OCT 25-26, 2019: ROSSLAND, BC – Columbia Basin Mixer

Posted by Michalina Hunter on July 15, 2019

Columbia Basin, mixer, rossland bc, kootenay, kootenays

Join us at Red Mountain Resort and the new Nowhere Special Hostel for two days of workshops and networking at the Columbia Basin Mixer! This year’s mixer will be integrated with the Basin Food Summit’s Agriculture Forum on Friday October 25th, and continue on Saturday October 26th with more in-depth programming for new and young farmers. In the spirit of YA mixers, this will be an opportunity to engage and network, share ideas and access the knowledge and experience you need to build your farm and business for success. Let’s dive in deep together and create future resilience within the Columbia Basin foodshed!

Columbia Basin Mixer

WHEN: Friday, October 25th – Saturday, October 26th, 2019

WHERE: Sinixt, Ktunaxa & Sylix Territory – Red Mountain Resort & Nowhere Special Hostel, Rossland BC

REGISTER: Register today here!  (Scroll down in the ticketing popup to find the Mixer tickets)

COST: The ticket is a sliding scale of $50 to $100 and includes food and education for Friday and Saturday, and accommodation at the new Nowhere Special Hostel at the base of Red Mountain Ski Resort for Friday and Saturday nights. A stellar deal!

ADDITIONAL ACCOMMODATION: If you need to arrange accommodation for other nights, check out Nowhere Special Hostel, or post in the Facebook event discussion to offer or request billeting.

ON FACEBOOK: Share and stay up to date in the Facebook event to offer or ask for ride shares and billeting. 


We are working hard to bring you a full and inspiring agenda, and many opportunities to connect and build relationships. There will be hands on sessions, open discussions, and formal presentations – something for everyone! Based on your feedback we’ve focused on the themes of farm start up, soil health, climate change mitigation and adaptation, land linking, succession planning, and emerging agriculture technologies – along with a sprinkle of other awesome topics. There is something for everyone – whether you’re growing vegetables, fruit, flowers, herbs, perennials, mushrooms, livestock and more!

YA Mixers are known for the remarkable connections made, such as new possibilities for selling, meeting someone with the land that you would like to work, or identifying a shared interest/resource. To make the most of this, come to the mixer with an openness to meet new people, share something that you have to offer (like employment, land or special skills) and something that you might need (such as specific tools, crop planning models, or mentorship).


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Check out the agenda for the whole Basin Food Summit and Mixer here.

Session Descriptions and Speaker Bios


Aimee Watson – Director for Area D, RDCK

A historical review of how and why our remote communities and tree fruit crops are so geographically disbursed across the Basin.

The Kootenay lifestyle and character has been defined by the early industries that populated across the region.

As we witness the impacts of centralization of a global food system, the Kootenays are the perfect example of how we can combat the impacts while building a resilient and healthy future. (Ie: using the barriers as the opportunities.)

Aimee Watson grew up in a small Ontario town and moved out to British Columbia in 1997 after travelling Europe in her late teens. Aimee worked many years in retail before studying herbalism, nutrition and botany. After finishing her studies she moved onto the Fraser Common Farm Coop and became one of the field harvest managers. It did not take long before Aimee became very involved in the community, working with a variety of non-profit groups supporting the rights of small scale farmers trying to make a living in a large farm global food market. This offered opportunity for her to work with several MP’s and she developed a passion for community, good food and the political system. Aimee continues to be actively involved on a variety of boards, has been learning about the political system and discovering ways to develop a consensus within large groups. In 2004, Aimee fell in love with a beautiful little town and moved to Kaslo, BC, where for the first year she worked up to eight jobs. She established herself in the small community and was hired by North Kootenay Lake Community Services Society to implement a food forum for the region. After a year of hard work and research the Kaslo Food Security project was established and in 2009 the doors were opened for the first accredited community food center in Canada. After the completion of a successful project Aimee was graced with the birth of her son and took a year off to enjoy motherhood and commence studies at Ryerson University in the field of Food Security. While on maternity leave Aimee continued to work on projects concerning food security and with Director Shadrack – Electoral Area D. In 2011, Director Shadrack approached Aimee and asked if she would act as his Alternate Director for Area D. After assuming the role of Alternate Director, Aimee worked on a variety of files from highways, the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District, chair of the Advisory Planning Commission, to meat regulations and attending the national conference for municipalities (FCM). In 2014, Aimee was elected the Electoral Area Director for Area D and is the Chair of the RDCK Board of Directors.


