Join us for two days of workshops for small-scale, ecological farmers and farmers-to-be on Vancouver Island. Dive in to amazing networking opportunities and skills-sharing with experienced farmer facilitators who are ready to help you grow your farm business. We’ve got workshops on everything from farm business planning to holistic management and livestock to crop planning, land access, and more! Are you farm-curious, or thinking about becoming a farmer? JOIN US! Everyone is welcome!
When: Saturday, January 28 – Sunday January 29, 2017
Where: Camp Pringle, Coast Salish Territory Camp (Shawnigan Lake), 2520 West Shawnigan Lake Rd, Shawnigan Lake B.C. V0R 2W3
Cost: Our updated price is $50-100 as we have now sold out of beds. If you would like to stay over, please bring a sleeping mat and bedding, and be prepared to stay in the common areas. Work trade options are available.
Questions? Please contact Moss: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accommodation & Meals
- UPDATE JANUARY 23: Beds are now all taken, so if you would like to stay with us, please bring a sleeping mat and bedding, and be prepared to stay in the common areas. Registrants before January 23 who signed up for accommodation will share rooms with bunk beds that can accommodate 2-6 people.
- All guests are asked to please bring their own bedding, towels and toiletries
- Showers are available to guests
- Bathrooms are multi-stall gendered washrooms. Each building will have a gender neutral washroom option.
- Delicious lunches and Sunday morning breakfast featuring local ingredients will be provided (please inform us about dietary restrictions in the registration questionnaire)
- Saturday night we are hosting a potluck! Please bring a dish to share. We will be providing vegetarian and animal protein dinner options 🙂
- travel mug for your coffee or tea (this will help us to do fewer dishes!)
- Potluck dish for our Saturday night potluck social – invite your friends! A small kitchen will be available for heating up food and refrigerating potluck dishes.
- Bedding, towel, toiletries. If you’ve registered on January 23 or after, you will also need to bring a sleeping mat.
- Notebook for soaking up all the farmtastic wisdom!
- Warm, water-proof clothing for walks or any workshops that might head outside.
We are deeply grateful to be holding this gathering on Coast Salish territory and would like to acknowledge the Malahat Nation and Chief Caroline Harry, as well as the Quw’utsun First Nation and Chief William Seymour. We look forward to featuring wisdom-sharing from Indigenous leaders (names TBA) from these communities and harvesting a deeper knowledge of what it means to farm within a context of colonization and ongoing Indigenous stewardship of land & traditional foodsheds.
Workshops & Speakers
Opening & Welcome – Ron George, Tousilum
Ron George is an Elder and drum-maker from Quw’utsun’ who will lead us in opening our gathering and welcoming us to the territory. We are grateful and delighted that he will be joining us!
The Xwayxum Project (Burgoyne Bay, Salt Spring Island) – Deb George & Joe Akerman
Description coming soon!
Introduction to Holistic Management – Dana Penrice & Ted Chastko, C&E Meats, Alberta
This workshop will be an introduction to Holistic Management, a value-based decision-making framework that integrates all aspects of planning for social, economic, and environmental considerations. For over 30 years farmers, ranchers, and pastoralists have used Holistic Management to improve the land, grow nutritious food, and play a vital role in their local communities. This workshop will cover:
- Understanding your “whole under management”
- Setting goals for successful business planning
- Testing questions and tools for decision making
- Resources management and planned grazing
- Ecosystem monitoring
Dana Penrice and Ted Chastko are the owners of C & E Meats and the Prairie Pasture Project. Their farm began in 2014, with the goal of building landscapes that support resilient communities and regenerative ecosystems. Ted grew up on a family farm in Manitoba and brings a wealth of knowledge on rotational grazing, ecosystem monitoring and animal husbandry. Dana is the coordinator for Holistic Management Canada and brings experience in goal setting, planning and communications. C & E Meats is located just outside Lacombe, Alberta where they raise grass-fed beef and lamb and pasture-raised chicken. Dana and Ted believe that grazing livestock and poultry can heal our planet. Using Holistic Management and intensive grazing, they have seen dramatic improvements in the soil, land and ecosystem. The dung beetles are back baby!
