On Wednesday August 25, the Kersley Farmers Institute welcomed 44 people to enjoy a day full of farm tours at three host farms, Dunlevy Ranch, Rocky Point Ranch, and North Star Farm House. Over the course of the day, we saw diverse farming ventures and agribusinesses, networked, and shared ideas about farming in the North Cariboo.
The farm tours and discussions focused on the value of diversification in agriculture and different ways to diversify a farm. With all the weather and market challenges any one farm can face, incorporating other avenues of income for a farm and diversifying your products, practices, market, etc. can aid in overcoming these challenges. Our three destinations all incorporated aspects of livestock, vegetable, grain and/or mixed farming!
Our first stop was Dunlevy Ranch in Soda Creek. The ranch was purchased by the Kaufman family in 1962. They primarily grew potatoes and later transitioned into cattle. The ranch runs cow/calf pairs and backgrounds cattle over winter. Through raising cattle and growing feed, silage corn is a main feed source for their cattle in the winter feed program. They thought, if they could grow cow corn, why not sweet corn?! In 1982 the family introduced their Soda Creek Sweet Corn and vegetable garden U-pick.
The Dunlevy Ranch and Soda Creek Sweet Corn is a third generation family farm that diversified their operations from vegetable production, to livestock and then integrated back vegetable gardens and u-pick options.
Next was lunch, an amazing three course meal prepared by the Fort Alexandria Cafe. We enjoyed homemade lasagna and Caesar salad with garlic bread, followed by chocolate or carrot cake for dessert – it was incredible! A huge thank you to Sonoran Resource Management and Maeford Place Assisted Living Residence in Quesnel for funding our delicious meal. If you are on highway 97, traveling between Quesnel and Williams Lake, be sure to pop in for an amazing meal.
Following lunch we visited Rocky Point Ranch – one of the most historic ranches in the North Cariboo. Today, organic wheat production is their main crop. Their grain is sold to a granary in Armstrong for human consumption. In previous years the wheat was harvested as silage and sold as cattle feed in Cache Creek. As an organic farm, Rocky Point Ranch works hard to navigate weeds and fertility in their wheat crop. Tillage is their main weed management tool, and poultry manure is incorporated into their fertility program. Poultry manure is an excellent source of nutrients for plant growth and fertility.
A cover crop consisting of oats, turnip, clover and radishes is also used for soil fertility and increasing organic matter. Diversity through management practices has aided in the harvest success at Rocky Point Ranch.
The final farm destination on our tour was North Star Farm. This mixed farm operation incorporates many different elements of diversity. A market garden, greenhouses, and various types of livestock (registered Dexter cattle, laying hens, turkeys, broilers, and hogs) allowing for different market avenues and customer bases. Bedding plants and veg are grown and sold at the farmers market early in the season then returning later in the season with garlic. The registered Dexter cattle have the market potential to be sold to prospective cattle producers, farmers and ranchers. The seasonal poultry are harvested at a local facility and marketed to customers.
Livestock manure and compost are applied to the garden beds for soil fertility and crop nutrients. There are many elements at North Star Farm that demonstrate the benefits of diversifying a farm, in whatever capacity you can achieve!
Farm tours like this are amazing for our agriculture community. To be able to to share ideas, see what people are doing, network and meet new people – this support of farmers is so important.
Thank you to the Kersley Farmers Institute for coordinating the event! The event was sponsored through the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Program with the Ministry of Agriculture. We love getting to attend farm events happening in our communities!
GOT LAND? WANT LAND?
Through the B.C. Land Matching Program, Young Agrarians offers support to farmers looking for land for their farm business, and landholders looking for farmers to farm their land. We’ve made more than 146 matches on over 6,000 acres to date! Reach out to Land Matcher Morgan if you’re in Central & Northern BC and looking for land, or have land you’d like to share with a farmer, or check out the program page to find your regional Land Matcher.
The B.C. Land Matching Program is funded in Central & Northern B.C. by the Province of British Columbia, with support from Patagonia.