Harmony Bjarnason – Project Manager, BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative

How will climate change affect agricultural operations in the Kootenays and what do we need to do today to ensure the sector remains resilient in the coming decades? Find out what the region’s climate will be like in 2050 and 2080 and hear what strategies local agriculture producers have identified to support the sector in adapting to hotter and drier summer conditions, increased risk of spring flooding and increased wildfire risk.

Harmony Bjarnason works with the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative on the Regional Adaptation Strategies program – a regional approach to evaluating the agriculture sector’s risks and opportunities in relation to climate change. She develops and delivers projects to support agricultural adaptation and build resilience to climate change in farming communities in BC. Previously, she worked in the department of Land and Food Systems at UBC with the Food and Resource Economics Group. She also operates a small hops farm in Kelowna.


Rob Avis – Engineer & Ecologist, Verge Permaculture/Adaptive Habitat

As cities and governments lead the country toward netzero energy/carbon buildings and transportation the embodied energy and carbon footprint of food is largely being ignored. Cities like Vancouver are rapidly discovering how reliant they are on external energy sources and are only recently considering risks associated with importing food from far away agricultural regions that are on the verge of water and nutrient collapse. In this talk we will discuss the global and regional macro trends and how Interior BC will once again need to be the bread basket of the province.

Rob Avis is an engineer & ecologist and is co-owner and operator of Adaptive Habitat, a leading edge property design firm for resilient homes, acreages, and farms and Verge Permaculture, a globally recognized award-winning education business. He has over 15 years of experience in project management, ecological design, and sustainable technologies. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.




Dr. Love-Ese Chile – Research Consultant, Grey to Green Sustainable Solutions

Agriculture and horticulture industries generate 1,200 tonnes of plastic waste per year, with almost 30 % coming from nets, clips, pots and trays. Plastic films generate about 80% of the agricultural plastic waste. As these non-biodegradable petroleum-based plastics are discarded after each crop harvest, they can become major environmental pollutants. Biodegradable mulch films have been available on the market for more than 15 years and deliver the same positive agronomical effects as conventional plastic mulches such as increasing yield, improving quality of crops, weed control, reduction of use of irrigation water and pesticides. They offer the potential for additional advantages at the end of the crop cycle because they can simply be left on the field and ploughed under. This presentation will explore how “bio-plastics” deteriorate in farm environments and their impact to soil health.


Two concepts are being increasingly explored by national bodies to aid in the shift to more sustainable production and economic activity.

The bioeconomy encompasses production of renewable biological resources and conversion of these resources and waste streams into value-added products. In the bioeconomy, fossil carbon is substituted for renewable carbon from biomass generated from agriculture, forestry and marine environments.

The circular economy is a restorative, regenerative model where resources are kept in the economy for as long as possible and the generation of waste is minimized. The core goal of the circular economy is to enhance the resource efficiency of processes and increase use of recycled materials to reduce the use of fossil carbon.

The circular bioeconomy is defined as the intersection of these two complementary models. In this workshop we will focus on topics such as bio-based products, cascading use, utilization of organic waste streams, resource-efficient value chains and organic and nutrient cycling.

Dr. Love-Ese Chile is a researcher and consultant at her company Grey to Green Sustainable Solutions. Love-Ese has more than seven years of experience researching both the creation and degradation of bio-derived and biodegradable plastics. Through her company, Grey to Green Sustainable Solutions, Love-Ese works with industry, government and community leaders to better understand the role of “bioplastics” within the circular bioeconomy and helps to guide the development of new technologies to support the implementation of these sustainable alternatives. Love-Ese enjoys engaging with her community and fosters a relationship between science and the public by presenting lectures and workshops on a variety of topics, from plastic to green technology.


Rachael Roussin – Coordinator, Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors

Isolation and feelings of being overwhelmed are common for producers in all sectors. This session will discuss the importance of farmers getting together to share experiences through activities such as farm tours, potlucks, workshops and other informal gatherings as a means to share experiences and create a community and a circle of support in the agricultural sector. This session will look at examples from across Canada that bring producers together and create an opportunity for participants to brainstorm other ways for the agriculture sector to connect in the Kootenay and Boundary region.

