What a pleasure to meet new farmers, elder farmers, food lovers and friends at Elderberry Grove in Salmon Arm, BC, for our first Land Social of the season, featuring a farm tour, elderberry product trials and gourmet snacks! Yesterday, July 10th was a joy!
46 folks gathered in pockets of shade to kick off the farm tour with a bit of background on Jed and Louise’s passion for growing and producing medicinal elderberry syrups, how they started out leasing family land and how they have expanded over the last 3 years to add 2 more large acreages to their land base with the support of the B.C. Land Matching Program. They stressed the importance of having a secure agreement in place before investing in perennial crops on leased land.
As we carried on through the field, we learned the history of approximately 28 elderberry varieties Jed and Louise are experimenting with growing for commercial production. They generously shared their selection methods and creative ways that they have adapted to growing in different soil type and qualities. Much of the research on elderberry production comes out of the University of Missouri and being the most northern commercial elderberry farm in North America, they are constantly having to adapt protocols, looking to innovate and experiment with different pruning methods to maximize the yield and encourage healthy plants.
We had a look at several of the specialized tools that Jed has built, including a berry de-stemmer and a nutrient sprayer. The wood chip mulch layer was an old manure spreader which he Macgyvered up to be PTO-driven and includes a treadmill, generator and several old broom handles. All of these tools would have cost at least $14,000 each and we all loved seeing what could be done with a bit of ingenuity and skill for much, much less money.
Following the farm tour, we had the opportunity to circle up and introduce ourselves. Everyone shared a little bit about themselves and their interest in growing. Most of the group was visiting from nearby communities in Salmon Arm and the North Okanagan, though a few people joined us from as far away as Kamloops and Kelowna. Thanks for making the journey!
We then enjoyed some delicious snacks from Crudité and Co. accompanied by sparkling water with Elderberry syrups, while we sat on picnic blankets in the grass and made new friends! Thank you everyone for making this such a special day.
We can’t wait to see you again at our next Okanagan Land Social:
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 Tessa at email@example.com if you’re in the Okanagan 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 the Okanagan by the Province of British Columbia, with support from Patagonia.