy, a former federal
scientist who specializes in
ecotoxicology.
The truth is we humans
have a lot of chemicals in our
environment. Scientists have
come to label them ‘Emerging
Substances of Concern,’ or
ESOCs.
When you sit in your car,
your butt is encased in
Brominated Flame Retardants
(BFR’s). We don’t want that
seat to burst into ames
during a vehicle crash but if
you ate a car seat, it might not
be very good for you.
When biosolid treated soils
from the OK Ranch were
tested, they found BFRs at a
concentration of .000008%.
The dust that you breath in
your car is likely to have 1,000
times more concentration.
When you brush your teeth,
you have a 1% solution of
antimicrobial compounds
such as Triclosan in your
mouth – one of the reasons
they tell you not to swallow.
OK Ranch soil has .00002%
Triclosan.
Can some of these
substances make their way
into the grass that Lavery is
eating? McCarthy says no. In a
study she has just completed,
Assessment of Ecological
Impacts and Characterization of
Priority Emerging Substances of
Concern, she grew plants in six
dierent samples of municipal
biosolids from across Canada.
Then she sent the plant tissue
to be analyzed.
“None of the plant tissues
had taken up any of these
organic compounds (ESOCs),”
she concludes.
The overall question
McCarthy and her team set
out to answer was: does the
mere presence of biosolids in
the environment equal
adverse impact to living
biota? Their conclusion after
four years and working
through 1,000 scientic
studies was “land application
of biosolids at provincially
regulated rates is a very
sustainable strategy.”
McCarthy says she
approaches a study like this
expecting to nd an impact.
“My job is to get harmful
substances out of the
environment,” she says.
As a researcher, she found
the study frustrating.
“All I see is no impact. No
journal wants to publish a
paper with no impact,” she
jokes. “I’m out of funding.”
“We need to develop an
honest national biosolids
dialogue,” says McCarthy. “We
can shut down pulp mills and
manufacturing plants, we can
get rid of cars, but humans
just keep on pooping.”
They may be helping to restore habitat but are biosolids really safe?
The Sham:
BC Government Biosolids Review
The opening paragraph of this document sets the stage for everything that
follows: “Biosolids are treated and stabilized wastewater treatment residuals ...
largely benecially re-used as a soil amendment in agriculture or other
applications, including landscaping and site reclamation.” This is PR speak – not
science! The bias is palpable. This is not an objective look at relevant science
regarding risks associated with the disposal of sewer sludge. When a review
puts forth only documents which support a pre-determined outcome, it is propa-
ganda. This review is nothing more than a cherry-picked summary of articles
that
support government and industry agenda. There are many scientists who argue
disposing of a city's toxic sewage on farmland presents a serious threat to
human health. Their research was not included as it individually and collectively
raises red ags concerning the practice of land disposal of sewer sludge. Go to
www.biosolidsbattleblog.blogspot.ca to see a selection of overlooked
peer-review articles.
Biosolids in the Nicola Valley
As predicted, the contaminants of real concern were not even examined in the
government’s sampling project: superbugs, prions, nanomaterials, microplastics,
pharmaceuticals, personal care products, (PBDEs) and ame retardants (PBDEs).
Doing so would not support their pre-determined outcomes. This is key to
understanding why this government decided to relegate First Nations
participation in this study to “observer” status. The Chiefs wanted input with
objective, arm’s-length scientists at the table. The government could not allow
that! The Chiefs had no option but to leave this biased project.
A few observations on Minister Polak’s Press statements
Minister Polak proudly states the government is raising the safety limits on two
contaminants in biosolids. Two! Out of the tens of thousands of toxins known to
be in all biosolids, yet there is no mention of all those other worrisome
contaminants. She claims environmentalists around the world are in favour of
dispersing toxic sewer sludge on farmland. How, then, does she explain that the
Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Rodale Institute, the
National Farmers Union, The Suzuki Foundation and hundreds of other
environmental, health and farm organization as well as food processing
companies like Heinz and Del Monte, oppose using “biosolids” to grow our food?
For more information, visit
www.biosolidsbc.com
2016 Corn Silage
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Biosolids from the Lower Mainland being spread on grasslands outside of Clinton. (Tom Walker photo)
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201636
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NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 37
by TOM WALKER
KELOWNA – Consider composting to improve the
long-term viability of your farm. That was the
message delivered at a Compost Matters forum at
the Pacic Agri-Food Research Centre (PARC) in
Summerland earlier this year.
“I see composting in BC has been on the upswing
in the last few years,” says Environmental Farm Plan
advisor Pete Spencer. “But we stopped funding
manure storage; maybe that’s why we are getting
questions on compost,” he quipped.
“It’s all about the nitrogen, but it’s not about the
nitrogen,” says Tom Forge, a PARC research scientist.
“We know that it’s way more than fertilizer but
inevitably, it’s compared to fertilizer.”
While compost comes up short on nitrogen
(composted manure may contain only half the
nitrogen of fresh manure), the composting process
converts the nitrogen to a stable form that is less
susceptible to leaching. Additionally, when you
compost manures with high carbon to nitrogen
ratios, composting reduces the ratio, making
nitrogen immediately available to the plants.
Soil health management
“Think of it as soil health management rather than
just nutrient management,” says Forge. Whether
mixed into the soil or simply used as a mulch,
compost adds organic matter and reduces fertilizer
requirements. In sandy soil, that increased organic
matter helps hold onto moisture, something farmers
should be considering more in times of climate
adaptation. In clay soil, compost can improve
drainage.
There are other benets, Spencer points out.
Composting manure greatly reduces the volume of
the manure, makes it easier to store
and easier to move in instances
where you are not applying it
immediately.
“And it sure improves your social
license,” he adds. “Odour and ies are
not an issue with compost.”
There are some costs involved.
“It takes time to make and time to
understand how to use it,” agrees
Spencer. “A lot of people are used to
having the fertilizer company come
out and do a soil test and tell them
how much to apply. And you have to
have the space to store it.”
If you are looking at using a
windrow turner, for example, they are
expensive but it could be partially funded under
your Environmental Farm Plan, Spencer adds.
