All posts by Christine Kinnie

Time to Scout your Fields for Grasshoppers

By Jim Forbes, BC Ministry of Agriculture

Last year we had quite a number of calls regarding grasshoppers. With the open fall we had and a relatively dry spring so far, 2015 is shaping up to be even worse than last year for grasshoppers.  I was in a field on Monday evening and came across a significant infestation of the little blighters at just the right stage for treatment.  For those of you with long memories, the Grasshopper Control Act was repealed in 1998 so you have been on your own with regards to controlling them for 17 years now.

The biggest key to successful treatment is to catch them early and at the right stage for the products to act before they have consumed much crop, and before you really have to saturate them with the product to kill them.  Catching them at the early stages means monitoring your fields now, when the grasshoppers are usually small enough that they are hard to notice.  By the time the grasshoppers are big enough that you can’t miss them, then you have already lost significant crop, have fewer options and those options may be less effective.  Here are some other points to consider:

Identify – Identification of species, abundance, and stage of development are all important factors in successfully controlling grasshoppers.  Of the approximately 60 species of grasshoppers in BC, only 4 cause appreciable damage (see the links below for species and pictures) and warrant control treatment, so it pays to know which ones you have.

Is Control worth it? – Usually the economic threshold for controlling grasshoppers is about 7-12 grasshoppers per square meter in the crop, 13 or over is considered severe and control is generally recommended.  You will find that the numbers tend to be almost twice as high by the roadside so it is important to walk out in the crop and do the survey (walk a W pattern in the field and count at a minimum of 4 points along each leg of the W).  For range it is best to  use the values from the roadside as in the table in this link: .

Option 1, Baits – There are two types.

Carbaryl bait can work well at the right stage (younger stages, 3rd instar) for short-term killing of the hoppers.

Nolobait {a biological control that is a microsporidial pathogen} takes more time to kill (3 to 6 weeks so does not reduce the damage as quickly) but can infect more of the population and can decrease populations in subsequent years without affecting other species.  It is available through Purity Feeds but must be ordered from the manufacturer as required as it has a relatively short shelf life, so you have to plan ahead:

Option 2, Spray – If you are going to spray (see options below), it is best when the majority are in the third or 4th stages (about 6-10 mm or less than ½ inch long), before they can use their wings.  Insecticides are generally require more care and attention to details than a lot of herbicides as they can have more acute toxicity issues for humans & livestock so it is advisable to hire a certified pesticide applicator.  Use with Cautionthere are also issues for non-target species to consider, particularly if there are beehives within a few miles. Get to know your local bee keepers and discuss your situation with them.

Option 3, Ride it out and encourage natural predators – Depending on which species of grasshoppers you  have you might not actually be experiencing damage; on the other hand, if you do have some of the 4 damaging species it is likely there will be some more around in years to come.  Some producers have had some success with putting up bluebird houses in areas that see chronic infestations – it doesn’t kill them all but it can help prevent some of the large build ups that can occur when the grasshoppers go unchecked. From my experience Blue grouse, wild turkeys and chickens also tend to favour grasshoppers as a food source.

More information about grasshoppers is available in these links:$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex6463?opendocument$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/faq6750$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex3497

Last year Robson at Purity provided the following information regarding grasshopper control options available at Purity Feeds

PLEASE NOTE that while the relative differences may be similar, prices will likely have changed significantly with the change in the US/CDN $ exchange rate.

1. Lagon 480 E (Dimethoate)

  • Registered for grasshoppers on pastures/range
  • Water volume is 80L/acre (21 gal/acre) for good coverage.
  • Chemical rate is : 220ml-400ml/acre. Use the 400 ml/acre rate when the grasshoppers are larger or heavy infestation.
  • Remove cattle when spraying.
  • 28 day pre-harvest and pre-grazing interval for the 400 lm/acre rate.
  • Cost/acre=$15.40/acre

2.  Sevin XLR (Carbaryl)

  • Registered for grasshoppers on pastures/range
  • Water volume is 80L/acre (21 gal/acre) for good coverage.
  • Chemical rate is : 1.0-1.4 L/acre. Use the 1.4L/acre rate when the grasshoppers are larger or heavy infestation..
  • Remove cattle when spraying.
  • 0 day pre-harvest and pre-grazing interval for Sevin XLR.
  • cost/acre=$29.72/acre

