In the fall, the Regional District of Central Kootenay hired a consulting team to create an agriculture plan for the region — one of the last regional districts in the province to do so. It chose a local team led by longtime food and farming advocate Abra Brynne rather than the usual suspects.
As Brynne shared with the selection committee, “Given that we all live in the region and aren’t planning to leave, we are motivated to come up with a plan that is very precise and practical.”
As stated by the RDCK, “The goal is to ultimately adopt a plan that defines the district’s role with respect to agriculture, and identify the priority actions necessary to support the viability of farming in the district, which takes in the regional context and anticipates future changes. The district wishes to ensure that the agricultural capability of the area is realized and protected as part of a secure food supply for the region.”
Besides Brynne’s five-member team, a steering committee was created consisting of a cross section from the region that included farmers, regional directors and farm/food activists. Area C director Larry Binks, along with Randy Meyer (hay and livestock producer) and Don Lowe (former district agrologist, and cherry grower) represented the Creston region with support from Gary Jackman from Area A.
“I think the RDCK ag plan is important because it has the potential to help protect the agricultural land base and enhance the viability of farmers in the region,” said Meyer. “Producing more of our food locally is important to many of us in the area.”
Throughout the late Fall and Winter months, Abra and her team held a series of town hall meetings and more intimate ‘kitchen table’ chats to gather input from as many interested parties as possible. Meetings were held in Creston, Casltegar, Kaslo, New Denver, Nakusp, Crawford Bay, Meadow Creek, Harrop/Procter and Nelson. Concurrently, an online survey at their web site www.agplan.ca allowed for additional input for those who were unable to attend.
The rich and diverse input was recorded and formed the basis for a preliminary set of recommendations that were shared back to all participants as well as the requisite agricultural and political departments and organizations. Based on this feedback, and intensive dialogue within the steering committee, a set of recommendations were created that will be presented to the regional directors in May.
On May 3, the ag plan recommendations will be shared at the West Creston Hall from 7-9 p.m. The community is invited to engage in a conversation and offer additional feedback to Brynne and her team.