fields to offer fresh food to visitors. Duhaime doesn’t discount such
dreams. But, he has a bigger one. He envisions four or five
sustainable farming operations taking place on the 29-hectare farm. That would create operations of an appropriate size, since most of the Okanagan’s farm acreage is four to six hectares. The idea would be to make economically-viable farms of them with re-discovery of traditional mixed farming and value-added products. While one, perhaps involving dairy cows and resulting in cheese, might be static, others would evolve as the young farmers tested and tried out their ideas and got them in shape to translate onto their own land, in a few years.
“The Friends of Fintry want to bring the estate back to life,” said Duhaime. “Succession is a big issue in the valley with older farmers wanting to retire. This could create
opportunities for some young farmers interested in taking on those farms.” This project ties in perfectly with people who are more interested now in where their food comes from and how it’s produced, and the whole
JUDIE STEEVES Waterfront packinghouse at Fintry.
issue of food security, notes Duhaime. At the same time, it could be an exciting feature of the park, a drawing card for visitors interested in traditional, sustainable farming practices.
Duhaime says students are currently working on a literature review to identify all the different stakeholders and issues involved. Two students are doing primary research into the project, beginning with interviews with Fintry residents. Some of them have concerns about
possible allergens from crops that might be grown on the Fintry delta, while others are concerned about the possibility of grass fires—a fear that would be eased if crops were being irrigated there.
Efforts also are being made by the FOF to arrange for someone to re- seed the hayfields and get them back into production.
Now they’re looking for funding or access to reel line irrigation equipment which the FOF could lease.
GI registration builds credibility and more By Judie Steeves A
lthough many food products in France, including a number of cheeses, wines and spirits, are internationally registered with Geographic Indications, in Canada there is as yet only one registered product, l’agneau de Charlevoix.
However, there is now a group in B.C. looking at GIs and their value in preserving rural landscapes and lifestyles, protecting product names, and sales and promotion of products on global markets.
Keith Duhaime, agricultural support officer for the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, says Saltspring lamb may become the first B.C. GI, while North Okanagan spelt and Okanagan’s Finest beef could follow. Already, the U.S. is considering registering Florida oranges and Washington apples.
Internationally, he says the race is on to register products that are truly reflective of the terroir of a region, such as Darjeeling tea.
Once registered, there are means for intellectual property protection, including through the World Trade Organization.
In India, more than 130 products are registered, and not all are food products.
For example, if Cowichan sweaters were registered, it would protect the process, Duhaime explained. If new products were developed at Fintry, and they expressed the terroir of the Okanagan, they could be registered.
The French have their ‘appelation d’origine controllee’ (AOC) while Italy has Proscuitto di Parma IGP This spring, a group from the French ministry of agriculture visited the Okanagan looking for internships for students from farm schools, perhaps in the wine industry.
In France, agriculture is taken seriously, explained Duhaime, with 600 agricultural schools run by the government and internships are a big part of that education.
Each year, 850 students a year go onto farms and train as part of their education.
A number of farmers in the Okanagan will be hiring some of these students from France for six to 12 weeks. They’re looking for more placements, so if you’re interested, contact Duhaime at: email@example.com
British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2011
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