Farm Business Planning – Chris Bodnar, Close to Home Organics, Abbotsford, BC
There is no standard formula as to what a farmer ought to be, nor what a farming business must look like. Rather, successful farmers will have a clear sense of what they want to accomplish and why they are the appropriate people to accomplish it. Having a business plan contributes to this clarity the way having a map and a trip plan helps a traveller reach their destination. But only 1 in 5 farm business have a business plan… which means a lot of people are getting lost in their journey. This workshop will provide new and experienced farmers alike with the basics of writing a solid, realistic business plan. This includes setting measurable and attainable goals through to calculating the value of a crop per row-foot of land. By learning how to clearly articulate what it is their business will do and how they will do it, workshop participants will be better able to assess the viability of their plans and focus on profitable farming. This, in turn, will ultimately support them in achieving their personal and business goals.
Chris Bodnar co-owns and operates Close to Home Organics with his wife, Paige, at Glen Valley Organic Farm in Abbotsford. Now in their tenth season of farming, Chris and his family have learned some of the challenges and opportunities of farming on a small scale in the organic sector. They operate a 135-member Community Shared Agriculture program and sell at two weekly farmers markets during the farming season. Prior to farming Chris earned a PhD in Communication from Carleton University. His academic interests continue through teaching and writing. Chris teaches the business planning components of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Sustainable Agriculture program. Chris sits on the board of the Mount Lehman Credit Union. He does business planning consulting with small-scale farmers and is a mentor with the Young Agrarians’ BC Business Mentorship Network.
Crop Planning for Profitability – Seann Dory, Farmer, Salt & Harrow
Learn a crop planning and record keeping system, and general principles for creating your own system. The crop planning method will help you manage a CSA, farmers markets and help translate your market goals into a useable crop plan. The method is meant to streamline your communication around plantings, harvest time and fields prep. There will be plenty of examples and spreadsheets!
Seann J Dory farms on Vancouver Island at Salt & Harrow Farm. Before starting Salt & Harrow, Seann was the Co-Director and Founder of Sole Food Street Farms, a social enterprise that provides jobs and agricultural training for people in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Seann is a founding member of the Young Agrarians; an initiative to recruit, promote and support young farmers in Canada. Seann speaks regularly at events including the Young Farmers Conference at Stone Barns and the EAT! Festival. Seann in a member of the National Farmers Union and is part of the steering committee for the National New Farmers Coalition, working on farm policy to reduce barriers for new farmers entering agriculture.
Communicating with Heart: Collaborative conflict resolution on the farm – Keeley Nixon
Conflict is inevitable in any job and the lived reality of being a farmer, hiring or working for one, means sticky situations can be commonplace. In this workshop you’ll learn how to approach tough conversations in a collaborative way. Discover the factors that affect conflict, cues for self awareness, and styles of conflict (plus how to work with them). Come join this fast-paced session and build a toolbox of practical strategies to address conflict for positive outcomes. Leave with insight and confidence to show up for hard conversations with open ears and an open heart both on and off the farm.
Have an example of an on-farm conflict you’re dealing with that you’d love to see used as an example to work through? Send a line to Keeley (email@example.com) and she’ll do her best to include!
Keeley Nixon has been involved in farming and food activism since moving from the BC interior in 2001. She is a local farmer and seed grower, and coordinator for a wide range of agricultural projects. A facilitator and mediator in training, Keeley thrives on working with farmers through conflict and tough conversations by listening and collaborating to create durable changes and preserve important relationships. She brings her experience both in and out of the field, passion for cooking, good design, community engagement and general joie de vivre to all that she does.
Collective Power: Accessing Land, Markets & Opportunities Together – Arzeena Hamir, Heather Pritchard & Jen Cody
Hear from three farmers about how co-ops and collaborations have made a difference to their farms, and their communities. From community farms to marketing co-ops to social enterprise, these three farmers have rich stories to share to inspire you to collaborate and grow.