You have to follow the rules
There are some regulations to follow. If you
compost your own materials and use the compost
on your own property, the regulatory requirements
from the Agriculture Waste Control Regulation
(AWRC) currently apply. The same is true if you bring
in materials from another location to compost and
use only on your own property. Again, you follow
the AWCR.
However, if you bring in materials to compost
from another location and then distribute the
compost elsewhere, you are now a composting
facility and the rules are much more complex. The
Organic Matter Recycling Regulations and the
Agriculture Land Commission have regulations you
must follow.
Or you could buy it. Many municipal landll sites
operate a composting program to
utilize urban and farm wastes.
Indeed, the Kelowna “GlenGrow”
program is overwhelmed with cherry
culls in July that can jam up their
windrow machine.
“There is this negative perception
that municipal compost must be
bad,” says Forge. In fact, a Class A
compost license requires a rigorous
set of tests be conducted on the
product “compared to, say, raw
manure which has minimal
regulation.”
Composting can be an important
part of your Environmental Farm Plan,
says Spencer.
“It comes under the nutrient management plan.”
The nutrient management plan itself can be
funded at 100% up to $2,000. Once you have a
nutrient management plan and have identied
areas of risk and set out an action plan, you can
apply for funds to support an on-farm composting
program.
Participants are eligible for 30% funding up to
$25,000 for composting technologies that are
appropriate for their generated waste. That may be
the windrow turner or an industrial composting bin.
Funding of 30% up to $5,000 is also available for
engineering and technical design work if you are
planning a cement bin to store your nished
product, for example.
Spencer has a couple of words to would-be
applicants.
“Be organized with your paper work. Work with
your EF planner and be ready to go in April when
they open to receive applications.”
There’s money for farmers who compost
TOM FORGE
Don is using
less electricity.
Don is using
less electricity.
ww.bcefp.ca | 1-866-522-3447
Don Hladych
Vale Farms, Lumby B.C.
Don Hladych
Vale Farms, Lumby B.C.
71 000 Canadian Farms have an
ENVIRONMENTAL FARM PLAN
71 000 Canadian Farms have an
ENVIRONMENTAL FARM PLAN
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201638
Researchers aren’t sure why Jersey and Holstein cows react differently to serotonin but it is inspiring new
research that could help dairy farmers improve herd health. (File photo)
The chemical serotonin has
been shown in a research
study to increase calcium
levels in the blood of Holstein
cows and the milk of Jersey
cows right after birth at a time
when, for many cows, calcium
levels drop.
A research team led by
assistant professor Laura
Hernandez in the Department
of Dairy Science, University of
Wisconsin-Madison, studied
the potential for serotonin to
increase the calcium levels in
both the milk and the blood
of dairy cows. They infused a
chemical that converts to
serotonin into 24 dairy cows in
the run-up to giving birth. Half
the cows were Jersey and half
Serotonin deflects milk fever in dairy cows
were Holstein. Calcium levels
in both the milk and
circulating blood were
measured throughout the
experiment.
Dairy products
such as milk, cheese
and yogurt are the
primary source of
calcium for humans
and the demand for
calcium-rich milk is high. But it
takes a toll on dairy cows and
some ve to 10% of the North
American dairy cow
population suer from
hypocalcaemia (also known as
milk fever), one of the most
highly recognized diseases in
dairy cattle among farmers.
Calcium is essential for
bone, tissue, smooth muscle
and muscle strength and
nerve function. However, the
lowest concentration of blood
calcium usually happens from
12 to 24 hours before calving,
then returns to normal in a
healthy cow within two to
three days after calving.
Hypocalcaemia is a major
health issue in dairy cows. It is
associated with
immunological and digestive
problems, decreased
pregnancy rates and longer
intervals between
pregnancies. In its clinical
form, it can manifest as
muscle tremors, cold
ears/nose, and the cow often
going down due to
insucient calcium for muscle
contraction. These all pose a
problem for dairy farmers
whose protability depends
upon regular pregnancies and
a high yield of calcium-rich
milk.
“All mammals get some
form of hypocalcemia
naturally at parturition to
allow for mobilization of
calcium from bone tissue to
help with milk synthesis,” says
Hernandez. “The diet of an
animal (or human for that
matter) is incapable of
supporting both the mother’s
physiology along with the
synthesis of milk. Calcium can
only be mobilized from bone
when the blood
concentrations fall below the
normal systemic physiological
concentration for an animal.
That being said, dairy animals
(and some litter-bearing
species, like dogs) are more
prone to hypocalcaemia
because of the amount of milk
they are producing. Dairy
cows take a day or two after
parturition to stimulate their
natural bone resorption
mechanism so they can
struggle at birth with
maintaining their own
circulating calcium
concentrations.”
Prevention
While there has been
research into the treatment of
hypocalcaemia, not much has
focused on prevention. In
rodents, it has been shown
that serotonin (a naturally-
occurring chemical commonly
associated with feelings of
happiness) plays a role in
maintaining calcium levels.
Based on this knowledge,
Hernandez and her team
investigated the potential for
serotonin to increase calcium
levels in both the milk and
blood of dairy cows.
“Our research has shown so
far that serotonin stimulates
production of the parathyroid
hormone-related protein by
the mammary gland,” she
said. “This hormone is
naturally produced by the
mammary gland during
lactation in order to activate
the mechanisms necessary to
stimulate bone resorption and
therefore calcium liberation
into the circulation.”
While serotonin improved
the overall calcium levels in
both the Holstein and Jersey
cows, it happened in dierent
ways. Treated Holstein cows
had higher levels of calcium in
their blood, but lower calcium
in their milk (compared to
controls). The reverse was true
in treated Jersey cows and the
higher milk calcium levels
were particularly obvious in
Jerseys at day 30 of lactation,
suggesting a role for
serotonin in maintaining
levels throughout lactation.
The serotonin treatment had
no eect on milk yield, feed
intake or on levels of
hormones required for
lactation.
“Most of our research has
focused on the Holstein dairy
cow on a large scale,” she said.
