Opportunities and connections were a theme of the Kersley Farmers Institute’s winter workshop this year.
“The Changing Opportunities in Agriculture Farming for our Future” event included a new entrant networking event Jan. 17 — which was a brand-new event this year — and a full day of presentations and updates Jan. 18.
Saturday’s sessions at the College of New Caledonia Quesnel Campus included Integrated Pest Management with Dave Ralph and Ksenia Kolodka from the Invasive Species Council of B.C.
Dr. Dieter Geesing, provincial soil specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture, gave a presentation called Why Bother Composting?.
Market gardener Rob Borsato of Mackin Creek Farm in Soda Creek, who helped start the current Quesnel Farmers’ Market with several other growers and also, with a partner farm, introduced the CSA concept to the Cariboo, offered information about Protective Culture Production in the Cariboo.
Serena Black, who is from Quesnel and is now an extension specialist at the University of Northern British Columbia, gave a presentation on Cash Crops You Can Grow, providing information from an Alternative and Specialty Crop Feasibility Study being undertaken in the Bulkley-Nechako region.
During the day, Amy Quarry from the Sprout Kitchen Regional Food Hub and Business Incubator provided an update on the new initiative, which is close to finalizing its location in Quesnel.
Lori Fogarty from the Cariboo Regional District North Cariboo Agriculture Development Advisory Committee spoke about what the work the committee has done in the past year, including moving forward with an agricultural education program, including developing an agricultural career awareness unit for Career Life students in Grades 10 to 12.
Ryan Adams from Community Futures North Cariboo shared some of the ways in which Community Futures can help producers.
Workshop attendees also heard from Jolene Swain, the Young Agrarians land matcher for central and northern B.C., a new position launched in June.
Nicole Pressey and Marisa Nightingale from the Ministry of Agriculture also spoke about the programs and opportunities that are available through the ministry.
Forty people registered for this year’s event.
Wilma Watkin, treasurer of the Kersley Farmers’ Institute, is grateful for the team who helped organize the event.
“Putting on a conference is a team effort,” she said in an email after the event. “I may be the lead, but I certainly could not do it without help at various stages.”
She also expressed gratitude for local Ministry of Agriculture staff members Nicole Pressey and Marisa Nightingale for all the work they do at the local level and all the support they provide.
“Without them, the conferences would likely not happen,” she said. “Many of us are grateful to have these two in our community, helping and advocating for farmers in the region.”
The Kersley Farmers Institute received funding and support from the federal and provincial governments, Community Futures North Cariboo and Harvest, the organizing body of the Quesnel Farmers’ Market, for the workshop.
Watch for more from the workshop in future issues of the Observer.