Arzeena Hamir is a founding member of Merville Organics Growers Cooperative. She is also a Professional Agrologist who specializes in organic food production. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Crop Science from the University of Guelph and her Master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of London, England. From 2008-2012 Arzeena was the Coordinator of the Richmond Food Security Society where she oversaw a number of community projects which included a proposal to the City of Richmond to declare itself a GMO-free Zone. In 2012, she and her husband purchased Amara Farm, a 25 acre farm, in Courtenay, BC. The farm became certified organic in 2015, the same year that Merville Organics Growers Cooperative was officially formed.
Jen Cody is currently the executive director for Nanaimo Foodshare. She comes to farming, seed saving and working with First Nations communities learning about indigenous foods through a her background in community development and nutrition. She has been active in the food community since 1998 and is a founding member of the BC Food Systems Network. Jen is an active coordinator/worker and founder of Growing Opportunities Community Farm. In it’s 9th year, the farm is working with people of all levels of ability. As a part of her farm involvement, Jen is the farm lead for the Carrot Seed Research Project. Jen coordinates the Centre Island Seed Savers Network and is active in teaching seed saving skills in the community. Jen is also a founding member of BC EcoSeeds Coop and continues to support creating a local seed system through her work at the farm, beekeeping, and in the community teaching and organizing community projects with Nanaimo Foodshare.
Heather Pritchard – bio coming soon!
Keyline Water Management: Slow, Sink, Spread, Store & Plan for Overflow – Tayler Krawczyk
This session will explore the application of an Australian-innovated strategy for whole farm water planning that harmonizes farm activities to natural contours to achieve water management goals. The session will be particularly relevant to farms with slope, although some flat-land techniques will be mentioned. The workshop will explore:
- The story of the “Keyline Water Management Project”
- Introduction to ‘Keyline Geometry’
- Using contour maps for farm water planning
- Keyline plowing to reduce compaction & manage water
- Monitoring results to date
- Alternative drainage techniques for bottom-lands
- Q & A
Tayler Krawczyk is the project lead for Hatchet & Seed, an edible landscaping & resilient farm development business based in North Saanich, BC. He completed a degree in International Development Studies and spent 5 years in the forestry and silviculture industry. He is currently leading a 3 year ‘keyline water management’ project that is monitoring the effects of ‘keyline subsoil plowing’ and ‘keyline agro-forestry layout’ as a means of restoring compacted pasture and managing on-farm water. He and his partner Solara grow & propagate hundreds of edible, medicinal & useful plants at their homestead and also run an urban edible landscaping business.
Market Your Farm Like a Pro – Kristen Nammour, Roanne Weyermars & Rachel Segal
It’s kind of hard to believe that after a long day in the fields or pastures, you also have to market what you raise & grow. Many farmers report that marketing is their least favourite part of the job. From farmers’ markets to CSAs, from social media to print advertising, farmers can feel lost in the world of marketing. Need help? Join us for a panel with three amazing marketeers: Kristen Nammour (YA’s Business Mentorship Newtork Superstar), Roanne Weyermars (Islands Organic Producers Association marketing sage) and Rachel Segal (Quadra Island farmer & marketer extraordinaire) for an enlightening discussion on marketing farm products, harnessing the power of social media and finding your customers.
Kristen Nammour has has been involved with a variety of BC food systems ranging from a small balcony garden to a six-acre mixed-vegetable organic farm and from food hubs to community-supported-fisheries. Currently she combines her love of growing with her business background to manage the YA Business Mentorship Network, a program dedicated to supporting the development of business skills in new farmers. She enjoys watching chickens, all things kale, and spread-sheets.
Roanne Weyermars works with Islands Organic Producers Association to promote organic certification and strengthen our local organic community on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. She’s been a marketer and strategist for 15 years, most recently leading one of BC’s top brands. Roanne is as passionate about the power of storytelling and driving consumer engagement as she is about nutrition, sustainable agriculture and local food security. In 2016, Roanne moved home to Vancouver Island where she, her husband and two kale-loving kids bought several acres in the Cowichan Valley they soon hope to farm. Roanne also works with Coast Capital Savings in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility further exercising her passion for the planet.