“We do know that Jersey cows
have higher milk calcium
concentrations, as well as total
fat and protein, than a
Holstein. We are unsure why
the two breeds respond in
dierent ways but as dairy
scientists, we do need to do
more research on Jersey cows
on the whole because it
appears that their physiology
is dierent than that of a
Holstein.”
The team is currently
working on numerous
experiments to better
understand the specic
mechanisms that underlie
serotonin’s actions during
lactation and how it varies
between the two breeds. The
hope is that a procedure
using serotonin can be
developed as a preventative
measure against
hypocalcaemia which would
allow dairy farmers to
maintain their cows’ health
and milk production, as well
as business protability.
The results of the study
were published in the Journal
of Endocrinology.
Research
MARGARET EVANS
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But Holsteins respond differently than Jerseys
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NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 39
by CATHY GLOVER
WILLIAMS LAKE – Commercial cattle prices may be slumping
but there appears to be some optimism among seed stock
producers given healthy returns at two purebred sales this fall.
An outcross Red Angus heifer calf consigned by Houston-
based Blast Angus sold for $11,000.00 at the Pacic Invitational
Sale in Williams Lake, September 24. Billed as a “genetic gem,”
the heifer traces back to Frank and Dianne Strimbold’s Lady
Heather pedigree. With a Black Angus parent on both sides of
her pedigree, Red Blast Lady Heather 36D is a complete
outcross for Red Angus breeders and more than enough reason
for Six Mile Ranch in Saskatchewan to shell out big bucks to
own her. Another heifer calf entry from Brent and Lia Long’s
Blast Angus, Blast Blackbird 18D, sold for $5,250.00 to Dunlevy
Ranch in Williams Lake.
This is the fth year for the all-breed female sale in Williams
Lake. Prices were decent overall. A bred Angus heifer, Harvest
Princess 71C, consigned by Harvest Angus out of Prince
George, sold for $4,500.00 to Clint Ellis of Aldergrove.
A Hereford heifer calf, SF 668 Ruby 1D, consigned by Smith
Farms of Abbotsford, sold for $4,000.00 to Everett Himech of
Houston.
Harris Ranch of Tatlayoko Lake took a fancy to the top selling
Simmental consignments, both coming out of Crosby Cattle in
Vanderhoof. They paid $4,000.00 for the high selling heifer calf,
XBAR Miss Diva 20D, and $4,400.00 for Crosby’s bred heifer,
XBAR Countessa 38C.
This year’s donation heifer, a Red Angus from Mike and
Brenda Wheeler’s North 40 Red Angus herd in Vanderhoof,
went to Tom deWaal who sent her back through the ring where
she sold for $2,800.00, half of which deWaal donated back to BC
Angus. In all, 27 sale lot averaged $3,348.00.
Tlell bull off to Semex
Prices were equally impressive for Richardson Ranch. This
September marked the seventh year Don and Leslie Richardson
of Tlell, on Haidi Gwaii, have hosted their online sale. (Sale
prices include freight o Haida Gwaii and delivery as far east as
Lloydminster.)
High seller was a bull calf, Tlell 200Z Dandy 1D, who sold to
Semex Alliance in Guelph for $9,000.00. Out of a rst calf Tlell-
bred heifer and by an American bull, 1D had a birth weight of
just 78 lbs but his 205-day weight clocked over 800 lbs. Semex
has renamed him (Tlell 200Z Totem 1D), the Richardsons have
retained 100 straws of semen and will show him at FairFair
International in Edmonton, November 9 to 13, along with three
other Tlell-bred bulls before he goes to stud.
Matts Red Angus in Smithers picked up yearling bull, Tlell
10Y City Boy 1C, for $4,400.00. A show heifer, Tlell 10Y Darlin
16D, sold for $4,900.00 to Garilyn Morris in Red Deer, AB.
Three exportable embryos sold for $1,650.00 and are headed
to Moeskaer Herefords in Denmark. Others went to Germany, a
testament to how far-reaching the online sale has become.
In all, ten lots averaged $4,430.00. Twelve embryos on oer
averaged $492.00. The sale ran over four days in late
September.
Purebred cattle sell well
Prices respectable at fall sales
Best buds
And winners, too! BC 4-H member Mariah Mitchell’s Speckle Park cross calf, Macey, was the reserve
champion calf at the Provincial Winter Fair in Barriere this fall. (Photo courtesy of the North Okanagan
4-H Beef Club)
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BC ANGUS
TOM DEWAAL . PRESIDENT . 250.960.0022
JILL SAVAGE . SECRETARY . 250.679-2813
www.bcangus.ca
www.bcangus.ca
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201640
by RONDA PAYNE
ABBOTSFORD – Weeds are one of the most
expensive issues in a vegetable eld. Spraying or
hand-picking takes time and money so the method
chosen has to be as eective as possible.
Dr. Darren Robinson, horticultural crop weed
management associate professor with the University
of Guelph, has been studying the control of weeds
in vegetable crops for a number of years. He spoke
about his most recent ndings at the Pacic
Agriculture Show last January.
“I work on weed management systems that work
on the production systems the growers currently
have,” he says. “The goal is to start with a clean eld
and to keep it clean.”
Having spent a considerable amount of time
studying weeds in corn and other crops, Robinson
advises growers to choose the best pre-emergence
herbicide for the eld by taking into account the
strengths and weaknesses of post-emergence
herbicides. The pre-emergence products he looked
at were Primextra II Magnum and Integrity.
The costs for both products were found to be
similar for 10 to 12 week controls in a similar range
of weeds like annual grasses and broadleaf weeds.
While Robinson notes corn is fairly tolerant to the
ingredient atrazine, he also says certain conditions
can increase the potential for crop injury.
Re-cropping can be an issue depending upon farm
practices.
“There are several vegetable crops that can be
injured the year after Primextra II Magnum is applied
and that denitely is a consideration,” he says. “We
still get signicant yield reductions.”
Those yield reductions can be more than 50%
and Robinson has found it’s even
worse when Callisto is mixed with it.
Another downside is the fact there is
some control over pigweed and
lamb’s quarters, but not full season
control. There is no control from
Primextra II Magnum in triazine-
resistant weeds.
While Integrity is slightly cheaper,
the price dierence is minimal for
about the same weed control.