3. Malathion 85E (Malathion)

  • Registered for grasshoppers on pastures/range
  • Water volume is 80L/acre (21 gal/acre) for good coverage.
  • Chemical rate is : 0.40-1.1 L/acre. Use the 1.1L/acre rate when the grasshoppers are larger or heavy infestation..
  • Remove cattle when spraying.
  • 0 day pre-harvest and pre-grazing interval for Sevin XLR.
  • cost/acre=$32.70/acre

4. NoLo Bait (Nosema locustae spores)

Hopefully anyone who experienced issues with grasshoppers last year is already checking their fields. Even if you were OK last year, it pays to be vigilant.


Jim Forbes,
Regional Agrologist

Ministry of Agriculture
441 Columbia St.
Kamloops, BC, V2C 2T3
Ph: 250-828-4513”

17th Annual BC Food Systems Gathering

“Gathering and Growing Together” 

June 25th to 28th, 2015, Prince George, BC

The BC Food Systems Network is thrilled to announce that our 2015 Gathering will take place at Camp Friendship in Prince George, BC, in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, on the weekend of June 25-28, 2015. This will be our 17th annual gathering.

Registration for the 2015 Gathering is now open.  To resister please go to the following link (you may have to cut and paste):

This year’s rates are:

– Early Bird Rate (till June 1st): $325
– Standard Rate (after June 1st): $350
– Semi-private Room Rate (two or three per room): $400
– Youth 12-18: $125
– Children 6-11: $65
– Children 5 and under are free!!

There are a limited number of partial subsidies available. Please contact the Gathering Coordinator ( to discuss how we might be able to support helping you to attend.

The Working Group for Indigenous Food Sovereignty will host their annual general meeting as a pre-Gathering event on Thursday, June 25th.  Please ensure that you register for this day if you plan to attend.  There is a separate registration fee for this day to cover the costs of accommodation and meals.  For those who cannot afford the fee there is an option on the website to register free as we want to ensure that the fee is not a barrier to participation of WGIFS members.

Rates include all workshops, accommodation and meals. Standard accommodations are 12 bed cabins, although there are also some rooms in the lodge with 2 or 3 beds per room. In order to reserve one of these rooms, please choose the “semi-private” accommodation type when you register. Extra charges will apply. We also have a limited number of rooms set aside for families, for elders and others with limited mobility at the regular rate. Please contact the Gathering Coordinator to discuss any specific needs.

* There is space available for those who would rather camp in a tent or bring a trailer.  Please indicate this when you register so that we reserve a spot for you.

* Please also indicate if you have any special dietary needs.

* If you have extra room in your vehicle or if you are looking for a ride please go to the “2015 BC Food Systems Gathering – Ride Share Page” on Facebook and connect with others from your community.

The 2015 Call for workshop proposals is currently open. We are looking forward to hearing your ideas for workshops, panels, roundtables, and discussion topics related to the theme “Gathering and Growing Together”. We are also looking for people who are willing to lead food demonstrations/ activities and artists who might be willing to graphically record the Gathering.  The Gathering Committee encourages all of you to share your knowledge and ideas for making the Gathering a meaningful and enriching experience. We also ask people to bring seeds, foods and resources to share and trade.  Please submit a one or two paragraph description of your proposed workshop, presentation, or activity (as well as a short bio) to Norine Messer, Gathering Coordinator ( by May 30, 2015.

For those who would like to sponsor someone facing financial barriers to attend the event please go to our donation page at:

We are also asking people to bring donations for out Silent Auction.

We hope that you will be able to join us for a wonderful time of meeting old friends, making new ones, and above all else forging new connections to one another and to our food systems.

For more information please go to our website or contact Gathering Coordinator, Norine Messer at

Farm Business Planning Bootcamp Series

Kick start your farm business with this intensive two-day business planning bootcamp designed specifically for the agriculture sector.

