The latest round of funding from the Site C ag fund has been released, with eight projects across the B.C. Peace region receiving just over $180,000.
The following grants from the Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund were announced Thursday:
$80,380 for the Peace River Forage Association to conduct research on prescribed burning and its impacts on soil carbon storage in the region, and another $5,000 for holistic farm management training;
$31,346 to Zoe Newton to establish a three-acre orchard in Taylor to provide direct access to local fruit;
$24,952 to Joyce Skage for securing pens and shelters;
$19,470 to Dead Horse Creek Cattle Company for a Crown range watering system;
$9,150 to Theresa Loeseken for perimiter fencing at Valley Vista;
$5,000 for the Chetwynd Public Library Association to expand its Seed Library Educational Initiative; and
$5,000 for Community Futures Peace-Liard to host the inaugural Agro Connect Conference and Agricultural Market in Dawson Creek.
“From infrastructure improvements that will enhance operations for producers to initiatives that introduce agriculture to residents on a new level, the PACF is pleased to continue supporting local growers and producers,” said Rick Kantz, chairman of the fund, in a news release.
The Northern Development Initiative Trust is administering the $20-million compensation fund, started in 2018 to offset farm production losses to the Site C dam and its reservoir.
The Trust says funded research by the Peace River Forage Association will take place over three years and will focus on forage production, nutrition, and soil health, with the results to be shared regionally, provincially, and nationally.
“Across the Peace Region, prescribed fire has long been a land management tool used by farmers, ranchers, and Indigenous communities alike," said association president Neil Ward in a statement. "We are excited to have the opportunity to study its effects on the environment as well as train and educate residents and stakeholders about safe procedure and pasture rejuvenation benefits of this tool.”
The Agro Connect conference being held Feb. 10 and 11 will bring producers together to share resources and network, the Trust said, while introducing the community at large about opportunities to support local food security.
And this is the third time the Chetwynd seed library is receiving a grant from the fund, which the Trust says will help residents grow their own food while also creating more food opportunities for wildlife and pollinating insects.
"With these funds, we have been able to expand the seed library service by giving out free kits to our library patrons," said library director Melissa Millsap in a statement. "A lot of care and thought are put into these kits, having everything needed to set the growers up for success.
"This is something that our community has come to be very excited about and it is fantastic to see people of all ages learn so many great and wonderful things about what they can grow," Millsap said.
Since the fund was launched, more than $1.7 million has been approved for local projects, according to NDIT.
“These eight projects demonstrate the diverse ways people in the Peace Region are strengthening the agricultural industry and economy while supporting their neighbours with quality, local products,” said NDIT CEO Joel McKay.
“The PACF is pleased to support a broad range of organizations whose work directly benefits agriculture in the Peace Region.”