Robinson notes there is control of
triazine-resistant weeds with
Integrity, but it’s not as eective on
yellow nutsedge as Primextra II
Magnum.
There were no crop rotation or
recropping issues with Integrity but Robinson notes,
“we can’t use early post-emergence in corn,”
meaning Integrity is not as timing-exible as
Primextra II Magnum. “Integrity causes injury if
applied post-emergence. It can go to as severe as
plant death.”
Knowing the difference
For post-emergence options, Robinson points to
Accent and Callisto. Like the pre-emergence
treatments, with these tools, it’s necessary to know
what weeds are the most problematic, such as
understanding the dierence between crabgrass
and fall panicum.
Accent did not oer any residual control and
Robinson found crabgrass and yellow foxtail dicult
to control due to continual emergence. This product
can also impact recropping but the risks are much
less than that of other products, except in the case
of hybrid corn.
“There are some hybrids that are
really, really sensitive to Accent,” he
says.
These cases of injury were quite
pronounced when Accent was mixed
with Basagran causing what
Robinson notes as “signicant injury,”
while Pardner mixed with Accent
caused a lesser degree of injury.
Pardner is good in controlling
lambs quarters but not pigweed. It
can also injure corn, possibly setting
growth back if applied in hot, humid
conditions.
Callisto oered an excellent
extended period of control to
crabgrass if applied post-emergence but, again,
hybrid varieties are at risk.
“If applied post-emergence, we can see signicant
hybrid sensitivity,” Robinson says.”
It also can cause impacts on growth the following
year. While the plant matter above ground is
healthy, below ground (as in carrot or onion) growth
may be an issue.
Permit has been known to impact some hybrid
varieties as has Basagran Forte. The latter can also
cause injury in non-hybrid varieties but is generally
temporary. Robinson also notes Impact mixed with
atrazine will provide good post-emergence control
of lambs quarters, pigweed, wild buckwheat, wild
mustard and yellow foxtail.
“You can’t just relay on pre-emergence or post-
emergence [products] to control these weeds,”
Robinson summarizes. “You have to have a strategy
that looks at both.”
Preparing for next year’s weeds in corn and other crops
DR. DARREN ROBINSON
FCC
Drive Away
Hunger
Thanks a million
(well 6.75 million, actually)
Our generous partners, community volunteers and
supporters helped FCC Drive Away Hunger make a
difference to Canadians for the 13th year in a row,
collecting 6.75 million meals. Our deepest thanks to all.
Baker Newby LLP | Clearbrook Grain & Milling Co. Ltd. | Lulu Island Winery Ltd.
RDM Lawyers LLP | Rossdown Farms & Natural Foods
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NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 41
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The BC Sheep Federation
hosted their annual meeting
and two days of speakers in
Williams Lake in late
September, attracting over 75
breeders from all over the
province.
Dr. Woody Lane, a nutrition
and forage specialist from
Oregon, led an interesting
discussion that highlighted
the importance of letting
grass rest after grazing and
not cutting until it had grown
back to at least three inches,
and up to eight in height. This,
he said, "gives the grass
enough top growth to utilize
sun and warmth and send the
resulting energy down to their
roots so they can grow
further, and in their turn, send
more energy, minerals and
vitamins into the top growth."
"Worm larvae," he noted,
“does not usually climb over
three inches from the ground
so if the sheep are eating from
the leaf growth above that
level, they will not be
constantly reinfecting
themselves with a new load of
parasites."
After ingestion by the
sheep, it is these nal stage
larvae that complete their life
cycle as worms, which lay
more eggs and get dropped
on the pasture to further the
cycle and do ongoing
damage.
Lane elaborated
further.
“In hotter summer
areas such as the
Interior and further
north, the larvae try to
keep away from the midday
summer heat and migrate
downwards towards the
cooler ground, whereas in
cooler and wetter areas, such
as the Fraser Valley, they may
climb to and stay at that
height."
Thus grazing above the
recommended three inch
level increases grass growth
and the sheeps’ uptake of
important nutrients, and also
prevents or very much
reduces the sheep reinfecting
themselves with a new load of
parasites.
Lane's and Dr. Stephanie
Krumsiek’s presentations were
Let your grass grow
Wool Gatherings
JO SLEIGH
especially popular because of
their engaging and energetic
delivery, their down-to-earth
practical approaches based on
established research, their
academic backgrounds and
the way the information
coming from both of them
melded together: Lane’s from
a nutritional and pasture
management perspective;
Krumsiek's from a parasite
control viewpoint.
Conference guests Erin
Wilson from Burns Lake and
Gord Blankstein from Langley
also found Lane’s comments
on pasture management
particularly engaging.
Wilson took notes.
“To check your eld’s
holding capacity," Lane told
his audience, “you might try
this method. Take a 12x11.5”
area in a typical area of the
eld. Cut the grass there
down low to the ground. Dry
it out (in the microwave or by
other means), weigh it and
multiply this by 100. Divide
the above result by the
following: Multiply the
number of sheep you want to
graze there and the amount
of dry matter intake they will
need according to their body
weight and condition using
published tables to calculate
this.
“This will give you the
number of days you can keep
the sheep there before
moving them on to their next
Brian Shaw from Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers demonstrated how to skirt, roll and pack
eeces during the BC Sheep Breeders convention in Williams Lake, September 30. Shaw also discussed
the best sort of skirting table and the selection of breed types and crosses to maximize the quality of
eece. (Photo courtesy of Mike Doherty)
Sheep producers flock to conference
for info on forage, parasites
See SHEEP page 42
The Lower Mainland Sheep Producers Association
is celebrating 40 Years in the community!
We would like to invite our members, past, present
and past Presidents to join us for an evening of fun.
St. Georges Anglican Church Hall
9160 Church Street, Fort Langley
7:30pm | December 1
st
, 2016
For more info or to join us please contact Marianne.
sheepproducers@gmail.com
604.530.8670
www
.lmspa.ca
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 2016
42
pasture or, if necessary, a
holding paddock or barn."
Research has proven this
method to be both practical
and accurate.
