Building on our rich history of farming

The annual Farmer2Farmer Conference will take place March 2 at the Saanich Fairgrounds

The annual Farmer2Farmer Conference will take place March 2 at the Saanich Fairgrounds.

The annual Farmer2Farmer Conference will take place March 2 at the Saanich Fairgrounds.

Since time immemorial farming has played a fundamental role in our region.

Whether it was the cultivation of camas fields for the tasty starchy bulb that was and is a mainstay of the Lekwungen and W_SÁNEC diets, or the plowing and planting of vegetable fields and orchards the settler communities established. Farmers were and are the foundation of our community.

But who are these people, farmers? What does farming look like today? What we may see driving past the farms on Blenkinsop or West Saanich Road only tell part of the picture.

Today’s farmers, more than ever, are the Jills and Jacks of all trades. So few professions demand such a broad set of skills that engage both the right and left brain, and push the body to its limits. Farmers are nothing but strong. It takes a special character and spirit to take on the challenge of farming.

They are entrepreneurs, managing a fully integrated business and production/distribution chain; soil scientists, nurturing the complexity of the living soil to keep it fertile and producing; architects and builders, scheming, designing and building greenhouses, sheds, shelters and irrigation systems; planners and policy advisors, providing input and advice to all levels of government in agricultural policy and food security; mechanics, fixing tractors, pumps, automated egg-washers and the list goes on; veterinarians, administering medications, helping with birth and providing first aid; marketing specialists, creating websites, promoting through social media and developing brands; and public relations managers, engaging with retail executives, government funders and the general public at every turn.

Whew! And with all of that on their plate it is surprising that farmers have time to actually work their fields. But that is what Farmer2Farmer is about. The annual Farmer2Farmer Conference is an initiative about local people, local issues and local solutions. It provides powerful networking and learning opportunities for farmers and food producers in the region.

This year’s conference on March 2 at the Saanich Fairgrounds will bring together over 200 regional farmers from all reaches of Vancouver Island and the mainland in a day of skill building, networking and ideas that make work better, easier and more collaborative in all of these diverse areas that make up the farming job description.

From financial management, to choosing whether to have livestock, to soil fertility and inputs for productivity, to selling to the retail market – tips, ideas and skill building of all sorts will pack the day. Please join us for this yearly event, and help to spread the word.  For conference tickets and exhibitor information for the farming fair, visit www.farmer2farmer.ca.

Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at lgeggie@cfair.ca.