Flavio Nienow photo                                Debbie Evans, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s agriculture coordinator, moved from Salmon Arm for her new position, which started on Nov. 1, 2017.

Flavio Nienow photo Debbie Evans, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s agriculture coordinator, moved from Salmon Arm for her new position, which started on Nov. 1, 2017.

Climate change could help producers in northern B.C.

Agriculture coordinator brings excitement and vision to the region

  • Dec. 4, 2017 1:30 a.m.

Although climate change is expected to cause several environmental threats around the world, the warmer climate could actually bring opportunities to northern B.C. producers.

“As climate change happens, our growing period is changing, so there are opportunities in looking at what we could be producing here,” explained Debbie Evans, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s (RDBN) new agriculture coordinator.

READ MORE: Challenges of producers in northern B.C.

“Up in Smithers, there are a lot of people growing hardneck garlic. If you go to any of the specialty garlic places you will see the softneck garlic, which doesn’t grow here. But as we get into our climate change, there is a potential that it [softneck garlic] could start growing here. So you could potentially have more value added products that you could put in here.”

“That’s the exciting part of this position,” she added. “[To think about] where can we start opening up the niche markets.”

Evan adds that having the Port of Prince Rupert in close proximity makes the RDBN’s location ideal for exporting products.

Evans moved from Salmon Arm for her new position, which started on Nov. 1, 2017. The position is a two-year pilot project funded by a partnership between Northern Development Initiative Trust and the RDBN.

She said the most important part of her job is to build relations with local producers.

“A big part of my job is just getting out and meeting people,” she said. “I want producers from east to west to start interacting more – [so they can realize that] it’s not us against them, and we can start looking at it [agriculture in the region] as a whole.”

The RDBN currently has 840 farms operating within its boundaries. The majority of these farms do not have full-time employees, but are instead small-scale, family-run operations employing temporary or contract workers.

The need for a regional coordinator was identified during an agriculture forum hosted by the RDBN in 2016. According to the RDBN, small-scale producers and new farmers continue to express a desire for information about the services and supports that are available to them.

Potential for agroforestry in the region

Debbie Evans, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s (RDBN) new agriculture coordinator, says she sees great potential for agroforestry in the region.

With the growth of the wood pellet industry, Evans says local cattle producers have been struggling to find wood shavings for livestock bedding.

Wood shavings are important because they keep cows cleaner.

“If cows have too much manure on their bodies, the plants [slaughterhouses] don’t want to take them because that’s a potential E. coli contamination,” she explained. “If they’re too dirty, the plants will say, ‘We’re not processing your cattle.’”

“So one of the things I’m looking at is how can we maybe start building our own [wood shavings],” she said. “I’m looking at the potential of growing agroforestry here.”

Agroforestry is a land management approach that purposefully integrates the growing of trees with crops or livestock. This integration can involve deliberately retaining or adding trees or shrubs into agriculture production systems, or deliberately adding or enhancing crops or livestock in forest production systems.

Supporting safe relocation of livestock

Another important part of the agriculture coordinator’s job prescription is teaming up with Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) emergency services staff during flood or fire related emergencies to support safe relocation of livestock.

Debbie Evans, the RDBN’s agriculture coordinator, is currently working with RDBN and Ministry of Forests staff to develop a summary of what happened during emergency situations in 2017, and creating an action plan for 2018.

“We have to figure out where they [producers] will relocate animals to, who’s available and what trailers are ready to haul,” she said. “We’re trying to get all the pieces in place for when we are in an emergency situation.”

Evans added that she is also busy planning the 2018 Regional Agriculture Forum, which is expected to be held in February.


 

@flavio_nienow
newsroom@ldnews.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

(Black Press file photo)
Charges laid against two suspects in pre-Christmas home invasion

An 88-year-old woman was hospitalized after being bear-sprayed in the face Dec. 18, 2020

Liam and Tyler Spaans, (L-R), are two of the current lifeguards at the Houston Leisure Facility. (Houston Leisure Services file photo)
Leisure facility anticipates need for lifeguards

Has been challenged in the past

Residents rank snow removal as a high priority within District boundaries. (Houston Today file photo)
Road work and snow removal ranked as important in citizen survey

But residents also expressed dissatisfaction with each

The Topley Fire department will be using the funding towards new gear. (File photo)
Topley Fire Protection Society gets a $100,000 grant

Society among 132 recepients of the province’s Community Gaming Grant

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

Most Read