This weekend something special is coming to the Peace Region. On September 23, the Peace River Organic Producers Association and Young Agrarians will be hosting their first ever Peace River Farmer Mixer.
The event will include presentations focusing in on the topic of “Sharing Your Farm’s Story” and networking at the Goodfare Hall beginning at 9:30 with farm tours to follow.
According to event organizer Donovan Kitt, “We picked those speakers because we wanted to have topics that are relevant to everyone whether you’ve been in the business for a while or you are just considering getting into farming or market gardening. These speakers will have something to offer. They will teach on promoting yourself and telling your story— and in this day and age that is pretty essential to set yourself apart from the competition.”
The event will include presentations by both Kevin Kossowan and Ian James Griebel. According to Kitt, Kossowan is a food-focused documentary filmmaker, storyteller and social media guru who will be presenting on marketing tools and methods to promote your farm operation. Griebel—who now operates Red Tail Farms near Castor, Alberta—moved to the city after high school with no plans to return. A few years later he’s back and making a living off the farm. His presentation will be speaking to succession planning and how to turn farming into a full time job.
The Peace Region offers up it’s fare share of challenges for producers and the Peace River Farmer Mixer is trying to give farmers insight on how to make their operation successful. “I think you really have to be creative to make it in the Peace,” says Kitt, “Your growing season is so short but your day is so long. With your growing season there is such a range, so you have to be smart about it, you have to be creative and you always have to try new things.”
Following presentations, the event will move into a roundtable discussion with opportunities for networking and brainstorming. “Everyone can get something out of this. Our audience is people who are just getting into farming but we also want to have some seasoned vets, knowledgeable old farmers who can be there to share their knowledge and pass it on,” explains Kitt. Networking and knowledge sharing is essential for farmers particularly those just getting started. Kitt stresses, “You don’t want to have to re-invent the wheel, the Peace Region has its climactic challenges and there aren’t a ton of markets. It’s good to talk to people who are going through the same challenges and the same growing seasons to find out what has worked for them, both their successes and failures so you aren’t wasting your efforts.”
Participants will also have the opportunity to go on two farm tours where they will receive first hand examples of farmers finding creative strategies to be successful in the Peace. The tours will give two unique perspectives on farming with the first on Donovan Kitt’s small mixed operation farm The Homestead and the second taking place at Jerry Kitt’s Organic Livestock operation First Nature Farms.
Kitt acknowledges the fact that the sheer size of the Peace Region can pose obstacles for networking in the region. “It’s a huge region physically, but people still tend to get together. You know, if you have an event like this and it’s four hours away then it’s still worth your while to go. You have your neighbours, and then you have your peers—to find people who are doing similar things, things that you are interested in, sometimes you have to travel.”
Kitt has high hopes for a community of young farmers growing together here in the Peace Region. He explained, “a big reason we organized this event is to connect with young farmers and new farmers emerging in the peace. We are really hoping to form a network going forward so we can host more events like this in the future.”