Market News

The ALR needs you!

Have you heard people talking about the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) recently? Did you know the provincial government has assembled a committee to hear feedback from the public? Do you know that if you’re a farmers market shopper, it has a direct impact on you?

The ALR is significantly important to local food production in British Columbia. Almost all Vancouver Farmers Markets farmers are growing food on ALR land. The future of farmers markets rests on a strong ALR as well since many new and emerging farmers will need to be able to access viable farmland in order to grow food for us city folk.

Deadline for feedback is April 30, 2018. We would like to encourage you to join us and let the committee know why the ALR is important to you!

Still not sure what to say?

We came across this backgrounder from Dr. Art Bomke recently (thanks SPEC!) and hope it helps you figure out what issues you are particularly concerned about and how you can add your voice to the thousands of British Columbians who are standing up for local food and agriculture.

ALR/ALC Consultation: Possible talking points

Dr. Art Bomke

April 2018

Background:

British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserves (ALR) serve to preserve and protect good quality agricultural land in the provincial interest of current and future citizens. The Provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is an independent administrative tribunal dedicated to preserving agricultural land and encouraging farming in British Columbia. Despite legislative changes over the 45 years since the establishment of the ALR/ALC this is arguably the most effective system for protecting agricultural land in North America.

The current government of BC has established an independent committee to lead a public engagement process and provide recommendations to the government for our ideas on how to revitalize the ALR and the ALC. Start your participation by filling out this survey or sending a letter to ALR_ALCRevitalization@gov.bc.ca or to

Minister’s Advisory Committee
Revitalization of ALR and ALC
C/o Ministry of Agriculture
PO Box 9120
Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria BC V8W 9B4

The deadline for submissions is April 30. Some possible talking points include the following, but please feel free to focus on specific issues that you feel strongly about and to put forward your own opinions.

Provincial interest:

Less than 5% of the land area of BC is capable of food production and given the looming pressures of climate change and global population growth, the security and resilience of our provincial food system depends on retaining as much of our agricultural land as possible. The ALR is science-based and is firmly grounded in our understanding of soils, climate and topography determinants of the land’s capability to support food production.

The biggest threat to the integrity of the ALR is the cumulative impact of public decisions regarding infrastructure development, as exemplified by the loss of high capability land to the Site C Dam, transportation projects and port development. Clearly, a strong mandate and voice are needed to advocate for the retention of farmland and this is most effectively delivered by a central body like the ALC, operating with a province-wide perspective.

Recommendations:

  1. Return to a uniform, BC wide process of decision making by the Provincial ALC.
  2. Eliminate the two-zone system that currently treats land use decisions in southwestern BC differently from the rest of the province.
  3. Eliminate the inefficient regional panels from the decision-making process.
  4. Empower the ALC to defend farmland in assessment of the impacts of major projects.

Lower Mainland Problems:

SPEC is acutely aware of critical land use issues on both sides of the ALR boundary in our local region. “Out of control” real estate prices threaten our ability to house and feed ourselves. Specific legislative or regulative changes in the Vancouver region are required to:

  1. Increase the incentive for ALR land owners to commit to sustainable farming on their properties, including reasonable security of tenure.
  2. Provide better support for small scale farmers, especially new entrants to farming, including access to more information and expert advice to help solve site-specific management challenges and to reassure landowners that their land is being cared for in an environmentally responsible manner.
  3. Set a maximum house size and non-farm footprint to reduce the impact of megahouse estates on productive farmland.
  4. Clarify and strengthen the regulations, monitoring and enforcement of dumping materials on farmland.

Encouraging Farming (Social Sustainability):

Encouraging farming has been one of the key directives of the ALC since its inception, however some of the tools used in the early days of the ALR are no longer affordable or effective. Working within budgetary constraints and today’s land ownership patterns, the BC and local governments should:

  1. Reward land owners who commit to sustainable farming and create opportunities for new entrants. Benefits would include considerations regarding taxation and participation in government cost sharing for farm improvements identified through environmental farm planning.
  2. Support a Cooperative Advisory Network of BCMAF, universities, Agriculture Canada, private sector, farmers and NGOs to provide more site-specific advice on water and soil management, crop protection, food safety and other farm management issues.

