Powell River, BC has always been agriculturally inclined. Even the Powell River (Paper Mill) Company modeled the Townsite on the Garden City Movement, that was “grounded in basic respect for the humanity of the individual worker and their family” and followed these 4 rules:
- The town was to be entirely preplanned.
- Homes for employees and their families were to be constructed by the employer ensuring that each home had “ample room, ample air and a place in the yard for a garden”.
- That the entire town was to be surrounded by a green belt of trees or agricultural parkland.
- The town should incorporate to the best advantage a mix of industry, commerce, residential, gardens and green spaces ( http://www.powellrivertownsite.com/history/townsite_philosophy.htm)
While the area once supplied itself and neighbouring areas with fresh produce, meat and dairy, the rise in very large scale industrial agriculture on the mainland and Vancouver Island, along with the increased ease in transportation, induced a decline in commercial agriculture in the area since the 1960’s. Powell River still maintained a few farms, and many individual home gardens (especially in areas like Wildwood and Paradise Valley), to supply at least some local produce. More recently, with the increased popularity of Organic and non-GMO (Genetically-Modified Organisms–Powell River became an official GMO-free zone in 2004, the first in BC).
Since then, there has been a lot of interest in augmenting our agricultural profile through various activities like:
- plans to increase the availability of leased land for agricultural uses especially for lands in the Argicultural Reserve (ALR) (In October 2012, all property owners with 5 acres or more within the City of Powell River or 10 acres plus, in the Regional District were sent a letter, inviting them to consider short or long-term leases, or future sale of their agricultural properties, so as to make farmland more available to people who would like to actively farm but are deterred by the high price of purchasing land.)
- S.A.L.S.A Society for the Advancement of Local Sustainable Agriculture contact bird483(at)telus(dot)net plans for a Full-Circle Farm that would include a teaching and abattoir component
- community gardens in Sliammon, at schools, at the Community Resource Centre, and in every neighbourhood
- a food provisioners’ cooperative, Skookum Food, that also has (for members) a bulk buying club (The Abundant Pantry) and a Fruit/Nut Gleaning project Skookum Gleaners where folks can help pick fruit/nuts and share the produce with the tree owners.
- a local Food Security Project coordinator and private workshops promoting food growing, composting, and preserving
- small-scale food processors like Wild Westcoast Rainforest Products and Mountain Ash Preserves
- an ongoing Powell River Open Air Market (opens Saturdays 10:30AM/Sunday 12:30PM), and yearly Fall Fair
- a weekly market in Lund and South of Town at Kelly Creek, as well as an off-season market at the CRC
- Annual Edible Garden Tours (the next one being on August 3) to peak local interest in ‘growing one’s own’
- a local brewery in Townsite
- seasonal wild edibles/medicinal and mushroom-hunting tours, home gardening assistance and services via Routes to Roots Edibles, and a local Permaculture course via The Urban Farmer
- quite a few new and notable farms like Coast Berry Farm and Wolfson Creek Farm, among others
- a free annual local publication on Local Food in Powell River called Home Grown
- a recent government-funded local initiative to promote and brand regionally grown food, called SunCoast Grown
- and most recently a tannery for locally sourced and environmentally friendly tanning company, Tanned, Wild and Woolly Processing, and a major renovation on Ecossentials, Powell River’s all-Organic market that aims to provide as much local produce as possible also via their weekly vegetable basket delivery in Powell River and on Vancouver Island
We are happy to say that many of these initiatives have close links to Career Link and our parent non-profit The Powell River Employment Program Society (PREP); for example, Career Link helped Tanned, Wild and Woolly to develop their Job Creation Project plan.
If you are interested in pursuing self-employment in agriculture, or in finding local work in food-growing or processing, drop by Career Link and see our staff for more tips and advice, or if you are unemployed or working fewer than 20 hours per week, call us to set up an appointment with one of our Career Counsellors today (call 604.485.7958)
Powell River Agriculture Links
- Powell River Food Security Project: http://prfoodsecurity.org
- Powell River Farmers’ Institute http://prfarmers.ca/ and https://www.facebook.com/PRfarmers
- The SunCoast Grown program http://www.suncoastgrown.ca/
- Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative https://www.facebook.com/skookumfood and http://skookumfood.ca
- The Powell River & District Agricultural Association http://agripr.com/
- Community Agri-Links list
- Regional Local Food Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LocalFoodSunshineCoastBC
- Working on Organic Farms http://www.wwoof.ca/home
- Green Jobs http://www.goodwork.ca/jobs and
- Food Work http://foodwork.ca/