Ideal Food System Visioning and a Riveting Agriculture Panel Discussion

Network Meeting Summary
December 6, 2018

Secwepemc Word of the Month: swucwt (swoo-kt) = Snow

Board Update
At the November board meeting, directors discussed the shortage of community meals resulting from the JUMP closure and the need to bring together emergency meal providers to discuss capacity and plans to improve the meal schedule in Kamloops. Directors also discussed progress made on the Community Based Food Plan Implementation Project. Policy/plan aggregation is complete and an initial meeting of plan holders is scheduled for early January 2019.

Staff Update
Five staff and Board members attended the Unpacking White Privilege in the Food Movement learning series in Vancouver. This was an incredible opportunity to discuss facets of white privilege, white fragility, and white supremacy (e.g., urgency, perfectionism, either/or thinking, task completion over relationships) in our day to day lives. With facilitators from Vancouver and San Francisco, participants were provided the space to look at how white privilege impacts us personally, interpersonally, organizationally, and systemically. There is great interest to bring something like this to Kamloops, so stay tuned.

Delving Deeper Into Our Ideal Food System
Six discussion questions emerged from the November network meeting and were explored in more detail this month:

1. What role do we want to play in having a resilient food system/healthy land and water? Is this about:
a. How food is grown in Kamloops?
b. Acting as a model in the province/country/world?
c. Encouraging and advocating for changes?
d. Something else?

2. What do we mean by culturally appropriate food? What phrase might we use instead?

3. Is the Kamloops Food Policy Council inclusive? What are steps towards us becoming more inclusive?

4. What role should we, and can we, play in addressing systemic barriers to food security (e.g., living wage, costs for housing and transportation)?

5. To have an ideal food system in Kamloops, how should we address all the steps in between growing and buying food (e.g., the supply chain, processing, storage and value added services in Kamloops)?

6. What are the benefits of the food commons, local food assets, and a sharing economy? What outcomes might we see by helping the food commons grow?

If you were unable to attend the December network meeting, but would like to provide your input to these questions, please send your responses to info@kamloopsfoodpolicycouncil.com.

Agriculture Panel Discussion
Hearing from three longstanding agrarians in the region proved to be informative and funny. There were many moments of laughter interspersed with learning about how each operation is engaging in regenerative practices, how a marketing board serves producers, and how the recent US Mexico Canada Agreement will impact Canadian farmers (it depends!).

Laura Hunter, fourth generation farmer from Blackwell Dairy, is based in Barnhartvale. Although they have done many things over the years, they are strictly a dairy at this time. Each year, they are putting new land under crop, growing their own hay, corn silage and haylage. Recently, they have reclaimed 40 acres of totally unusable land by covering it with top soil and plan to grow feed on it. Laura highlighted the high degree to which they value animal welfare, ensuring that there are more beds than cows in the barn and regularly checking for injuries. The processing plant that was lost to fire in June 2017 has been rebuilt on the same footprint and reuses the same foundation. They are slated to re-open in February 2019 (fantastic news!).

Being a dairy, they are closely involved with the BC Milk Marketing Board, which helps with marketing and promoting dairy. This means the farmers can focus on their farming and meeting the very fine line of quota. Quota establishes how much each dairy needs to produce every month at a certain quality. If quota is short or over, the dairy is penalized, however they are allowed to trade, share, buy and sell to get quota exactly on the mark.

John Greenall, from Rafter Lazy J Ranch, spoke about the cow-calf operation he and his wife, Judy, have been operating since 1995. Having grown up on cow-calf farms, both John and Judy wanted to start their own after reaching their Freedom 55 goals. Judy’s family purchased one of their herds from Yakima Valley cattle baron, Ben Snipes, known as the Northwest Cattle King, as he travelled through Kamloops. His brand, an ‘S’, became the third brand registered in B.C.

Over the last four years, John and Judy have been modifying the grazing patterns for their cattle. After building 7 km of fence, and subdividing their fields into small paddocks (around 8 to 10 acres), they can mob graze their cattle — moving them weekly to a new paddock with fresh pasture. Using rotational grazing like this means that everything is eaten down and there is an even distribution of manure. In addition to an incredible growth in grass because of the even grazing and fertilization, they have noticed that there is almost no knapweed or oxeye daisy because the cows eat it all!

Jimmy Dhaliwal, from M & J Dhaliwal Green Farm, described his family’s 30 years of growing vegetables on 30 acres in McLure. Although they have grown all types of vegetables, they focus now on potatoes and onions; planting, weeding and harvesting from April to September/October and drawing from their storage from November to March. They sell their vegetables locally and throughout BC.

In terms of regenerative practices, each year sees a decreased amount of inputs, like fertilizers, used on the farm. In addition to this, crop rotation is helping to reduce pest pressure and improve water retention, thereby helping irrigation to be more efficient. By building soil health, there is more resilience to handle climate fluctuations such as extreme heat or rain. Jimmy described how local retailers are becoming more accepting of ‘ugly’ produce. Their farm has about 10% of their yield fall into this category. Around 20% is so badly damaged that it needs to be sent as cattle feed or added to the compost pile. The big takeaway of the evening: Kamloops needs a distillery to use these cull potatoes!

In discussing the US Mexico Canada Agreement, it became clear that it was bad for dairy farmers, but good (and necessary) for the beef industry. For dairy farmers, the USMCA gives away 3.9% of the Canadian market and restricts labelling (e.g., the logos that denote that milk comes from BC or Canadian dairies might not be allowed). Alternately, for beef, the U.S. is Canada’s largest import and export market, so the borders need to be open for the ease of cattle moving back and forth.

It was clear from the number of questions to the panelists that the audience was engaged with the knowledge and experiences that were being shared. Because of time constraints, it felt like we ended before all questions were answered. Perhaps there is a sequel brewing for this panel?

Who’s Who
ASK Wellness
Ban the Bag
Gardengate
Interior Health
Kamloops Organic Buying Club
Lived Experience Committee
The Naturalist Club
Thompson Master Gardeners
TRU Education
UBCO
White Buffalo

Announcements
Ban the Bag petition – With just over 1,600 signatures so far, the local team of four petitioners is aiming for 2,500 by mid-January, when it will be presented to City Council. Consider taking two minutes to sign the petition and ban single use plastics from Kamloops.

Next Network Meeting
Wednesday, February 6, 2019 (Yes, you read that right. There is no network meeting in January)

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