RDBN Growing Opportunities Agricultural Update - July 2021

July 2022 - Issue 12


June was a busy month, and July is almost over! The spring freshet combined with the rain meant that some areas in our region were preparing for flooding in the first part of June. Despite the cooler, rainy weather this spring, the market gardeners are harvesting lots of delicious, fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers! A visit to your local Farmers' Market will tell you that it's not just the market gardeners that have been busy. The Markets have had an array of fruit and vegetable plant starts, meat, eggs, baking and canned goods, as well as an incredible display of the talents of our regional artisans. If you can't make it to Market, check out our online Connecting Consumers and Producers directory. Click here to get listed!


Value Added, Locally!

It's no secret that we have to pack a lot into each growing season. If you are a gardener, hobby farmer, or own/operate a farming operation, once spring gets here it can get pretty hectic trying to get everything done for when the snow comes back in October.

Primary producers looking to add value to their products through additional processing sometimes have a hard time accessing resources, but we are here to help! We have created an Asset Map that shows the name and location of commercial kitchens in the region that are available for rental. Contact information is included with the location pins on the map.

Food Hubs and Food Hub Networks

A Food Economy & Food Hub Assessment Study was completed for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako in March, 2021. Essentially the study concluded that our initial focus should be on the distribution of locally grown food throughout the region, and encouraged the establishment of an online ordering system and distribution centres throughout the region. Ten core elements were identified in the report:

  1. Set up a coordinating body for the food hub network.
  2. Establish a region-wide online marketplace for region-made foods.
  3. Provide an aggregation and distribution service available to all local producers.
  4. Add a food storage component to new or existing facilities.
  5. Establish a processing facility.
  6. Identify other value-added processing opportunities.
  7. Improve meat slaughter and processing capabilities.
  8. Provide business and technical farming services.
  9. Find ways to collaborate with First Nations.
  10. Establish complimentary local “farmers’ stores”. 

Interested in further discussion about food hubs or food hub networks? Contact one of the RDBN Agriculture Coordinators (contact information below), or check out the RDBN Food Economy & Food Hub Assessment webpage.

Other Resources

The Nechako Valley Food Network has a resource library, information on the community gardens, maintains a local producers directory, and in general is a great organization to reach out to if you are interested in discussing growing and processing food!

Groundbreakers Agriculture Association in Smithers has a Tool Library that includes a pressure canner, dehydrator, juicer, cabbage slicer, fermentation crocks, etc. Membership to Groundbreakers Agriculture Association is required to rent equipment.  A $40 damage deposit and a Members' Agreement and Tool's Use Policy are also required. You can pay your membership and find all the information you need on their website.

Interested in resources available throughout the province, including courses on food safety, traceability, etc.? Check out the BC Small Scale Food Processor Association website here.


Farming & Mental Wellness - AgSafe Highlight

All types of farming have a certain amount of risk involved, and with those risks comes stress!  This time of year producers can get overwhelmed pretty easily.  AgSafe (formerly known as FARSHA) has a page on their website dedicated to mental wellness resources. There are mental wellness services free to people working in BC agriculture.

Did you know...

AgSafe has many industry resources, organized by industry, that are intended to help employers create a healthy and safe work environment. They also offer online courses and other training opportunities (the website link is https://agsafebc.ca/).

If you have specific questions, we have an AgSafe Consultant right here in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako! Many of you have probably already met Trevor Tapp, who is also a rancher in Fraser Lake area (Copper T Ranch).  His information can be found on the contact page of the AgSafe website, or by clicking the button below.

Contact Trevor Tapp if you have questions about AgSafe


Please let us know what you'd like to see in the next Growing Opportunities eNewsletter!

Megan D'Arcy
(West - Areas A, B, E, G; Smithers, Telkwa, Houston, Granisle, Burns Lake, South Side)

Michelle Roberge
(East - Areas C, D, F; Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, Fort Fraser, Fraser Lake, Endako)