Rachel Segal spent nearly a decade working for large corporations and promoting marketing agencies in Toronto, Los Angeles and Vancouver before settling down with her partner Scott (and two small kids) in the wilds of the Discovery Islands first as part of a working farm operating completely off the grid on Cortes Island and now on their own plot of future farmland on Quadra Island. Just over four years ago, Rachel shifted course to working freelance as an independent consultant so that she and her partner could better balance and incorporate their agricultural ambitions into their daily life. With big goals for establishing a micro-creamery and confectionery business with their herd of tiny goats, Rachel and Scott continue to still juggle work life with farm life and family life, sharing the highs and lows of their adventures and progress on Instagram @firsttimefarmers.
Small Engine Maintenance – A Hands on Session with Heather Ramsay
Few things are more frustrating than going to use your rototiller and finding that it won’t run. In this fully-demonstrated workshop, you’ll learn how to do basic maintenance to help prevent that from happening. We’ll use a rototiller as an example, but the same principles apply to the small 4-cycle engines commonly also found on walk-behind tractors, lawn mowers and other small farm equipment.
We’ll cover the basics of:
- how small engines work
- cleaning air filters
- fuel system and ignition system checks
- checking and changing engine oil
- cleaning out the cooling system
Heather Ramsay co-manages Umi Nami Farm in Metchosin, BC, along with the owner Yoshiko Unno. Heather came to Umi Nami Farm as a WWOOFer in 2009, joined as an apprentice in 2010 and then began a business partnership with Yoshiko in 2014. She is excited about maintenance and repair of farm machinery as a way to keep farm costs down, be empowered and enjoy new challenges. Umi Nami Farm does year-round production of Japanese vegetables.
Land Leasing & Regulations – Darcy Smith, YA Land Matching Program Coordinator
Got Land? Want Land? Join the YA Land Matching Program Coordinator for a session exploring the nuts and bolts of leasing land. We’ll look at what goes into creating a solid land arrangement: best practices for your lease, registered leases, the regulations surrounding farm tax status, housing and ALR, communication tools and building a strong relationship with land owners, seeking legal counsel, and key factors in assessing land. You’ll come away with a solid understanding of the resources available to support you, and the knowledge to help you approach land owners and build out mutually beneficial land agreements. Bring your questions!
Darcy Smith is the Young Agrarians Land Matcher for the Fraser Valley, a pilot project modelled off of Quebec’s successful Banque de Terres (Land Bank) program to connect new farmers to available land. (youngagrarians.org/land)
Intro to the Online Soil Mapping Tool – DeLisa Lewis
Did you know that we have an amazing online mapping tool for soils in our region? If you are thinking of leasing land, or even if you’ve already started your farm, this tool can help you identify farm planning opportunities and soil management challenges particular to the soils on your land. In this interactive workshop, you will learn how soil texture, drainage, and other key soil characteristics can make a difference in the ease of managing your crops and livestock.
DeLisa Lewis was bit by the farming bug more than 20 years ago. Her journey as a new and not-so-new farmer covers multiple growing regions, soil types, climates and markets. Somewhere in the middle of all that rooting and uprooting as a practicing farmer, she earned a PhD in Soils and Agroecology and began digging into new farmer training. She operates Green Fire Farm, a certified organic, 40-acre mixed vegetables and livestock farm, with her family in the Cowichan Valley. During the winter months, she teaches sustainable agriculture courses in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC, consults on farming systems and nutrient management, and serves as a Young Agrarians Business Mentor.
Raffle: Greens Harvester!
We are excited to announce that Farmer’s Friend has donated a Quick Cut Greens Harvester! We will be holding a raffle for this fantastic tool at both our Vancouver Island and our Okanagan Mixers. We have one tool to raffle – so we will draw one winner from the two gatherings. Tickets will be $5/each, $10 for 3 and $15 for 5. Save your loonies and twonies and bring them with you to enter to win!
If you can offer a ride, or need a ride, please head over to our Facebook event page to post your offer or need!
This event was made possible with funding support from Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative and the Island Coastal Economic Trust. Thank you to all our funders and sponsors.
Thank you to Our Amazing Sponsors!