Rachael Roussin has over fifteen years’ experience coordinating environmental and agricultural programs and her technical background includes soil science, soil capability for agriculture, watershed management and climate change impacts for agriculture. Rachael is passionate about local, sustainable agriculture and is motivated to support farmers to achieve their soil health and water management goals. Rachael is an Environmental Farm Plan Advisor and holds a Masters’ degree in Land and Water Systems from the faculty of Land and Food at UBC. When Rachael isn’t visiting farms or creating the next “Kootenay Farmer Newsletter”, she can be found playing in her own garden, biking, hiking and powder skiing in Rossland BC, where she calls home.


Hosted By Greg McLaren

FOOD RECOVERY IN THE BASIN – Food Recovery Groups Dialogue and Sharing Session


Presentations by:

Russell Green Osborne – Ag. Consultant and Automation Specialist, Greenhall

Maria Verdicchio – Account Manager & Community Engagement, FoodMesh

Rob Avis – Engineer & Ecologist, Verge Permaculture/Adaptive Habitat

3 different ways of applying technology to leverage big changes in small/medium scale agriculture and regional food systems.

Russell Green Osborne has been building, testing and launching ag robot applications that utilize open source hardware and software since 2011 and helping clients integrate opensource software into the business for almost 15 years.




Maria Verdicchio works with FoodMesh, a start up that develops apps, services and programs to aid in food recovery and reduce food waste. As a shared value enterprise, FoodMesh has a blended bottom line, measuring the social, environmental and economic value of our work. Maria is interested in environmental protection and food justice which sparked her desire to tackle the problem of food waste. An experienced Account Manager with a long history of working in the food & beverage industry, Maria is responsible for building the bridge between the food industry and consumers. Maria’s goal is to improve the usability, ease of use, and pleasure in the interaction between FoodMesh and our customers. At home Maria strives for zero waste, and also practices Shinrin yoku – otherwise known as forest bathing.


Takota Coen – Coen Farm

Farmers are transitioning to a regenerative agricultural paradigm in order to repair damaged ecosystems and meet shifting demands from consumers in the city.. However many farmers are struggling with the complexity of this task. In this case study presentation of his family farm, Takota Coen will introduce a process and share free tools that will help you to overcome this complexity and start building a regenerative farm that can thrive in the Century of Change.

Takota Coen is a 2nd generation organic farmer who was born, raised, and continues to help steward Coen Farm an award winning, and thriving 250 acre diversified farm in Central Alberta that raises milk fed pork, grass fed beef, free range eggs, and a variety of forest garden berries and tea. In addition to farming, Takota works with landowners across Canada who feel overwhelmed with the complexity of designing and managing land in a way that is ecologically regenerative, financially sustainable, functionally resilient. 


Ari Derfel – General Manager, Kootenay Coop

An exploration on how we connect on an intimate, personal level with Food Policy and why it is so awesome and exciting. We will break down the often vague and opaque phrase, “Food Policy” into concreate, easy to understand terms. We see how much food policy affects all of us on a daily level and how it can help and hinder building a robust regional food economy.

Ari Derfel is the General Manager of the Kootenay Co-op, the largest, member-owned cooperative grocery in Canada, located in Nelson, British Columbia. Over the span of his 25-year career, Ari has been an entrepreneur, restaurateur, executive coach, strategic consultant, food systems advocate, mountain guide & public speaker. His academic career spans the University of Wisconsin, Harvard, Georgetown, UCLA & Cambridge University in England. He is the co-founder of the award-winning Gather restaurant in Berkeley, known for its outstanding cuisine, sustainable food and beverage programs, design, and financing strategies. The NY Times called Gather, “a Michael Pollan book come to life” and Esquire Magazine named Gather one of the Best New Restaurants in the US in 2010. Ari also co-founded Back to Earth in 2001, the first exclusively organic catering and event production company in the world. Ari currently serves as the President of the Central Kootenay Food Policy Council (CKFPC). The purpose of the Council is to be the formal bridge between local government and the many civil society and industry organizations working on food systems in the region, from hunger and food access to farming and waste management. He also serves on the Board of Community Foods Market, the first full service-grocery in urban West Oakland, California in nearly a quarter century. He is also the former Executive Director of Slow Money, a national organization, with chapters across the US and abroad, focused on catalyzing investment in Local Food Systems. Ari is also internationally known for his work on waste and consumerism. In 2007, as a personal meditation, he saved every single piece of trash and recycling he created over the course of the entire year. When he was done, he commissioned an artist to turn it all into a piece of art. His efforts were featured in numerous print, television, web and radio media worldwide. 


