This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Farm Writers Federation annual conference. This year’s event was held in British Columbia’s beautiful Fraser Valley. I always look forward to this event for a few reasons. It’s a time to reconnect with old friends and meet new friends; there are always great professional development workshops; and it’s an opportunity to learn more about agriculture in other parts of this big country we call Canada.
Agriculture in B.C. is very different from agriculture on the Canadian Prairies. In Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta you’ll see huge fields of wheat and canola as far as the eye can see. That’s not the case in B.C. Much of the province consists of mountains and forest but the Fraser Valley area in the south is known for producing high quality and high value products on a small land base. B.C. is home to berry production, greenhouse vegetables, dairy, poultry and more, along with other niche markets to serve the ethnic communities in Vancouver.
While B.C.’s Fraser Valley is very small on Canada’s agricultural map, accounting for only 0.2% of Canada’s arable land, it is high in productivity, producing $18,000 per hectare per year in farm gate receipts. The Niagara region of Ontario follows at a distance producing $8,000 per hectare per year in farm gate receipts.
Farmland availability is an issue in B.C. with growing urban centres. The province is considered 98 percent urban. However, these urbanites place high value on local food production, wildlife, nature and green spaces.
I participated in a cycling ag tour during the conference. We cycled approximately 20 kilometres stopping at several places including The Farm House Natural Cheeses, Shergill Cranberry Farms, Canadian Hazelnut, University of British Columbia Dairy Education & Research Centre and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre.
It was a great learning experience. Here are some photos from the scenic cycle tour.