Dwayne Webb from
Quesnel found Lane’s
suggestion to try a mixture of
kale and rye grass (or a similar
combination of brassica and
grass) to increase feed value
and extension of the growing
season useful. Lane will be
publishing a second book in
2017 titled Forages and
Grazing, to be stocked by
CCWG.
“His advice on how best to
prepare the weaning of bottle
lambs at about four weeks of
age might really save us,” said
Webb.
Krumsiek, a veterinarian in
Williams Lake, compared
available dewormers, the
worm’s life cycle, recent and
upcoming research, and
mentioned there may be two
new dewormers available in
2017.
"This was the best $90 that I
have ever spent,” said Wilson,
after the conference had
ended.
"This was so informative
and helpful that it is dicult
to say which was the most
useful and interesting," agreed
Ian Brennan from 100 Mile
House. “We have been a bit
inclined to pass on previous
workshops or talks but having
been to this one, we will
denitely be going to the next
ones.”
Cariboo Sheep Breeders
Association president Mike
Doherty expressed his
gratitude to the membership
for their enthuasiasm in
organizing the conference.
Christmas party
Sheep producers in the
Fraser Valley are invited
attend the Lower Mainland
Sheep Producers Association
annual Christmas potluck,
December 3 at St Andrews
Church in Fort Langley.
LMSPHA hosts monthly
meetings, usually with an
educational component,
September to June. This is a
great time to meet some of
your fellow breeders.
SHEEP SYMPOSIUM
FROM PAGE 41
I recently wrote a business
feature article about a
company owner who retired
after serving his community
for three decades. His
reputation for integrity and
service is outstanding and as
part of his choice for a
replacement, he went to great
lengths to ensure that
whoever purchased the
company would uphold those
standards.
Next, because he and the
company are located outside
a major metropolitan centre, it
was essential that his
replacement be willing to
re-locate with the intent of
remaining there.
Lastly, this person needed
to accept the counsel and
mentorship of those more
experienced. Along with the
owner, most of his employees
stayed during the transition,
oering help and support.
As I pondered this month
of November and its
implications, I recalled that
article. Though not
thematically related, it
reminded me of the poem so
many of us learned as
students in elementary school.
“In Flanders Field, the poppies
grow… To you, from failing
hands we throw the Torch, be
yours to hold it high, if ye
break faith with us who die,
we shall not sleep though
poppies grow
in Flanders
Field.”
Passing the
torch is not a
matter to be
taken lightly.
The gentleman featured in
my article certainly did not. He
noted academic qualications
alone were not sucient; as
important as knowledge was,
it needed to be supplemented
with the ability to relate to
and care for each client.
For me and for all
contributors to and readers of
Country Life in BC, the torch
has been passed from Peter
Wilding to Cathy Glover. From
all that I’ve observed over the
six or more years since I’ve
had the privilege of
contributing to this paper, the
choice of successor has been
excellent. I want to to express
my great appreciation to
Peter, to Cathy and to the
readers of my column. I didn’t
have the privilege of being
raised on a farm but from my
grandparents and from my
mother, I learned the deep
satisfaction that comes with
hands in the dirt, carrots from
the backyard garden and a
freezer and pantry well
stocked with food. Years spent
Royal delegation
in rural Saskatchewan only
intensied my appreciation for
the incredible work done by
our farmers. My great thanks
to all!
Armed forces
Up there with them is the
honour that needs to be
bestowed on members of the
Canadian Armed Forces. Be
they army, navy or air, it is
because they have given of
themselves for the sake of our
Passing the torch
Members of the Boundary “C” 4-H Club (from left to right, Marijka van Kuik, Alec Elliot, Sarah
MacDonald, Jade Fossen, Adele Fossen, leader Greg MacDonald and Analia van Kuik) were the ofcial
representatives of BC 4-H when Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, visited
Mission Hill Winery on their royal tour through BC in September. (Photo courtesy of Boundary “C”
4-H Club)
freedom. It is for each of us to
follow their example in our
personal corners of the world,
to remain staunch in our
commitment to uphold the
principles of integrity and to
be willing to learn from every
circumstance.
When Lieutenant Colonel
John McCrae composed his
now world-famous poem
during the second battle of
Ypres, Belgium on May 3,
1915, he probably could not
have imagined the power of
his words. What he longed for,
however, was that the torch of
freedom from war and all that
provoked it in the rst place
would be passed to every
succeeding generation. To all
those current members of the
Canadian military, thank you!
In closing this monthly
epistle, I send my
congratulations and my best
wishes: Peter, may you and
your wife, Linda, enjoy all
you’ve wished for in this new
season of your life; Cathy,
continue holding the torch
high! Peter has chosen well!
celebrating Canada’s 150 years
Reserve
your tickets now!
space is limited
Sponsor
support our gala
new options available
Wednesday January 25, 2017
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proudly
sponsored by:
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LINDA WEGNER
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
43
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Knives, which are mounted on our slide plate,
improve processing and feedout of high forage
rations. Together with our four other exclusive
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CHECK YOUR
POSTURE – SITTING
OR STANDING
by SUSAN MCIVER
OKANAGAN FALLS –
Former marine engineer and
environmental entrepreneur
David Rendina has turned his
innovative talents to methods
of producing better grapes
and making outstanding wine.
“While travelling the world
at sea, you have a lot of time
to think about what you want
to accomplish,” Rendina says,
reecting on his time as a
marine engineer and his
decision to help the
environment in practical ways.
Rendina’s intellectual
property patents and business
interests include a patent for
two-dimensional materials
(sheets of substances a single
molecule or a few nanometres
thick) that improves the
storage of hydrogen gas and
the functioning of batteries
used in electric-powered
automobiles.
“In conjunction with the
University of Texas, I worked
on a catalyst for removing
sulphur from diesel fuels,”
Rendina said.
In 2010, Rendina and wife
Beverlee Jones bought a four-
hectare vineyard in Okanagan
Falls, almost exclusively
planted to Pinot Blanc grapes,
and opened Black Dog Winery
two years later.
The switch from engineer
to winemaker isn’t so
unexpected considering that
Rendina is the fourth
generation of his family to
make wine, starting with his
great-grandfather in Italy.