This event is open to farm business operators in all stages of business development, from start-up to expansion. The bootcamp will feature information, case studies, and hands-on exercises to help you create a draft business plan, covering topics such as:

  • Business frameworks
  • Production planning
  • Inventory & distribution systems
  • Time managment
  • Human resources
  • Industry research
  • Customer segments
  • Brand development
  • Financial forecasts
  • Start-up financing
  • and more!

Bootcamps will run 8:30am – 4:30pm each day and will include a one hour lunch break. Participants will be provided with a complimentary lunch on both days as well as a farm business planning workbook. The bootcamp is offered free of charge. Registration is required.

These workshops are supported by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.


About the facilitator

Jillian Merrick has served as coordinator of the Beyond the Market project for over four years, and is considered a regional expert for agricultural business start-up and transition. She employs a hands-on learning style with an emphasis on practical application and story-telling.




BTM_Poster_Biz_Bootcamps AAFC

Ravenwood Acres

Shelley, Brent & Chase Work produce heritage poultry, pork, and waterfowl on their farm based in Vanderhoof, BC.

Ravenwood Acres is a small scale hobby farm, located in Vanderhoof. We are dedicated to raising quality heritage poultry for Canadian climates! We offer a variety of dual-purpose breeds that are cold hardy, prolific winter layers, and have good utility.  We specialize in Chantecler – the only breed created in Canada for our climate – as well as others such as Russian Orloff, Ameraucana, Faverolles, and Brahma to name a few.  We have some fun breeds too, including a selection of bantams – Cochins, Wyandottes, and the fabulous Silkie – that are perfect for introducing children to poultry!  We love providing projects for 4-H kids!  We also run a flock of Welsh Harlequin and Muscovy ducks, for both eggs and utility, as well as beautiful Sebastopol Geese who earn their keep as lawn ornaments! We offer chicken/duck eggs for hatching and consumption, chicks, ducklings and occasionally young/old stock for sale to breeders, farmers, and backyard enthusiasts across the country.  For those who don’t have the facility to hatch their own fowl, we recently began offering custom incubation services as well.  We breed heritage Tamworth pigs and produce weaners for sale in spring and fall. We hope to add some goat products in the near future.”

ravenwood acres


Chicken/Duck eggs for hatching and consumption, Chicks/Ducklings by custom order, Custom incubating, Weaner pigs and pork, Goat products coming soon!


Direct sale/farm gate. Heritage fowl hatching eggs/chicks in spring. Weaner pigs available spring and fall. Excess fowl stock available in fall.


(250) 567-4818


Request for Presenters

Beyond the Market is an economic development strategy, administered by Community Futures Fraser Fort George, which supports the local food and agriculture sectors across the BC Highway 16 region. We provide promotion, coaching, training and extension services to local farm businesses.

Beyond the Market is currently seeking qualified individuals to lead training and development workshops for the agricultural sector in the BC Highway 16 community. Topics of interest include:

  • Livestock care and handling
  • Livestock genetics and breeding
  • Grazing and pasture management
  • Forage production
  • Horticultural production
  • Season extension
  • Value-added production
  • New markets
  • Niche markets
  • Retail and wholesale distribution
  • Sales and customer services
  • Branding and marketing
  • Financial literacy
  • Business planning
  • Tools and technologies
  • Succession planning
  • Human resources
  • Women and youth in farming
  • Much more…pitch us your idea!

Beyond the Market seminars are organized in several BC Highway 16 communities at multiple times throughout the year, typically in November, January, February and March. Seminars are delivered to the communities of Dunster, Prince George, Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, Smithers, Terrace and others within the service region. Workshop logistics are handled by Beyond the Market staff. Workshops that run 2-4 hours in length are sought for weekday evening sessions or conferences, and full day workshops are sought for weekend intensive training sessions.

If you are an expert in one or more of the fields listed above and can deliver an informative, engaging and detailed workshop to our farming clients, we would encourage you to submit a proposal to become a series speaker.

Submission should include:

  • Details about you and a listing of credentials
  • Examples of relevant past work
  • Workshop topics you could deliver and the length of time required for delivery
  • An indication of your schedule availability
  • Number of days you are willing to travel in a row
  • Expected remuneration

*Please note: Beyond the Market will cover travel costs to and from the service delivery area. An estimate of accommodation and meals allowances should be included in the expected remuneration.

