This past weekend, a workshop for Revy. Set. Grow, took place in the Macpherson Room at the Community Centre. Roughly 20 people attended both the morning and afternoon workshop on Saturday, January 13th to seek out information about co-op farms and the realities of implementing one in Revelstoke.
Community Connections teamed up with the Young Agrarians to put on this workshop to look at who would be interested in creating a partnership between land owner and inspired farmer as well as the feasibility of this cooperative working in Revelstoke.
The Land Linking Workshop is a way to connect landowners who my have a stretch of earth that they wish to both make a profit on, as well as contribute back to the health and wellness of the community in some way; and the inspired farmer will get a chance to share their expertise and knowledge on how to utilize the land.
98% of food is imported to Revelstoke according to the Revelstoke Food Security Strategy (2014). There are working farms within the surrounding area, Terra Firma Farms is a fine example of a great farm with a stronghold on community giving. With the surrounding lands, and numerous property owners wanting to give back, there is an opportunity to see growth in this sector.
This could be a huge benefit for retiring farmers of those that like to see land create dollars. In a press release in December, Community Connections-food Security Coordinator stated, “For farmers, the benefits of leasing land are obvious: more opportunities to produce food and in turn, profits. There are benefits for landowners too. In addition to tax exemptions landowners may receive if their land is farmed, a farm lease can add cultivation value or provide a chance to test producing something new on the land. For farmer landowners who wish to step back or retire, leasing can keep the land productive.”
Heather Pritchard, co-op Developer- FarmFolk, CityFolk- was in Revelstoke to share her 34 years of commercial growing experience within the co-op world. Heather has a vast array of experience with food security projects, including the development of several community farms and farmland trusts.
“I live in Langley where my cooperative farm is, it has been a great success for 34 years. It really does make a positive difference.” Pritchard told the Revelstoke Current.
In simplified terms there are a several different co-ops all working together. A co-op for seed producing, a co-op for land owners, a co-op for farmers and several others all working under an umbrella to make the concept work.
General Manager of Community Futures- Revelstoke was in attendance on Saturday to extend his support not only to this idea and concept for our community, but an offer of financial assistance as well.
“Community Futures will lend up to $50k to help start or to expand this concept and idea. You can sit down with our loans analyst- even if there is an issue in regards to collateral or credit history. We are happy to help with Business Development guidance- there is no rule as to what we can or can’t do in terms of investment planning.”
Revy. Set Grow, is in its infancy. This weekend was designed to open up the dialogue, have discussions and listen to the tutorials to gain knowledge to find out if this idea would be sustainable in our climate.
indicators of Climate Adaptation in the Columbia Basin Report states, “The availability of agricultural areas and locally produced food is becoming increasingly important to Basin communities, a trend that could strengthen as climate change negatively affects agricultural production in other parts of the world. In addition, small-scale and backyard agriculture is on the rise as many Basin residents aim to become more self-sufficient with locally grown food.”
Many feel that because of our long harsh winters, this concept may not be able to hold. However, according to a Columbia Basin Trust Climate Action Program Report, we will be getting warmer and dryer as the years roll along. in 60-80 years the Revelstoke climate will be similar to Okanagan Falls area. These types of programs may very well be thinking in the long term for the future of farming and agricultural land in Revelstoke.