“I learned how to make
Pinot Bianco from my
grandfather in New York when
I was nine years old, working
in the evening,” Rendina
recalled.
Today, Rendina and Jones
make 2,000 cases of their
Cirius Black Pinot Bianco
annually from 30-year old
vines in the classic Northern
Italian style.
Harvested at peak
sweetness, the grapes are
pressed, not crushed, to allow
the juice to run free.
“This technique results in a
full-palate wine that reects
more of the character of the
area,” Rendina says.
Rendina and Jones strive to
raise grapes using as little
pesticide as possible.
Last year, they captured
ozone from air, infused it into
water and sprayed the
ozonated water on grapes.
“It acts like a bleach, kills
the fungi and does not leave
any chemical residue on the
grapes,” Rendina explains.
Preliminary evidence
suggests that ozonated water
may remove smoke taint from
grapes.
Rendina has also built a
mobile cross-ow ltration
system to primarily service
smaller vineyards.
“In a single pass, the system
takes wine to a level that is
clear enough for bottling,” he
explains.
He also has a business,
Okeg, which supplies kegs to
wineries.
“We can put the ltered
wine into kegs or the winery’s
own tanks,” he says.
Currently, Rendina is
working on ways to use the
marc (sometimes called
pomace) – the skins, stems
and seeds leftovers from the
wine making process.
“If fermentation has
occurred, we take o the
alcohol to make grappa,” says
Rendina, who may work with a
local distillery to make the
marc-based brandy.
The alcohol-free marc is fed
to soldier y larvae which in
turn are fed to sh kept in
small ponds.
The robust sh produce
more ospring with all sh
excreting nitrogen-rich waste
product into the pond water
which is used to irrigate and
nurture the vines.
“I won’t make any money
from this. I’m just trying to
solve problems,” Rendina says.
Meanwhile, he and Jones
are kept busy in the vineyard
and cellar and enjoying life.
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These vineyard owners are problem solvers
An inquisitive mind and a taste
for wine has made the transition
from marine engineer to captain
of the vineyard an easy one for
David Rendina. (Susan McIver
photo)
With a little help
from their Italian
heritage
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 2016
44
CHILLIWACK – The growing demand for local product
has created lots of opportunities for BC agriculture
producers and processors, Meadow Valley Meats general
manager Chris Les told Chilliwack Agricultural Tour
participants in September. MVM is one operation
capitalizing on those opportunities.
“I think local is a trend, not a fad,” Les said.
MVM began its life as Fraser Valley Meats, a retail
butcher shop in Chilliwack, in 1969. It transitioned to a full-
service abattoir and wholesaler early this decade, building
its main facilities in Chilliwack in 2010 and expanding
them two years ago.
“We now have six locations in the Lower Mainland
including abattoirs in Surrey and Pitt Meadows, seven
delivery trucks and 140 employees. Half work in
Chilliwack,” Les told the group.
MVM processes about 10,000 head of beef and about
7,500 lambs and goats annually as well as distributing
beef, poultry and pork from other suppliers in BC and
Alberta. Their customer base includes other butcher
shops, specialty retailers and white table restaurants.
Recently, the company started sourcing beef from
northern Okanagan ranches, labeling it as 63 Acres
Premium Beef and oering full traceability from the farm
to the retailer. Although most BC beef goes to abattoirs in
Alberta and Washington, Les says MVM’s new 63 Acres
program “keeps $4 million of beef in BC annually.”
Abattoir cashing in on
demand for local product
Room for more expansion
The hop revival in Chilliwack is a work in progress
Members of the Chilliwack Agricultural Tour watch a load of hops being fed into the harvester at Chilliwack
Hops. (David Schmidt photos)
Meadow Valley Meats general manager Chris Les look on as a
meat cutter demonstrates the ne art of cutting up a quarter of
beef during the Chilliwack Agricultural Tour.
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Stories by DAVID SCHMIDT
CHILLIWACK – With Molson
Coors set to relocate its
brewery in Chilliwack, it was
no surprise that the Chilliwack
Agricultural Commission
chose to feature hops and
beer on their 2016 tour in
September.
Hops were once a staple
crop in eastern Abbotsford
and Chilliwack, with over 3,000
acres in production. However,
by the mid 1970’s, all those
hops had been taken out as
large breweries reduced the
hop content of their beer and
growers in Yakima Valley took
over the remaining market.
That changed in the early
2000s with the advent of craft
and microbreweries and brew
pubs. There are now over
5,000 small breweries in the
US and close to 150 in BC.
Those breweries not only use
more hops but many have
built their business on being
“local,” which includes using
local hops.
That created an opportunity
for local hop production to
again become protable.
Leading the resurgence is
John Lawrence of Chilliwack
Hops. What began as a
retirement project ve years
ago is now a booming
business employing 15.
“I came in at the right time,”
Lawrence told the tour, saying
he grew about 15 varieties of
hops on 200 acres this year
and expects to be at 350 to
400 acres next year. Most hops
are grown on a sharecropper
basis. The landowner provides
the land, Chilliwack Hops
provides the plants,
management, harvesting and
marketing and the company
and the landowner share the
revenue.
To do that, Chilliwack Hops
has the largest hop nursery in
Canada, producing 100,000
plants in 10 greenhouses,
three hop harvesters (each
harvesting an acre per day),
expansive dryers, a pelletizer
and vacuum packaging
equipment. The dryers and
pelletizer turn 1,500 pounds of
fresh hops into 400 pounds of
dried pellets. Each pound of
dried hop pellets is enough to
produce 10 gallons of India
Pale Ale or 40 gallons of lager
beer.
“It takes just 24 hours from
harvest to packaging,”
Lawrence says.
A 2013 study said BC
breweries could support 500
acres of hops but that number
has since grown exponentially.
Both the number and size of
local craft breweries are
increasing. Central City, BC’s
largest craft brewery, alone
uses 150 acres of hops,
Lawrence stated, adding he is
also developing a growing
export market.
“We have sold our hops to
30 US states, Mexico, Costa
Rica and Russia. Our goal is to
become an exporting country
instead of a net importer.”