Darcy Smith – BC Land Matching Program Manager, Young Agrarians

Are you thinking about how to transfer the farm to the next generation? Transition planning is a complex process full of business planning, farm financials, tax issues, and many more decisions to be made – but it all starts with a conversation. Join BC Land Matching Program Manager Darcy Smith of Young Agrarians and her fellow Land Matchers to explore this first conversation: how to ask questions, put it all on the table, and build a strong relationship that will become the foundation of a solid transition plan. This workshop is for established farmers who are thinking about transition, and for the next generation of farmers, and for both family farm scenarios and alternative/non-family succession models.

Darcy Smith is the B.C. Land Program Manager & Land Matcher – Metro Vancouver & Fraser Valley (youngagrarians.org/land). As BC’s first Land Matcher, she’s spent the last three years growing the BC Land Matching Program. As a Land Matcher, she’s worked with many farmer-landowners who want to see their land farmed into the future, helping them realize their vision and develop strong agreements to help the next generation of farmers get on the land. In addition to her role with Young Agrarians, Darcy edits the BC Organic Grower, a quarterly magazine dedicated to showcasing organic farming across B.C.


During the farmer slideshows, you will hear from 4-5 farms in the area for 10 minutes each on farm fails, farm hacks, or funny stories.A great way to share and connect at the end of the day.

A sneak preview of some of who you’ll hear from:

  • Coming Soon!


Sara Dent – Executive Director, Young Agrarians

We are so excited for the 2019 Columbia Basin Young Agrarians Mixer! Come learn about the Young Agrarians program and meet other new and young farmers in the region. Sara will present on the Young Agrarians program, and lead an introduction circle. These circles are at the heart of the Young Agrarians community growth model. We’ll learn who is in the room and what types of farming and food systems work people are doing. This facilitated social networking allows for new conversations and friendships to emerge. Whatever age you are, please join us!

Sara Dent is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Young Agrarians, a program of Agrarians Foundation. Sara works with multiple stakeholders to support the next generation of new and ecological farmers in Canada through supports services and programs. Young Agrarians was born in 2012 and evolved as a collaborative network strategy. At the heart of the work is a community engagement framework that is by and for farmers. Nationally, Young Agrarians aggregates resources and opportunities online and coordinates events on and off farm. In B.C. Young Agrarians facilitates business mentorships and land matching. Through a partnership with Organic Alberta, Young Agrarians runs an on-farm apprenticeship program in Alberta. For more information visit: youngagrarians.org


Takota Coen – Coen Farm

Rob Avis – Engineer & Ecologist, Verge Permaculture/Adaptive Habitat

In this presentation and facilitated discussion, Takota Coen and Rob Avis will make a case for the high costs of poor business and share simple principles that can help guide new and experienced farmers to design and manage businesses that are ecologically regenerative, financially sustainable, and actually enjoyable.


Jo Tobias – Regenerative Soils Consultant, Soil FoodWeb Advisor, RootShoot Soils

This session will explore the ecosystem services found in soil such as nutrient cycling & decomposition – how they work, why they are essential, and how farmers can support these processes.

We will examine the interrelationship between the plant’s root with the surrounding soil biology as well as discuss management solutions to common soil quality problems.

The goal for this session is to advance the farmer’s understanding of how they can grow healthier crops by supporting the services that soils provide.