Benefits of diversity:

An ecological principle is that ecosystem stability benefits from diversity. This applies to agro-ecosystems and includes the benefits of diverse people and their land resources. The use of agricultural capability to classify agricultural land is the basis for the delineation of the ALRs and while the uniformity of the land is a prerequisite for large scale, industrial agriculture, this focus has devalued the benefits of a diverse land base enabling farmers to creatively produce a range of suitable products.  It also fell short in recognizing the value of some lands to provide “non-farmed” food and medicinal products. In this light, we suggest:

  1. Lands with capability to produce “non-farmed” products be identified and given the protection afforded to high capability farmland.
  2. Recognition be given to First Nations’ need for land for culturally appropriate products and potential economic activity that could arise.
  3. The pool of new entrants to farming will draw from non-traditional sources including urbanites, First Nations, LGBTQ and youth in general and their potential contributions to the diversity and resilience of BC agriculture should be recognized and valued as we encourage new entrants in agroecosystems.


Volunteer of The Year: Alice Chan

If you’re a regular shopper at Hastings Park, Main St Station or Downtown Farmers Markets, you have likely met our superstar volunteer, Alice Chan. Last year Alice generously volunteered over 100 hours of her time at the Vancouver Farmers Markets! Her hard work and dedication was recognized this year that the provincial BC Association of Farmers Markets Market Awards, naming Alice the Volunteer of the Year! When Alice is at the market, you can find her handing out samples, covering vendor breaks or helping out VFM staff. She’s become an indispensable part of our volunteer team and we feel lucky to have her at the markets.

What drew you to volunteer with the Vancouver Farmers Markets?

I wanted to do something meaningful in my recent retirement & had actually never been to a Vancouver Farmers Market!

What’s your favourite part about volunteering at the markets?

Socializing with the farmers, vendors, & the VFM staff!  And, of course being able to shop!

You’ve volunteered at a number of our markets, which one is your favourite and why? 

Main Street is still my favourite because of its location & the vibe.

When you’re not volunteering at VFM, where can we find you?

Wildlife Rescue (volunteering), at the gym & the pool (exercising), out with friends eating, & travelling!

Alice setting up her favourite market, Main St Station

Are you interested in volunteering at VFM?  Visit our volunteer page or email volunteer@eatlocal.org for more information!


Roman-style Broccoli Pizza with Pasta Boy Peter

 

Ciao Bellos & Bellas!

I’m honoured to be contributing a recipe to Van Markets where I used to sell my Pasta and where I met so many future students of my Italian Cooking Classes at Pasta Boy Peter.

It is that time of year where the Brassicas are coming to the markets. I love broccoli, broccolini and rapini as I grew up eating them at my Italian immigrant family’s table. Here is a simple recipe idea for you to try that my Mom used to make and that you will see on many Italian restaurant menus. I write recipes the way nona’s (Italian Grandmothers) and chef’s talk about food. I hope you enjoy, try it & let me know what you think.


I’ll be teaching Roman Pizza, Mozzarella, Pasta and Sourdough Bread making coming up in May & June and broccoli, whether as a topping on pizza with parmeseano or as a side dish, finished with lemon zest and juice, is amazing with all of those things.

Roman-style Broccoli Pizza

by Peter Ciuffa

Method:

Trim and wash your broccoli. Don’t throw out the stems of broccoli either. Trim the stems into sticks after peeling the outside. Blanche your broccoli in lightly salted water (or rapini, brocolini etc.)

Pre-heat a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan on medium high heat. When the pan has heated add a good amount of olive oil (5 to 6 tbsp. The oil is amazing to soak up with bread, trust me!) Let that heat up. Salt the olive oil with two good pinches and add sliced garlic, plus a few pinches of chilli flakes or pepperoncini!

Drain the broccoli (they should be tender but still bright green) and put them in the hot pan. Season with another small pinch of salt. Cook them down until they start to break apart and slightly stick.  Put them in a bowl, finish them with a squeeze of lemon juice, some lemon zest and another dash of olive oil. Taste for seasoning then serve!

 

If you like my recipes please follow along on Instagram @pastaboypeter, or check out my blog and website. Better yet, take a class! Until next time enjoy spring and remember to eat local & always #eatwiththoseyoulove Ciao!

 


Q & A with Hastings Park Egg Farmers

Ossome Acres, Chilliwack

A fifth generation farm in Chilliwack, Ossome Acres has been farmed by Aaron and Noella Oss for the last 8 years. Along with their fresh, organic produce, Aaron and Noella have recently increased their flock of laying hens to produce enough high-quality certified organic free-range eggs to sell at the market. Shoppers can find them weekly at Hastings Park until April 29.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about how your hens are kept at the farm?