Beyond the Market will receive submissions on an ongoing basis. The first of the 2014 workshop series is anticipated to run in November 2014. Preference will be given to speakers that demonstrate a knowledge base relevant to northern BC farmers. Experiential knowledge is critical. Preferred seminars will delve into deep detail, rather than deliver high-level overviews, and may require a full day or more to deliver. Seminars that include exercises, hands-on guidance, examples, personal experiences and take-away materials for participants are encouraged.

Further questions and submissions can be directed to:

Jillian Merrick
Coordinator, Beyond the Market
c/o Community Futures Fraser Fort George
1566 7th Ave, Prince George, BC, V2L 3P4
250-562-9622 ext. 115

Book Review: Grass-Fed Cattle – How to Produce and Market Natural Beef

Grass fed cattleBy Curt Gesch, June 2014

If you’re interested in looking at your beef operation afresh, look no further than this book. Julius Ruechel covers everything from the history of ungulate herding instincts to genetics, climate, forages, watering systems, pests, calving and more. In the marketing section he surveys land and equipment needs, raising stockers, finishing beef, financial planning, and making marketing plans.

The book could easily have been bound as two volumes, not because 350+ pages is too long, but because there is too much to digest (pun intended) with one reading, even an extended reading.

The fundamental principle of this fine book are these: Let cattle express their instinctual behaviours as ruminants and herd animals and you will produce healthy animals with minimal machine costs. Healthy animals give you options in marketing your beef as high-quality, healthy and tasty meat through a number of markets.

Right from the beginning Ruechel identifies his approach as one that is attuned to natural cycles. He looks to the great herds—bison, caribou, etc.—for insight into how to encourage cattle to use their instincts to thrive, as opposed to an agricultural system that fits the animals into its mold.

The implications will be challenging, frustrating, maybe even maddening, for some ranchers. Early summer grazing, says Ruechel, is the way to go: calves are born on grass, not snow or mud; scours is virtually eliminated; and predators have lots of easier prey—rabbits, voles, birds, for example. Herding behaviour, suggests Ruechel, means a sort of competitive grazing that creams the grasses, disturbs the soil as hooves bring organic and mineral matter together while hoof may also open the sod to let air and moisture enter easily.   You find out very soon that Ruechel is not talking here about herds held in yards, major efforts and cash used to store food that is brought to cattle, or feedlots that use grain to put on the final pounds and fat. He is talking about grazing—what cattle do naturally.

Fencing, water supplies, and attention to grass are the emphases Ruechel puts first. He suggests that machinery needs should start with a quad, and that herding may make even one tractor unnecessary. At this point, a reader may begin to add amazement to earlier frustrations as Ruechel continues. Cattle, says Ruechel, are naturally “programmed” to have times of higher and lower quality foods, but they make growth spurts that helps them regain body condition. In winter, a cow may have a lower metabolic rate but, come spring, her metabolism ramps up and she is able “to quickly make up for food shortages and even catch up to those that didn’t experience such a shortage.”

As far as hay and silage goes, Ruechel recommends a goal of year-round grazing, including grazing-through-the-snow if at all possible, which means that it is often much more economical to buy feed when winter pastures aren’t sufficient. Having this feed placed in the field where you want it may even eliminate the need for a tractor/loader.   Ruechel doesn’t say as much as I would like about the types of snow and depth. His own ranch is operated according to his principles in Yukon, but heavy, wet or heavily crusted snows may be an impediment to winter grazing to a significant degree.

I also wonder about the “purity” of his grass-fed philosophy. He suggests that even a little grain negates the health benefits (for the cow as well as for human consumption) of a grass-fed diet. Cattle grazing mature grass, however, certainly harvest seeds which is nothing more than the “grain” of the grass. I could not find a satisfactory explanation in this book about why a handful of grain now and then would defeat the purpose of the system.

The closing third of the book is extremely practical. It gives charts and models and explanations of how to do the ration planning of your operation, various marketing strategies, and so on. Because Beyond the Market and other sponsors have provided excellent workshops on these topics in the last few years, I will give a blanket endorsement to Ruechel’s ideas with going into detail.