Tim Armstrong Memorial Bursary
in Agriculture and Journalism
In memory of JR (Tim) Armstrong's outstanding contribution to
British Columbia journalism and the agricultural industry, a bursary
in the minimum amount of $1,000 is awarded each year from the proceeds
of the JR (Tim) Armstrong Memorial Fund. The fund is raised by public
subscription and administered by the BC Farm Writers' Association.
Applications for the 2016 scholarship are now being accepted.
Contact Bob Mitchell 604-951-8223 or robert_mitchell@telus.net.
We are pleased to congratulate
Kasha Foster of North Vancouver on
being awarded the Tim Armstrong
Memorial Bursary for 2015. At the
time of receiving the award Kasha
was enrolled in third year in the
Global Resource Systems program at
the University of British Columbia in
the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.
www.bcfwa.ca
When we left o last time,
rehearsals for the spring
musical had turned steamy as
Deborah and Doug locked lips
with the newly appointed
co-director enthusiastically
oering encouragement.
Deborah Henderson and
Doug McLeod drew away
from one another stiy. The
spontaneous kiss lingered on
their lips. Val Zimmer stared
from one to the other.
“Wow! I can’t imagine how
we could make that any
better. Keep singing it that
way and you’ll bring the
house down.”
Deborah looked briey into
Doug’s eyes, then dropped
her head and looked into the
wings. Worry crossed her face.
Doug stared across at her.
The moment was becoming
awkward.
“So, are we done here for
now?” asked Doug.
Val glanced at her watch.
“Yes, I think we can leave it
here for now. I’m expecting
Mrs. Eberhardt and Mrs.
Lundgren to discuss the sets
any minute.”
“We’ll be o then,” said
Doug. “Thank you, Val. Give us
a shout when you get the
rehearsal schedule sorted.”
“Thanks, Val. I’ll be in
touch,” said Deborah.
Deborah headed for the
door. Doug followed her to
her car.
Apologies
“Deborah, I’m sorry. I don’t
know what I was thinking.”
“Don’t be sorry. I could
have stopped you. Did I seem
unwilling?”
Doug shook his head.
“No.”
“Maybe it’s like the song
says: “You deserve a gal who’s
willin’.” But you know there’s
nowhere for this to go, right?
I’m not going to complicate
the kids’ lives.”
“What about you?”
Deborah shook her head.
“I can’t complicate my life
and leave the kids out of it.”
“And Kenneth?”
Deborah chuckled.
“Yes. What about Kenneth?
Everything about Kenneth is
complicated enough already.
All the more reason to avoid
any more.”
“You’re right. Do you think
we can make it through this
musical?”
“I think things might be
more complicated if we don’t
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
45
elevator and hammered the
down button. When the
elevator door opened 20
seconds later, he found
himself face to face with
Janice.
“Janice.”
“Hello, Kenneth. You look
tired.”
“I need to talk to you.”
“Here in the hallway?”
“How can I see you
somewhere else? Swift won’t
even tell me when you’re in
the oce and you don’t
answer any messages I send.
Can we go somewhere and
talk now? For a few minutes
even?”
Janice glanced down at her
phone.
“I have a meeting in 15
minutes. Come back to the
oce and I’ll see you now.
And remember, through that
door, I’m Ms. Newberry.”
Kenneth nodded and
followed her back into the
oce.
Erica Swift saw them both
at the same instant. She
looked perplexed.
“Hello, Erica,” said Janice. “I
will be in Mr. Henderson’s
oce for a short meeting.
Please let me know when Mr.
Shaer arrives.”
“I have a message for you,”
said Erica.
Janice asked Kenneth to
wait for her in his oce, then
asked for the message.
“It’s not really a message. I
just thought that if it’s
something important with Mr.
Henderson, you might want
me to schedule something
formal.”
“There is no need for that,
thank you. Mr. Grimwood has
brought your concerns about
Mr. Henderson’s oce hours
to my attention and I am
taking the opportunity to
discuss it with him. The sooner
Wrong place, wrong time for the Hendersons
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we deal with this sort of thing
the better, correct?”
“Of course,” said Erica,
chagrined that Mr. Grimwood
had shared her tattle.
Irregular hours
Janice walked through
Kenneth’s door.
“Mr. Henderson, it has come
to my attention that you have
been keeping irregular hours.”
She put a nger to her lips
to halt Kenneth’s reply and
shut the door.
“So there’s a reason for this.
You must be aware that you’re
in a shbowl in here? She
reports everything to
Grimwood. What is it you need
to talk to me about?”
“You must know what it is. I
can’t stand us being this way. I
want a chance to make things
right again.”
He sounds pathetic,
thought Janice.
“I won’t do this and you
can’t do this unless you want
everything to blow up in your
face and you can bet I have no
intention of being collateral
damage if that happens. You
look dreadful. There’s nothing
you’ll have to attend to for the
next couple of weeks. Why
don’t you take some of the
background reading home
tomorrow and work from
there? I can square that with
Grimwood.”
Kenneth nodded.
“Alright, but there’s
something I need to know. Are
you seeing that guy you were
with at New Years?”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake
Kenneth, have you heard a
word I’ve said? Forget us and
go home and get some rest.”
“I need to know.”
Janice shook her head in
disbelief as she walked to the
door. She opened it, then
turned back to him.
“Oh, one more thing, Mr.
Henderson. The answer to
your question is a denite
no.”
To be continued ...
make it through. But we’re
going to have to forget about
the hugging and kissing;
agreed?”
“Agreed,” said Doug.
They went their separate
ways but were each in the
other’s mind for the
rest of the
afternoon. Deborah
relived the squeeze
of Doug McLeod’s
powerful arms and
the rm and ardent
pressure of his lips.
She thought of Kenneth’s
passive embrace and tried to
remember how long it had
been since he kissed her as
passionately, or if he ever had.
Doug could still feel the
electricity that tingled in his
spine when he put his arms
around Deborah and the smell
of her hair and how she’d
stiened and forced her lips
against his when they kissed.
Each of them silently cursed
their timing and circumstances
and stared apprehensively at
the complicated emotional
voyage that lay before them.
Obsessed
Kenneth was chang
uncomfortably in his oce.
