Category Archives: September 2011

BeyondtheMarket.ca has Launched

We are pleased to announce the launch of a  new website to help consumers connect with local food options in their community as part of an ongoing effort to build, strengthen, and diversify the food and farm industries in BC’s Highway 16 region from Valemount to Terrace.

BeyondtheMarket.ca features a number of tools and information resources that will assist local chefs, caterers and individual consumers alike in offering fresh healthy choices on their menu and at home.

Resources include:

  • A searchable directory of local farms offering direct sales
  • A calendar of food and agriculture events in the region
  • A list of all northern BC farmers’ markets
  • Information and downloadable fact sheets on the different kinds of northern food products and their seasonal availability
  • Monthly farm profiles
  • Much, much more

BeyondtheMarket.ca will house news, updates and publications of the project, and will continue to grow as more work is done. The website even offers a digital subscription and archive for our quarterly newsletter so you can be kept up to date on what’s happening. Log-on today and let us know what you think!

Celebrate World Food Day with Taste of the North

World Food Day is celebrated around the world on October 16th to honour the date of the founding of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Foundation.

This year, we are hosting a special event on Sunday, October 16th to celebrate World Food Day and to kick-off our Regional Food Systems Expo in Prince George.

Taste of the North: a Feast of Local Flavour is offering the public a unique gourmet dining experience. With a glass and napkin in hand, you can taste the very best that northern agriculture has to offer.

Prepared by Chef Christian and the students of the CNC Professional Cook Program, this wandering gala will feature more than a dozen unique taste sensations prepared using a wide of variety of meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, grains, and more, all harvested from the Highway 16 region.

Taste of the North will highlight the relationship between farmer and chef, and showcase the potential of our local food system. Guests can expect to bump elbows with many of the farmers who provided food for the menu while sampling a feast of culinary delights.

Tickets for the event are $40.00 and will go on sale Sept 19, 2011.

To purchase tickets or for more info, visit our website or contact Jillian. 250-562-9622 ext 115

jillianm@cfdc.bc.ca

September Profile: BC Historic Café

Tera Brooks and Brad Wilson purchased the Historic BC Café in Hazelton, BC from the Chan family in November 2010 and opened their doors to their first customer in February of 2011.

As the name would suggest, there is a rich history to the Café.  Originally built in 1920, the Café has operated as both a hotel and brothel and has twice burned to the ground.  Today, under the new owners you can still feel that history when you walk through the café doors.

The Historic BC Café is a quaint combination of historical charm coupled with modern technology. New equipment and counters add polish to the building.

Tera and Brad admit there are many challenges to owning a restaurant in the North; suppliers are few and far between and you have to manage your relationships with them carefully.  When there are only one or two suppliers to choose from, it can be very costly and frustrating when you get poor service.  In 2010, Tera and Brad had to close the café twice because propane deliveries were cancelled without notice in -22C° weather.

Now, with their first year nearly behind them, things are running smoothly at the Café.

Local food has been an extremely important addition to their menu.  In a town where excitement comes in small doses, the Historic BC Café has created a new menu to add more variety and “change things up”.

“When using local food in the menu, you help build a self-sustaining community” says Brad, “It just makes sense”.

One of the most well-received menu specials at the Café is the food taste tests.  Brad will prepare dishes with a combination of local and imported foods and allow customers to sample the difference. He says customers like to participate in their food buying decisions, and they feel involved in the Café.  It may come as no surprise that in the taste test menu, local food always wins.

Running a restaurant in a town without a recycling depot is also challenging.  Everything purchased comes in cardboard, but Brad and Tera do the best they can.  Recycling is hauled Terrace or Smithers when they make a trip, and the Café supplies biodegradable take-out containers and utensils.

Modern thinking, combined with the history of Old Hazelton, ensures that the Historic BC Café is a frequented stop for visitors and long time customers alike.

The Historic BC Café

(250) 842-5775

1630 Omineca St.

Hazelton, BC

info@bccafe.ca

Hungry for more?

Beyond the Market is currently building an online directory of food service businesses in the Highway 16 region that serve fresh, healthy and local ingredients. Does your favourite burger joint use beef from a local ranch? Does your neighbourhood grocer carry seasonal produce from the local area? Have you used catering services that offer local purchasing options? We want to hear about it! We strive to provide consumers with the information they need to make the right choices, but our services often rely on submissions from happy customers like you. Find our contact information on the website or at the back of this newsletter to reach us.

As always, continue to spread the word about your favourite eatery with friends and family. Let’s eat healthy. Let’s eat fresh. Let’s eat local!

