Demand up for local agriculture support

A challenge in promoting local agriculture may lie in the nature of the sector, a regional advocate say.

Michelle Roberge shows off her bees at the Bioscape Farm in Vanderhoof last spring.

Michelle Roberge shows off her bees at the Bioscape Farm in Vanderhoof last spring.

A challenge in promoting local agriculture may lie in the nature of the sector, a regional advocate say.

On March 23, economic development project Beyond the Market celebrates its fifth anniversary with local farmers, supporters, and representatives from partner groups at the North Country Inn’s restaurant in Vanderhoof.

The project involves providing a voice for the agricultural businesses of the region in trade shows, farmers’ markets, fall fairs, community events, and inter-sector meetings, explained Jillian Merrick, who recently passed her role as program coordinator to Christine Kinnie.

“I spend as manny hours engaging with other sectors, as connecting with farmers,” she said.

Compared to other industries such as mining, the agriculture sector involves many very small businesses with owners tied to their land. Representation of the industry is thus difficult to manage in multi-sector discussions, as well as having projects that work for many operators, Merrick said.

For example, in Williams Lake, nine priorities were identified to promote agriculture in the community and 34 strategies were developed for two alone.

Aiming to promote and support agriculture along Highway 16, the project started as an 18-month initiative and grew to also receive calls for assistance from other parts of the province, Merrick said.

Through on-the-ground volunteers based out of various communities, the project provides one-on-one farm business coaching services and training sessions, as well as matched demand with supply in farm employment, products, and land.

For some businesses, it may involve assisting with grant applications, and for others, it may be a matter of creating a website to connect with the rest of the community, Merrick explained.

For Michelle Roberge, co-owner of the Vanderhoof-based Bioscape Farm and market manager of Vanderhoof Farmers’ Market, the program started when her business started.

“We were clueless, and it helps us along,” Roberge said.

The project is funded by the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition, the District of Fort St. James, and the Regional Districts of Fraser-Fort George, Bulkley-Nechako, and Kitimat-Stikine.


RDBN creates agriculture committee


For Mark Parker, RDBN’s director of Fraser Lake Rural and chair of its new agriculture committee, agriculture, with its diversified nature, can serve as the region’s diversification tool, he said.

Started in February, the new agriculture committee was created in light of the current economic situation, Parker explained.

“Part of it is we’re facing downturn in the commodity,” he said. “We’ve got a tough time in the mining industry, forestry is there but not a growing industry, whereas agriculture is probably one of things that can tide us through this and keep us going.

“People will always want to eat.”

Parker explained that some of the identified priorities so far include injecting youth into the industry’s aging population, expanding the production variety of the region to include other viable crops such as fruit-bearing trees, as well as keeping up to date with changes in the local Agricultural Land Reserves.

“[The committee is] in its infancy stage, but it’s going to be a very solid move, with the enthusiasm and the feedback not just from the board, but also with the agriculture groups,” he said.


Just Posted

Grads at Riverside Park in Vanderhoof, B.C. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof celebrates 2021 graduates

NVSS grads got together at Riverside Park on Friday, June 11 in… Continue reading

Singing and drumming was heard in downtown Vanderhoof on Monday, June 14. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Photos: Honour Walk held in Vanderhoof

An honour walk was held Monday June 14 in Vanderhoof, remembering the… Continue reading

Emergency crews responded to the scene of a suspicious fire at the southeast corner of the OK Café in Vanderhoof Friday, June 11. The historic building is 101-years-old. (BC RCMP photo)
OK Café in Vanderhoof alright after suspicious fire

Damage kept to a minimum by firefighters

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

Most Read