Taking northwest farms to market

Jason Llewellyn, the director of planning for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN), is gathering farmers and other stakeholders for one of two projects that have the same goal—boosting commercial agriculture in northern B.C.

New surveys will get input from farms like this one on Woodmere Rd.

Jason Llewellyn is a planner who puts his money where his mouth is.

“Every week I get a nice bag of fresh, regional sprouts deliver to my door,” he says. “All the beef in the freezer is from local farmers too.”

Llewellyn, the director of planning for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN), is gathering farmers and other stakeholders for one of two projects that have the same goal—boosting commercial agriculture in northern B.C.

A long, cold winter is just the first hurdle for farmers and other agricultural producers in the region.

Producers of all kinds also face a relatively small market dominated by a few chain grocery stores that require steady, high-volume, year-round supply.

With those and many other challenges in mind, the RDBN is drafting an  agricultural plan.

The RDBN plan follows a more market-focused project by several by Community Futures,  the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, and the Omineca Pine Beetle Action Committee (OBAC).

Called Beyond the Market, the project is launched a website last month that has a searchable database of farms, food retailers and farmer’s markets from Terrace to Valemount.

About 80 producers are already listed at www.beyondthemarket.ca, and more are invited to join.

Chuck Holyk, one of the project coordinators,  said the site and other ventures will boost production.

“If farmers didn’t have to worry about selling their goods—if they had customers lined up—I bet if you ask ten of them they would all say they would grow more,” Holyk said.

A food distribution network would also help,  Holyk said,  along with other value-adding services like shared greenhouses and a shared cold storage facility.

Beyond the Market already has a pilot where local farmers supply fresh produce to a health facility in Prince George.

Meanwhile, the Regional District’s agricultural plan is just getting underway.

Jason Llewellyn said the RDBN already protects land in the agricultural land reserve. But the RDBN now hopes to play a coordinating role on other issues. Like Beyond the Market, the RDBN sees local access to grocery stores as a key issue. Others range from land prices to livestock regulation, access to range lands, invasive plants, and succession on family farms.

Jerry Petersen is president of the Nechako Valley Regional Cattlemen’s Association and their representative on the RDBN’s agricultural working group.

A rancher with 40 years’ experience and 100 head of cattle north of Vanderhoof, Petersen said one concern for the Cattlemen is to cut red tape that surrounds livestock transport.

A tougher challenge is how to make farming a profitable option for young people who can make higher wages in a sawmill and other resource industry jobs.

“We’re starting to retire off,” said Peterson, and the younger generation is not always there to replace them.

“It’s something that we all depend on,” he added, “but we don’t put much emphasis on keeping the farmer on the farm.”

The RDBN is holding public workshops where producers can add input to the plan.

The workshops run Sept. 19 at the Town of Smithers office, Sept. 20 at the Vanderhoof municipal office, and Sept. 21 at the RDBN office in Burns Lake. All the workshops run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Just Posted

If climate is an emergency, act like it

Council has declared a climate emergency, but is sitting on money that could mitigate its effects

CT scanner officially open in Smithers

As of noon on July 12 the machine had scanned 45 patients, five of which were emergency CT scans.

Musical collaboration comes together at Midsummer Music Festival

The project was done to acknowledge a potential for harmony among otherwise disparate communities.

WATCH: Mip performs at Bulkley Valley Brewery July 12

Catch two songs from Mip’s nearly three-hour set at the brewery on July 12.

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Thunderstorms forecast across B.C.

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for B.C.’s central Interior

Most Read