Business Case: Selling at BC Farmers’ Markets

The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets is pleased to announce the release of the “Selling at BC’s Farmers’ Markets” series.  This comprehensive package of business planning materials is designed for BC farmers who want to sell their products at a farmers’ market.

The series provides farmers with the information they need to be able to determine whether selling at a BC farmers’ market will match with their business goals.

Farmers markets have proven to be a successful marketing channel that directly links farmers and customers who are keen to buy food grown in BC. However, the reality is that farmers’ markets are not for every farmer.  What works for one farmer may not work for another.

The “Selling at BC’s Farmers’ Markets” series provides details about who is selling at farmers’ markets and what farmers’ markets have to offer them.

The series includes profiles of BC’s farmers’ markets, its market customers, and its vendors.  The market vendors are also profiled for each of the following product groups:  vegetable, fruit, fruit & vegetables, and meat.  Each profile is presented as a four-page pamphlet.  All of these materials are available on the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets website.

 

BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

(604) 734-9797

info@bcfarmersmarket.org

Suite 311 – 119 West Pender Street Box 48
Vancouver, BC

V6B 1S5

Selling at BC Farmers’ Markets

Download at:

www.bcfarmersmarket.org/ind/bizcase.htm

Funding Available: Renewable Energy in Agriculture

Applications are now being accepted from B.C. producers who want to incorporate renewable energy technologies into their existing agricultural and agri-food operations.

“Adopting renewable technologies like wind turbines and geothermal heating will help ensure a sustainable future for farming and the environment,” said federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

Funded through the federal-provincial Growing Forward agreement, feasibility assessments will assist farm families and agri-food businesses in applying these technologies to reduce energy costs, become energy self-sufficient, cut greenhouse gas emissions and diversify beyond conventional agricultural-based income sources.

Successful applicants will undergo a confidential, in-depth assessment to determine the technical and financial viability of integrating a specific renewable energy technology into their existing operation. They will receive an implementation plan to follow, should they decide to proceed with installation of the technology being examined at their operation.

Participants will be required to contribute toward the cost of their assessment before it commences, and to consent to the release of their assessment (with confidential information removed) upon its completion. This contribution will be 30 per cent of the costs (up to a maximum of $5,000).

For more information on the Renewable Energy Technology Feasibility Program or other funding and support programs offered through the five-year, $475 million Growing Forward agreement, refer to the contact information below.

Renewable Energy Technology Feasibility Program

Colleen Colwell
Ministry of Agriculture
Phone: (250) 356-0488
Email: Colleen.Colwell@gov.bc.ca

www.kmwpp.ca/climate_action/

Growing Forward Services and Programs in BC

www.agf.gov.bc.ca/apf/

Regional Food Systems Expo 2011

Calling all farmers, ranchers, agricultural operators, chefs, caterers, grocers, food service operators and all others working in Northern BC’s regional food system!

Beyond the Market is hosting a Regional Food Systems Expo to showcase opportunities for northern food and agriculture.

This one-day event scheduled for Monday, October 17, 2011 in Prince George and will offer workshops and seminars from experts that will assist you in developing or strengthening new agriculture and culinary practices. The event will host several roundtable discussions on the industry giving you the chance to discuss challenges and opportunities with other farm and food service managers.

The keystone event will be a farmer-chef speed networking session, during which all participants will have the opportunity to speak one-one-one about potential business partnerships. Agricultural operators are encouraged to bring their seed catalogues, photos and list of potential products, while chefs and food service operators should bring their menus and culinary inspiration.

Whether you are a farmer interested in direct marketing your products or a chef looking to feature local ingredients on your menu, you do not want to miss this event.

Registration is free and open to all existing or potential northern farm operators and food service providers. A special public forum in the afternoon will be open to anyone who wishes to attend from the general public.

Register today as seating is limited. Travel subsides may be available upon request. Don’t forget to come a day early and attend our Taste of the North Gala on October 16, 2011.

For more information and to register, visit our website or contact us directly.

 

August: Northern Bioponics Ltd

One of the biggest challenges to agriculture in the north is the long and cold winter season that puts a ‘freeze’ on all growing activities. Farm operators can store and sell hardy crops such as carrots and cabbage, but perishable products like fresh herbs and greens are traditionally only available in the spring and summer months. That is, of course, until now, when a new state of the art aquaponic system in Prince George is being put to the test.

