Flavio Nienow photo Debbie Evans, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s agriculture coordinator, moved from Salmon Arm for her new position, which started on Nov. 1, 2017.

Climate change could help producers in northern B.C.

Agriculture coordinator brings excitement and vision to the region

  • Dec. 4, 2017 1:30 a.m.

Although climate change is expected to cause several environmental threats around the world, the warmer climate could actually bring opportunities to northern B.C. producers.

“As climate change happens, our growing period is changing, so there are opportunities in looking at what we could be producing here,” explained Debbie Evans, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s (RDBN) new agriculture coordinator.

READ MORE: Challenges of producers in northern B.C.

“Up in Smithers, there are a lot of people growing hardneck garlic. If you go to any of the specialty garlic places you will see the softneck garlic, which doesn’t grow here. But as we get into our climate change, there is a potential that it [softneck garlic] could start growing here. So you could potentially have more value added products that you could put in here.”

“That’s the exciting part of this position,” she added. “[To think about] where can we start opening up the niche markets.”

Evan adds that having the Port of Prince Rupert in close proximity makes the RDBN’s location ideal for exporting products.

Evans moved from Salmon Arm for her new position, which started on Nov. 1, 2017. The position is a two-year pilot project funded by a partnership between Northern Development Initiative Trust and the RDBN.

She said the most important part of her job is to build relations with local producers.

“A big part of my job is just getting out and meeting people,” she said. “I want producers from east to west to start interacting more – [so they can realize that] it’s not us against them, and we can start looking at it [agriculture in the region] as a whole.”

The RDBN currently has 840 farms operating within its boundaries. The majority of these farms do not have full-time employees, but are instead small-scale, family-run operations employing temporary or contract workers.

The need for a regional coordinator was identified during an agriculture forum hosted by the RDBN in 2016. According to the RDBN, small-scale producers and new farmers continue to express a desire for information about the services and supports that are available to them.

Potential for agroforestry in the region

Debbie Evans, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s (RDBN) new agriculture coordinator, says she sees great potential for agroforestry in the region.

With the growth of the wood pellet industry, Evans says local cattle producers have been struggling to find wood shavings for livestock bedding.

Wood shavings are important because they keep cows cleaner.

“If cows have too much manure on their bodies, the plants [slaughterhouses] don’t want to take them because that’s a potential E. coli contamination,” she explained. “If they’re too dirty, the plants will say, ‘We’re not processing your cattle.’”

“So one of the things I’m looking at is how can we maybe start building our own [wood shavings],” she said. “I’m looking at the potential of growing agroforestry here.”

Agroforestry is a land management approach that purposefully integrates the growing of trees with crops or livestock. This integration can involve deliberately retaining or adding trees or shrubs into agriculture production systems, or deliberately adding or enhancing crops or livestock in forest production systems.

Supporting safe relocation of livestock

Another important part of the agriculture coordinator’s job prescription is teaming up with Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) emergency services staff during flood or fire related emergencies to support safe relocation of livestock.

Debbie Evans, the RDBN’s agriculture coordinator, is currently working with RDBN and Ministry of Forests staff to develop a summary of what happened during emergency situations in 2017, and creating an action plan for 2018.

“We have to figure out where they [producers] will relocate animals to, who’s available and what trailers are ready to haul,” she said. “We’re trying to get all the pieces in place for when we are in an emergency situation.”

Evans added that she is also busy planning the 2018 Regional Agriculture Forum, which is expected to be held in February.


 

@flavio_nienow
newsroom@ldnews.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fraser Lake business offers equine therapy to deal with life stressors

The idea is to have diverse businesses that provide more options to residents and tourists says Kim Watt-Senner

Smithers man receives two-year sentence for fatal car crash

Over a year after a fatal crash, a Smithers man has been sentenced to two years plus a day in jail.

First Nations push for massive conservation area in northern B.C.

Includes ancestral areas of three Kaska Dena First Nations, just shy of the B.C.-Yukon border

Tahltan reach benefits agreement over Seabridge’s massive KSM gold mine project

$308M agreement provides additional billions for Tahltan jobs, contracts

B.C. court to mull continuing order against Coastal Gaslink pipeline opponents

Coastal GasLink was granted an interim injunction in December following arrests and protests

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley back in custody 6 months after release

Correctional Services Canada could not provide further details due to privacy concerns

Most Read