On February 2nd, following a Farm Business Planning 101 Workshop, several dozen community members of all ages came together at Vallican Whole Community Center to enjoy a community potluck and farmer slideshow. The potluck featured many amazing dishes provided by community members, including a whole roast turkey and root vegetables from Real Good Food and some local accompaniments from Kootenay Food.
The event kicked off with an intro circle, providing an opportunity for everyone in the group to share where they’re coming from and if they’re in need of anything or have something they can offer to the farming community. After the intro circle, everyone dished up and enjoyed some friendly conversation before the farmer slideshows got going.
The presentation portion of the evening was to provide an opportunity and space for local farmers to share some stories and images pertaining to their farm or business. The farmers who shared slideshows represented a demographically diverse group and a range of experience levels and missions.
The slideshows started off with Dayna Fidler from the West Kootenay Permaculture Co-op and Kootenay Food. She went over the activities of the Co-op and its membership, offering information on current programming like their sold-out garlic processing workshop that took place only a few days later. Young Agrarians had the very fun opportunity to join Dayna and the outstanding team at Press Fest last fall to see the Kootenay Mobile Press in action and boxes upon boxes of fresh, local juice provided to the community by volunteers.
The second farmer to speak was Emma Sowiak from Bent Plow Farm in Blewett. Emma showed the group the short history of their farm in images. It was amazing to see the transformation of their land from a boulder-filled wooded area to a fertile and productive farm. Emma and her partner Scott moved from Ontario only a few years ago to pursue their farm dream in the Kootenays and are members of the Kootenay Organic Growers Society. You can learn more about their experience as they head into their fifth season of farming in this post from the Farm the Basin Farmer blog series.
Nikola Barsoum grows medicinal herbs on a shared piece of land in Meadow Creek. Nikola studied the Community Herbalist Program at Pacific Rim College in Victoria and is driven by growing and gathering medicinal herbs to nourish and support the health of her community. Last summer, Nikola was one of eight local farmers who invited Young Agrarians onto their farm to share their stories. You can view the video featuring Nikola and other local farmers from the north end of Kootenay Lake here. Her business, Half Moon Herbals, has a popular herb CSA that is accepting new members.
Marvin Work from Dutch Girl Peonies, who also sits on the Board of the Kootenay Local Agricultural Society, was next to present. Marvin hosted a YA event last fall on his farm called Tool School where he allowed local farmers and friends to demo various tools available through the KLAS Tool Library. Marvin showed the group images of his beautiful property in Beasley, explained what the Kootenay Mountain Grown certification is about and finished off with information and an open invitation to the National Peony Festival taking place in Castlegar in June.
Jon Scott, the proprietor of Chuckleberry Community Farm and Retreat Center, also in Beasley, brought a group of farmers to participate in the potluck and slideshow. Jon spoke to the group about the whys and whats of Chuckleberry, a Kootenay Co-op True Local supplier, including their geothermally heated earthship where they grow microgreens all year long. Chuckleberry’s gardens are in 30-inch-high insulated raised beds and are irrigated by a drip system that resources catchment water from a green roof and solar panel hillside using a solar-powered pump. Find out what else they grow using this system in the Central Kootenay Farm and Food Directory.
Thank you to everyone who came out to support this event and brought dishes to share!