Northern Bioponics Ltd. is the brainchild of German engineer Matthias Zapletal, who moved to Canada in 1999. Matthias has constructed an aquaponic facility, began its operations in May of this year, and is now yielding its first produce crops. Aquaponic systems, like hydroponics, cultivate plants in water, without soil. However, unlike hydroponics, aquaponic systems do not require synthetic fertilizers. Instead, living fish, which are also raised for food, provide all the nutrient needs for the plants. Biofilters convert the ammonia from fish effluent into nitrates that are readily absorbed by the plants. The plants then filter the water for re-use by the fish. The Northern Bioponics system is a closed system that requires as little a 200L of water input a week to maintain water levels. It is heated by 800 sq. ft. of solar panels and a wood-fired boiler in a well-designed greenhouse. Aquaponic systems such as this are one of the world’s most sustainable methods of producing food.

The Northern Bioponics system is certainly the first of its kind in the north. It currently holds 1000 head of tilapia, a tasty and hardy freshwater fish that is resistant to temperature fluctuations. At its peak, the system will hold 2500 fish and produce approximately 700 heads of lettuce a week in the 1100 sq ft. growing space. While it takes time to build the system to its full capacity, as a balance of fish, nitrates and plants must always be in place, Matthias is already harvesting and selling some produce, and the fish will be ready to sell in January 2012 once they reach full size.

Operating on the leading edge of innovation, Northern Bioponics has had several challenges. Matthias would have organic certification, but the Certified Organic Associations of BC do not yet have a classification for soilless systems of agriculture, and it may

take them several years to create one. Furthermore, commercial fish food is traditionally geared towards the aquaculture industry, and thus has a different nutrient profile than what is best for an aquaponic system. Matthias has been experimenting with adding ingredients such as kelp to the fish food to provide more enzymes.

As a business operator, Matthias chose to locate in Prince George because of the availability of space and market for local production. He felt that as a start-up operation, he would not be able to compete with the large existing greenhouses in the Okanagan and Fraser Valley. He admits that farming will never make him rich, but he hopes to at least make a living.

The possibility of having sustainably grown fresh salad greens, herbs and fish available locally through the winter is certainly an exciting one. Matthias hopes to make connections with many local restaurants and larger buyers in the region to make use of his 700 heads of lettuce per week capacity. You can also find him at the Prince George Farmers Market this October selling produce and sharing the excitement of his new venture.

July: Happy Pig Organic Farm

When Marlene Thimer and her family started Happy Pig Organic Farm in 2008 some people in the farming community were a little skeptical of the potential of an organic livestock operation in this area. Now, the only certified livestock producer along the highway 16 corridor and one of only three certified pork producers in the province of BC, Happy Pig Organic Farm raises 60 pigs, 1000 roasting chickens, and 100 turkeys annually.

When asked about the challenges in starting an organic farm, her first answer is the high cost of “everything”.  Marlene recounts a conversation with a customer which has always stuck in her mind. “As an organic farmer, you should be cheaper then everyone else,” the customer boldly complained. “You don’t use any medication, fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides.  Your costs should be less.”

This is almost all true, Marlene says, but it is very difficult to find certified feed that has not been fertilized or sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.  Marlene has to purchase organic grain from Darwell, AB and then have it trucked into the valley. She then mixes her own feed in small batches so it is always fresh for the critters.  The minerals and vitamins for the feed also have to be trucked in – the minimum order is one ton.  Pens and fence posts all require using untreated wood and no oil based paints.  Marlene notes that even though she has never had a sick animal (knocks on wood), once you give an animal pharmaceuticals, you can no longer sell it as organic, even though you have already invested into raising it as an organic animal.

One of the biggest cost increases with an organic system is labour required for animal movement across the pasture.  Marlene’s new chicken and turkey pens are moved once per week, instead of the twice per day I with my old system, and the pigs have a new 10 acre paddock every two months which means moving plenty of temporary electric fencing.

Despite the hardships of starting a new organic farm, the hard work is starting to pay off.  Happy Pig Organics have been marketing using print, Internet and word of mouth to attract more customers and regularly attend Farmers Markets in Smithers, Terrace & Prince George.  Next year Marlene and Paul will increase pig, chicken, and turkey production hoping to double their current numbers.

Marlene is very grateful for her customers that take the time to become educated about the benefits of organic food.  It’s a growing customer base with increased awareness of the impacts of conventional farming practices on the environment and animals.  You can witness some of Marlene’s success yourself each Saturday at the Bulkley Valley Farmers Market – there is always a steady line up at her stand purchasing Happy Biscuit breakfast sandwiches and placing orders for pork, chickens & turkeys.