Nothing of any importance
crossed his desk and his
interactions with Erica Swift
verged on outright hostility.
Janice Newberry was seldom
in her oce and was
unavailable to him when she
was. He made a habit of taking
late lunches and drinking
Scotch all afternoon. He was
obsessed with Janice and
increasingly desperate to
plead his aection to her.
He left his oce in the
middle of a Thursday
afternoon after a terse
exchange regarding the time
of his return with Erica Swift.
He walked sullenly to the
The Woodshed
Chronicles
BOB COLLINS
COMMITTED TO AGRICULTURE in the FRASER VALLEY
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NH L170 SKIDSTEER – U31143........................................................16,500
QUALITY USED EQUIPMENT
NH 195 MANURE SPREADER HYD. APRON DRIVE,
DBL CHAIN, GOOD CONDITION – U31333................................. 15,900
LOEWEN MIXER (HORIZONTAL) ..................................................... 5,000
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • NOVEMBER 201646
As the weather gets colder and the days shorter, our
attention turns to food that’s comforting and lling as well as
warming. Gone are the light salads and cold plates that are so
refreshing on hot summer days – it’s time to welcome stews
and soups, casseroles and more substantial fare.
To save time, I like to make bigger portions of favourite
meals so there are leftovers that re-heat well to make a second
meal a couple of days later, or meals that freeze well so there
are portions tucked away
for a quick meal down
the road.
At this time of year,
we also have dierent
options when it comes
to the vegetables that
grace our tables and nourish our bodies. In an eort to
maintain my commitment to eating fresh and local foods
grown by my neighbours and friends in agriculture, I opt for
long-keeping root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, turnips,
potatoes, onions and rutabagas. Luckily, we have a burgeoning
greenhouse sector that provides us with cucumbers, peppers,
tomatoes and a variety of other vegetables.
So, our options are not very limited. Even on the fruit side of
things, we not only have fresh BC apples and pears available to
us through the winter months, but also freshly-frozen berries
and other fruits which were grown, harvested and processed in
summer to capture and keep those avours alive for us to
brighten the winter months.
Many of us also canned summer favourites such as tomatoes
and peaches or dried herbs and fruit, ready to release their
avours when akes of snow are spiralling down outside.
So, dream up a menu, push away the dark with candles and
relight, and invite some friends over for a meal of homegrown
BC meat, sh, cheese and produce.
BEEF AND SPINACH CASSEROLE
CREAMY CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES
Jude’s Kitchen
JUDIE STEEVES
Get cozy with
comfort food
This is a great dish for a potluck supper or a meal-in-one-dish dinner for the family or for company. All
the mess and dishes can be cleaned up ahead of time, then the casserole popped into the oven before
guests arrive, or at the last minute, while you relax. You could add chopped kale to this as well and it’s
delicious. I have made extra to freeze for another meal a week or two later. Pair it with the CedarCreek
2013 Platinum Desert Ridge Merlot which has complex, spicy avours that are perfect with the
complex, spicy avours of this special casserole.
1 lb. (454 g) lean ground beef 12 oz. (300 g) spinach or kale 1 c. (250 ml) mushrooms
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) nutmeg 1 tsp. (5 ml) oregano salt and pepper to taste
1 egg 1/2 c. (125 ml) Swiss cheese 1 large onion
1/4 c. (60 ml) butter 1/4 c. (60 ml) our 1 c. (250 ml) chicken stock
1 c. (250 ml) milk 2 c. (500 ml) uncooked pasta 1/4 c. (60 ml) Swiss cheese
• Brown ground beef and wilt chopped spinach (or kale) and sliced mushrooms. (I use a wok.)
Turn o the heat and add beaten egg and spices.
• In another fry pan, chop up onion and saute in some of the butter until limp, then add the rest
of the butter. When it's melted, add the our and stir and cook for a minute.
• Slowly add warm chicken stock and whisk in well until it thickens, then gradually add milk until
it thickens. Stir in a half cup of cheese.
• Meanwhile cook pasta such as macaroni, shells, bow ties or corkscrews until just 'al dente.'
• Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
• In a large greased casserole dish, layer pasta, ground beef mixture, sauce and then repeat,
ending with sauce. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese.
• Bake for about 30 minutes. Serves 4-5.
This is simple and delicious; an easy one-dish meal to make in a hurry for company or just the family.
You could substitute pork for the chicken for a quite dierent avour and you could add your choice of
spices such as a garam masala with the salt and pepper for a change. Serve with rice or pasta for a
complete meal. It can be re-heated in the microwave, in the oven or on top of the stove in 20 minutes
or less, ready to serve.
3 lb. (1.4 kg) chicken 1 large onion 1 c. (250 ml) mushrooms
1 c. (250 ml) carrots 1/2 c. (125 ml) celery 1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper 1 tbsp. (15 ml) oil 2 tbsp. (30 ml) our
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) pepper 1 c. (250 ml) plain yogurt
• I like to use thigh pieces, but any will do just ne, even a whole chicken which has been
disjointed. Skin the pieces.
• Chop vegetables and set aside.
• Pre-heat oven to 325 F.
• Briey brown chicken in a Dutch oven or frypan in a drizzle of oil.
• Remove to a plate, or to the casserole dish you’re planning to cook it in.
• Cook chopped onion in hot oil over medium heat until just limp, then add to chicken pieces.
• Lower the heat, and in the remaining fat, briey brown our, salt and pepper, stirring
constantly.
• Stir in plain (I use fat-free) yogurt, blending until smooth and thick.
• If using a Dutch oven, add chopped vegetables to the sauce, and return chicken and onions.
Otherwise, pour sauce over the chicken in the casserole and mix in chopped vegetables.
• Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until vegetables and chicken are cooked through. Serves 5-6.
Comfort food at its best: beef and spinach casserole. (Judie Steeves photo)
WHOOPS! In the October edition of Jude’s Kitchen, we neglected to
add the headline for the second recipe, Simple, Spicy Soft Tacos,
above the bold text, “Taco Seasoning.” We apologize for the
oversight and any confusion it may have caused.
PLEASE MAIL TO
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www.countrylifeinbc.com
NOVEMBER 2016 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 47
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