A: Last year we converted an old calf barn into the chicken coop. The inspector said that it is big enough for 250 chickens and we have less than half of that. We also added two large fenced in runs for them to have free range access all day long. Since we also grow certified vegetables on the farm they also get some of our vegetable seconds, to give them a well rounded diet. Check out this video of our chickens in the run!

Q: Your farm is certified organic, can you tell us a bit about what the means for an egg farmer?

A: To be a Certified Organic Egg Farmer we have to be part of a Certifying organization like BCARA and provide them with documentation about our operations so that they can verify that we are following Organic standards. An inspector is sent to our farm each year. They verify that the chickens are from Certified Organic parents, receiving certified feed and their living conditions are spacious.

Rockweld Chicken, Abbotford

Tim and Flo Rempel have been farming chickens for over 18 years at their family-run farm in Abbostford. Rockweld Farm brings fresh, SPCA Certified eggs every Sunday to Hastings Park.

Q: Your farm is SPCA Certified, can you tell us a bit about how your hens are kept at the farm? Why did you decide to become Certified?

A: All our birds are free to roam in our barns with approximately twice the floor space, feed and water space per birds. All our birds are fed certified organic feed. The SPCA Certification allows the consumers to be confident we uphold our ethical animal treatment.

Q: How many people are involved with your operation?

A: All our family is involved in the farm full time, Tim, Flow, Aaron, Stephanie, Tim Jr., Julie and Jean (not family). We pride ourself on providing local, healthy ethical chicken meat and eggs to you the consumer! Our chicken pot pies are on the way!

Cedar Isle, Agassiz

Cedar Isle Farm is a 94-acre certified organic farm located on an island near Agassiz in the Eastern Fraser Valley. It has a small-scale free-range flock and has been producing high quality certified organic eggs for many years. Find them every other week at Hastings Park.

Q: What chicken breed(s) are your egg-laying hens?

A: Two batches are rotated; one consists of standard commercial brown layers, the other is made up of over a dozen heritage breeds.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about how your hens are kept at the farm? 

A: The hens are housed with several roosters in an old barn/shed, where they go outside every morning into a fenced enclosure. In the afternoon, they are let out of the enclosure into a large fenced pasture and, if conditions allow, all around the farmyard and fields. They return to the barn/shed by themselves to roost at night.

Q: Your farm is certified organic, can you tell us a bit about what the means for an egg farmer?

A: As the farm is organic, no rat poison is used; instead, a cadre of veteran barn cats and resident barn owls keep the rodent population under control. The birds are fed certified organic feed — half is commercial layer mash purchased from Canadian Organic Feeds and half is home-grown organic grains and screenings (a by-product of the farm’s organic grain CSA program). Since they range widely, the hens also eat significant amounts of grass and clover, worms, insects and whatever edible goodies they scratch up in the pastures. Home-grown organic straw serves as their bedding material.  These are very happy hens!

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your operation?

A: One of the biggest challenges is managing the scarcity of the eggs.  Since this is a small operation, there are never enough to go around, so Yoshi, Diane, Jim and the young people request that people savour every single delicious egg

Free range heritage hens at Cedar Isle Farm


Your Guide to a Locally-Sourced Seder Plate

Pesach Sameach!

Come by the Nat Bailey Farmers Market to get some fresh ingredients for a locally-sourced Seder Plate in time for your second seder this Saturday night!

  • For your Beitzah: Pick up some organic eggs from Earth Apple Farm, Rockweld Farm or The Farmhouse.
  • For your Charoset: Visit Klippers Organic Growers, Golden West Farms, or Harvey’s Orchards to choose some apples.
  • For your Maror: Stop by Lowland Herb Farm’s stall to get some freshly dug horseradish from Farmer Boni!
  • For your Karpas: Parsley isn’t quite in season yet, however our farmers have a couple of other options – Cropthorne Farm has a variety of leafy greens and Rondriso Farms has potatoes.
  • For your Zeroa: You can get chicken from Goldwing, Rockweld Farm or K&M Farms!

Additionally, to brighten up your dinner table you can also grab some daffodils from Bryan and Agnes Warmerdam Specialty Daffodils or some tulips from Warmerdam Flowers. We hope you have a lovely holiday with your friends and family!

Not Jewish and interested in the significance of the seder plate for Passover? Visit: https://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1998/jewish/The-Seder-Plate.htm