Small lot farming workshop planned for Nov. 30

In Langley Township, 73 per cent of land in Agricultural Land Reserve is in parcels less than 10 acres in size.

Curtis Stone runs a small farm on less than an acre in Kelowna. He will be one of the speakers at a forum on small lot farming

An impressive list of speakers and small-scale producers are on the agenda when the Langley Sustainable Agriculture Foundation (LSAF) presents its first community-based workshop for those wishing to learn more about small-lot farming.

According to the Langley Agricultural Viability Strategy recently adopted by Langley Township council, three-quarters of Langley’s land base is in the Agricultural Land Reserve and 73 per cent of those parcels are smaller than 10 acres.

“With the growing consumer demand for locally produced food, we believe that there is great potential to increase production here in Langley,” said workshop co-ordinator Karen Taylor.

Yet many owners of small-lot acreage aren’t sure where to start or how to expand their operations to make them more productive, says Taylor. “Our workshop will help give them some direction and lots of ideas,” she says.

Among workshop speakers is Curtis Stone, owner of Green City Acres in Kelowna where he grows enough vegetables on less than an acre of land to sell at farmers markets, restaurants, retail outlets and to a 60-member CSA box program.

He began farming in 2010 with no prior experience.

He says he started his farm “simply out of a desire to be more autonomous, live by my values, and run a business according to the triple bottom line principle.” (The triple bottom line principle takes into account three criteria for assessing business success: economic, social and environmental.)

Also speaking is Gary Rolston, a professional agrologist who has taught numerous small-farm development programs in the south coastal B.C. area over the past 20 years.

Rolston heads From the Ground Up, a consulting business that strives to guide its farm clients in sustainable and practical directions by focusing on economic development, agricultural area plans, business planning and beneficial re-use of waste products.

Finally, Kwantlen Polytechnic University Research Associate Ermias Afeworki will talk about his work on a current KPU initiative which will prepare farm enterprise budgets for at least 30 crops and livestock products that are commonly grown in south-west B.C.

“These budgets will focus on small-scale, low-input, human-intensive and alternate-market farming,” Afeworki says. “The aim of the project is to assess the profitability of small-scale farms in this region.”

Among small-scale producers who will talk about the challenges and successes of their own agricultural enterprises is Jim Rahe of Annie’s Orchard. A past president of the Fraser Valley Farm Direct Marketing Association and professor emeritus, Simon Fraser University, Rahe specializes in plant pathology, integrated pest management, vegetation management, and tree fruit production and pest management.

Also on the panel is professional agrologist and specialty chicken and turkey producer Mark Robbins, who has been a farmer for 30 years. He currently produces 5,000 chickens and 1,200 turkeys annually on his K&M Farms, which is on a small lot (seven acres) but is not classified as a small farm. Ranked by farm-gate sales, it is in the top 18 per cent of farms in the province, says Robbins.

Bernice Neff of Glenwood Greenhouse brings her experience with value-added products to the producer panel. Neff uses vegetables grown at Glenwood to make pickles, preserves and other gourmet items which are sold throughout the Fraser Valley.

The workshop – a pilot project sponsored by VanCity and Metro Vancouver – is being held at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday, Nov. 30 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The workshop is free but space is limited, so registration is required. To register, call 604-897-2214 or email langleyagriculture@gmail.com”langleyagriculture@gmail.com.

 

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