An absolutely fascinating part of this marketing section is a series of case studies in marketing. Here are the matched pairs of cities showing how marketing might be tailored to needs of various sized and located markets:

  • Helena, Montana/Grande Prairie, Alberta.
  • Seattle, Washington/Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Lewistown, Montana/Kindersley, Saskatchewan.

Ruechel shows how the nature of the various communities will provide successful marketing solutions. For example, in oil exploration areas, companies may be interested in providing lots of red meat for their employees in camps. In small prairie towns, the prevalence of deep freezers (because many people already use them for wild game) may direct sales to offering sides of beef rather than individual cuts.

Grain-Fed Cattle ends with a glossary which helps to make the book’s knowledge acceptable to novices as well as those with lots of experience. I would recommend that ranchers check out the book at a local library and consider buying a copy as a home-encyclopedia of a holistic way of raising land and cattle that arises out of respect for animal and land, while providing an acceptable income and way of life for the farmer or rancher.

Curt Gesch is a writer, farmer, and musician. He and his wife, Betsey, own 153 acres in Quick, B.C. and publish an e-newletter called Just Farmers(Contact for information).

New Mobile Farm Bookstore Launched

IMG_0779In April 2014, Beyond the Market began its newest inititaive: the Farm Knowledge Network. For the next two years, we will strive to deliver important knowledge, resources and tools to farm operators across the BC Highway 16 to help them learn, develop and grow.

As part of this new initiative, we’ve created a brand new tool: the Mobile Farm Bookstore. This traveling bookstore features over 150 titles on all all aspects of farming. Titles on fencing, barns and irrigation systems will help farmers plan for new construction and capital investment. Titles on livestock of all kinds will help farmers keep healthier and more production animals on the farm. Titles on specialty products like christmas trees, medical herbs, and hemp will give farmers insight into new emerging markets.  Titles on marketing, business and operations planning and will help farmers plan for profits. There are even titles for the non-farmer, including cookbooks and more.

In addition to the titles available for purchase, the Mobile Farm Bookstore will also offer copies of free publications and the opportunity to chat with with our expert coordinator about your farm business needs.

The Mobile Farm Bookstore will be traveling this summer to communities across the BC Highway 16 corridor. Our tenative schedule is below and will be updated when additional appearances are added.

  • District C Farmers’ Institute Social, May 31, 2014
  • McBride Pioneer Days. June 7, 2014
  • BC Northern Exhibition, Aug 7-11, 2014
  • Skeena Valley Fall Fair, Sept 5-6, 2014
  • Lakes District Fall Fair, Sept 12-13, 2014
  • Vanderhoof Farmers’ Market: July 10, 2014
  • Fort St. James Farmers’ Market: July 11, 2014
  • Bulkley Valley Farmers’ Market: July 12, 2014
  • Hazelton Farmers’ Market: July 13, 2014

When the mobile farm bookstore is not on the road, it can be accessed at the Community Futures Fraser-Fort George office in Prince George during normal office hours. Thanks to the new Square Mobile Payment system, bookstore items can be purchased using cash, cheque or credit. To help put information in the hands of those who need it, titles are offered at a steep discount from their suggested list price.

If you have any questions about this Mobile Farm Bookstore or any of our other progras, please contact us at any time. We look forward to seeing you this summer!

Groundbreakers Collective seeking producers

Dear Northern Grower,

We would like to invite growers from regional districts Bulkley-Nechako and Kitimat-Stikine to become a member of Groundbreakers Collective.

Groundbreakers is both a charitable organization and a social enterprise cooperative. On the charitable side of things, the group provides educational programs and hands-on workshops on food preservation as a means to make the most of local food all year round. The social enterprise (cooperative) coordinates a Harvest Box Program, helping connect food producers and consumers, with the aim of creating a sustainable local food network and resilient economy.

Our Harvest Box Program runs from September to May each year. We supply over 80 families with 100% local produce and value added items. We use a CSA (community supported agriculture) model such that customers pre-order and pre-pay for their box, as well as help on local farms. As a CSA there is a shared risk and mutual support between customers, producers, and Groundbreakers. A CSA directly links supply and demand for efficient farming as well. To help with this, our Harvest Box coordinator contracts producers in the spring to grow specific amounts of specific product.