Jo Tobias is a Regenerative Soils Consultant and founder of RootShoot Soils, a consulting service based in Vancouver, BC, and one of the formally recognized soil food web labs in Canada. Jo works directly with farmers by helping them understand how they can play a role in restoring their soil’s biological system. As a soil food web advisor, Jo recognizes the importance of integrating below- and above-ground biodiversity to regenerate degraded landscapes. She combines soil management advise with education and analysis of the soil’s biology using microscopy. She has taught farmers how to make bio-active compost to reduce their use of chemical inputs. Jo maximizes her value to get clients through curious exploration using the scientific method. Follow her most recent microbial pursuits at https://www.facebook.com/rootshootsoils/


Tessa Wetherill – Central / North Okanagan Land Matcher, Young Agrarians

Tessa will be sharing some simple exercises and techniques for a balanced body, clear mind and strong spirit. Dynamic and powerful tools for dealing with the pressures, tension and stresses of our times and chosen careers. In other words, how not to turn into a crippled, grumpy wreck of a farmer.

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 3.31.14 PMTessa Wetherill has been farming full-time and with all her heart for 11 years, first in an urban context in Vancouver and for the last 5 years in the North Okanagan. This season she is growing pure joy in the form of cut flowers on unceded Syilx territory in Vernon, B.C. She loves all the things that grow; plants, people, and communities and what really lights her up are relationships and collaborations that form strong, diverse human ecosystems. She is so excited to step into the new role of Land Matcher Okanagan with the Young Agrarians and support the growth of this vital network.


Hailey Troock – Columbia Basin Land Matcher, Young Agrarians

Ashlee Brillert – Metro Van / Fraser Valley Land Matcher, Young Agrarians

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 3.34.41 PMHailey spends her time connecting farmers, landowners, and allies in the region. Hailey has a professional background in public policy, bilateral negotiation, project administration and business support and has enjoyed using these skills within the B.C. Land Matching Program to help local communities promote and strengthen sustainable and sovereign local food systems.




Michalina Hunter – Community Manager, Young Agrarians, Green Bee Honey

In this workshop, we will dive into the inner workings of Facebook, Instagram, and e-newsletters to grow your community and customer base. We will cover the basics of setting up these accounts for success, as well as advanced tips and tricks to expand your reach such as hashtags, stories, tagging, and events. You will learn how to glean information about your followers from analytics, so you can tailor your content to best reach and engage them. Most importantly, you will learn how to manage these things efficiently so they don’t take over your life!
df33650f931c79e5e0db320a411ae044Michalina co-owns and operates Green Bee Honey with her partner, Darwyn, in Squamish. Now in their seventh year of beekeeping and sharing about it online to more than 20,000 people, they’ve learned some tips and tricks that other folks can use to grow their community around their farming business. They maintain around 50 hives on leased land, sell honey and queen bees, and participate in the UBC hygienic bee breeding program. Michalina is also the Young Agrarians communications manager, and has grown their social platforms by almost 20% since December, 2018. She enjoys using the power of digital marketing to support healthy people and a healthy planet. She previously earned a Bachelor’s of Arts & Science degree in environmental education from Quest University, and is a past President of the Squamish Climate Action Network, Sea to Sky Beekeepers Club, and a co-founder of the Squamish Food Policy Council.


Rob Avis – Engineer & Ecologist, Verge Permaculture/Adaptive Habitat

Takota Coen – Coen Farm

Jo Tobias – Regenerative Soils Consultant, Soil FoodWeb Advisor, RootShoot Soils


The 2019 Columbia Basin Mixer is coordinated by Damon Chouinard, who has been growing food in the Slocan Valley for the past decade. As a farmer and founding member of Kootenay Food (WKPC), Damon brings a passion for event production, education, and food security to his role with Young Agrarians.

The 2019 Columbia Basin Mixer is part of a three-day Basin Food Summit put on by the Columbia Basin Trust to cultivate opportunities for producers, processors and food buyers, while creating space and programming for growth, networking, collaboration, and the celebration of local foods. The summit brings together three separate events for three distinct days of programming.  Learn more at basinfood.ca

Columbia basin Mixer, rossland, bc, kootenays


Thank you to our generous sponsors! These businesses make the Mixer possible, and we are endlessly grateful for their support. Check them out!

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Rancho Vignola

Kootenay Co-op

The Kootenay Bakery Cafe

Oso Negro Coffee

Wild Peach Preserves


The Columbia Basin Mixer is funded by the Columbia Basin Trust. Thank you CBT!

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