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Economic Forum 2017: Farming Outside the Box

With more than three-quarters of Township of Langley’s land falling within the Agricultural Land Reserve, it’s no wonder agriculture has played a huge role in our history and continues to be a major economic contributor to our municipality. 

In September, representatives from government and the local business community took part in a farm tour by bus, which made stops at four diverse farm businesses to explore this year’s topic of “Farming Outside the Box,” as part of our Economic Forum on the Road.

As part of the Agricultural Advisory and Economic Enhancement Committee’s work plan, the event kicked off at Vista D’Oro Farms & Winery, where participants were treated to a breakfast that was composed of entirely locally grown and prepared foods courtesy of Lee and Patrick Murphy, owners of Vista D’Oro.

Amy Robinson, the founder and executive director behind LOCO BC, a non-profit local business alliance, spoke about the growing need to support local businesses.

“On average, 46% of revenue from local independent businesses is recirculated locally, compared to 18% of purchases at chain stores,” said Robinson. “Each consumer shift of 1% of spending can increase BC’s workforce by 3,100 jobs and send $94 million in wages to BC workers.”

The tour continued to GoJoy Berries, where Peter and Denise Breederland spoke about why they decided to take a chance on becoming the first goji berry farm in Canada, starting a product line featuring the little known superfood known more in Asian markets for its health benefits.

The next stop was Central Park Farms, which specializes non-GMO fed and free-range chicken, pasture raised pork, grass fed beef, as well as farm fresh eggs from non-GMO fed and pasture raised hens. Farm owner Kendall Ballantine gave a tour of her farm and shared the farm’s philosophy of humane and ethical farming, which includes adopting a food waste program to reduce the amount of spoiled produce going into the landfill. She asked authorities to look for opportunities to encourage young adults to farm and protect agriculture for generations to come.

The day ended at Fraser Valley Cider Company. Rachel Bolongaro and her husband Sean offered product samplings and a behind-the-scenes look at their growing operation. A catered lunch was provided, which featured “Township local” foods including chicken from Central Park Farms. Patrick Murphy of Vista D’Oro wrapped up the day’s events with a keynote about the importance of buying local.

Consider what you can do to support farm sustainability. Visit locobc.com to learn more about how your buying power affects your community.