At this time we are accepting producer intake forms from anyone interested in becoming a producer for the 2014/2015 season.

More information about what it is to be a Groundbreakers producer can be found on our website at under the “What’s New” tab or by emailing our Coordinator Dawn at or Board Member Mark at

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or to find out more information on how you may become involved.

Groundbreakers Collective.

Farmer Correspondence: Succession Planning Workshop

One of the goals of New Farm Development Initiative is connect new farmers in the region with training opportunities and knowledgeable mentors. As part of this goal, we offer support to farm correspondents who wish to attend and travel to agriculture industry events. These correspondents assist us in linking to information and contacts available in our region and beyond and provide valuable insight into the value of attending such events.

About Sharon

Sharon Kerr is a former 4-H Extension Worker.  For the past 47 years she has ranched in the Bulkley Valley with her husband, Harold. They are still actively ranching with their son Dallas and his wife, Laine. As retirement looms the Succession Planning workshop was a very timely event to assist them in planning for the future.

Learning About Succession Planning

Succession Planning workshops in Burns Lake and Smithers were facilitated by BC Ministry of Agriculture Agri Food Business Development Specialist, Clint Ellison, along with consultant Howard Joynt.  John Stevenson, Skeena Region Agrologist was on hand providing local input. During the morning session Joynt and Ellison, guided participants through part one of the two part succession planning process by having the group develop a model farm/family and work through possible solutions to the transfer of the ownership.

Howard Joint, P.Ag. reviewing farm financial
Howard Joint, P.Ag. reviewing farm financials

Rules and laws affecting transfers were discussed as the group worked through the four step process.

  1. Collecting data: financial information, personal information, and other documents such as wills, agreements and leases.
  2. Review of critical issues: ownership, control, security, on farm living and equal vs equitable treatment of children.
  3. Setting goals: is it feasible to transfer the farm and secure the needs of parents and children?
  4. Succession planning tools: rollovers, Capital Gains, Capital Gains Reserves, Capital Gains Deductions and other tax issues, business arrangements, life interests, security, methods of owning property and will planning.

Discussions with an accountant and/or lawyer during part one was noted as possibly being helpful.

John Bakker, CGA, from Vandergaag and Bakker in Smithers
John Bakker, CGA, from Vandergaag & Bakker Certified General Accountants

The afternoon session covering part two of the succession planning process looked at the role accountants, financial advisors, lawyers and insurance agents might play in completing a succession plan. Accountant, John Bakker of Vandergaag and Bakker and Donald Giddings and Sonali Sharma of Giddings and Company law office discussed some options for dealing with the transfer of farms and farm assets.

It was emphasized that documents relating to the purchase of property and income tax records make it much easier and less costly for accountants and lawyers to assist with succession planning and the inter-generational transfer of land and assets. Bakker worked through an example of the transfer of milk quota.

Giddings noted there are several options in transferring assets. Under the Wills Variation Act, Giddings says spouses and children cannot be cut out of a will.  If children are to be treated differently then an explanation of the distribution of assets with good reasons may help if adult children challenge a will.  Trusts are an option to protect property and for those over 65 Alter Ego Trusts can be utilized to avoid challenges to a will.

Sonali Sharma, artcling student with Giddings & Company Law Office
Sonali Sharma, articling student with Giddings & Company Law Office

Sonali Sharma, articling student with Giddings briefed the group on the new Family Law Act that replaces the Family Relations Act.  Under the new legislation a spouse is not automatically entitled to property held by the other spouse prior to the marriage.  Property accumulated following a marriage is deemed to be family property.     The death of a spouse and the re-marriage of the remaining partner can create issues but there are ways of coping with such situations.

In summing up the succession planning process it was emphasized that one of the biggest challenges is in covering off debt service while looking after the needs of parents and children. There is no right or wrong way and no “one size fits all” approach.   It was noted that some bank products exist that could be helpful.

Succession planning can be an emotional process and a fairly complex project.  It is among the specialized business planning services that are available to eligible farmers with 85% of costs up to $3,000 paid for through the BC Farm Business Advisory Services. E-mail: or going to the Advisory Services Tab at: