I would like to start off by thanking Jon Bell for his six years of service to the BCAFM. He has been a great leader and I have enjoyed working with him for the past three years. As the past president, I hope to call upon him occasionally so we can enjoy a good story and a good drink. As the new President, I have big shoes to fill – his feet are at least two sizes bigger!
I am really excited about the opportunity to work on your behalf as the President of the BCAFM. I’ve been operating my own ranch in the Cariboo for the last fifteen years and as a meat producer, I’ve seen significant changes in both the industry and how we manage production. That being said, I am excited about the opportunities that agriculture and food production have in our local communities, as I feel that farmers’ markets are going to become even more necessary as a local food source moving into the future. Having been a vendor at multiple markets, I understand firsthand the rewards and the struggles in trying to get our product to market. When the directors asked me why I wanted to be President I had four primary areas that I saw as being important.
- 1. I want the BCAFM to be a major player in provincial agriculture. When the province or any other organization wants to talk about agriculture I want it to include us. When they talk about food, selling of food, growing of food, agriculture, farms, or any other related topic I want them to actively include us as part of that conversation. When other provinces or countries are interested in farmers’ markets, they come to us for best practices and innovative ideas. As part of this we need to actively pursue advocacy opportunities.
- 2. I want a membership that is strong, vibrant, financially sustainable and valued as essential contributors in their communities. I want each market to be recognized as a vital part of its community and to be treated as such. This is why we need to continue our educational programs for members, develop outreach programs, assist in developing cooperative marketing, support First Nations participation, look for partnership opportunities, and incubate farm businesses, amongst other supportive activities.
- 3. I want farmers’ markets to be a part of any farmers business plan, because they recognize that it is a good source of income and a critical piece of their farm growth. I want farmers to be able to work together to access broader markets and for markets to work together to make this happen.
- 4. We need to find a way to make all of the above financially sustainable. Education, outreach, marketing, business development, nutrition coupons, partnership activities and any other program or project must have a financial component to it that benefits the BCAFM.
The BCAFM is already such a great organization with a strong history. In fact, from an agriculture perspective, the BCAFM and its member markets provide the largest agriculture services within the province. With over 130 farmers’ markets in the province we are able to talk about fresh, local food in communities where we are sometimes the only voice. Market members support each other with knowledge and how-to, sometimes with equipment, visiting each other, sharing tips and tricks, advocating for each other, and generally being the voice that says locally sourced food is important. So if you are that voice in your community, then hats off to you, as we work together to continue the success of farmers’ markets in our province.