New Local Products & Produce Store!

There’s a fantastic new store in town! Seed to Culture opened at the beginning of October, and has been selling their local products and produce in a small store front located at 107 7th Avenue, up behind the old Lillooet Foods building.

Jill’s fermented products.

Jill Miners and Christoph Miles of the Rainshadow Growers Collective are the owners, and they sell both their own products as well as other local farmers’. Jill makes fermented foods like sauerkraut (in a variety of flavours!), dill pickles, pickled carrots, kimchi and kombucha. They are hoping to be making frozen soups within the next couple of weeks, that people can take home to heat up and have a healthy instant meal (words that rarely go together)!

Lots of kitchen space, and some Galeux d’Eysines squash!

Everything is made there in the commercial kitchen just behind the fridges and cash register. The two are planning to make the kitchen available for rent to other growers and farmers who would like to use the space to process and/or make value-added products. Currently they are carrying Amlec dehydrated goods, One Love Farm produce, Spray Creek eggs and a selection of meat, Gillian’s Herbs, Tinctures and Salves, and Felt Me Now succulents in felted bowls. There are products made and grown by Angela at Three Ravens Farmstead: fresh produce – Sieglinde potatoes, onions, leeks, and cabbage, frozen raspberries and some of her beautiful fiber arts and handmade tea towels. They have hearty, homemade soups ready to take home and heat up, as well as “gut shots” – probiotics in liquid form to keep your stomach flora healthy, and help keep those winter colds away! They are also open to selling other products, and say that they are happy to be approached about it.

The kombucha for sale is on tap, so bring your own re-usable container to fill up. Flavours vary, but will be things like Black Tea with Ginger, or Yerba Mate with Lavender and Chamomile. Yum! Other items on the couple’s seemingly endless list of things they are able to make out of Lillooet Grown produce are fresh-pressed, raw apple juice (will also be sold frozen) and apple cider vinegar.

Jill and Christoph are hoping to keep the store open year round, which will prove difficult in the summer season with their market attendance. (They go to the Pemberton, Whistler and Lillooet Farmers’ Markets on a weekly and bi-weekly basis.) At the moment they are selling at the Riley Park and Hastings Park winter markets in Vancouver.

Christoph & Jill

“We’d like the store to become more of a food hub/year round farmers’ market/food co-op with local produce and perhaps even take away items with food all grown and prepared right here.” “We’d like to see Lillooet farmers able to sell all their produce here and not have to travel miles and miles each week to other markets.”

If you want to go and check it out, Seed to Culture is now open Monday to Friday from 11 to 6pm. I recommend the Kimchi. 😉

Felt Me Now felted bowls with succulents.

Lillooet’s At the Table Event

Participants in discussion.

On September 13th 2018, to celebrate their 75th anniversary, the Vancouver Foundation hosted “On the Table BC”. It was an event hosted by communities all across BC, and the discussions were recorded to be added to the Vancouver Foundation’s research. They state, “By gathering together face-to-face and sharing food and conversation, we can learn new things about what connects us, and what we wish for.” (Vancouver Foundation website)

Inspired by this idea, the Lillooet Area Library Association and the Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society partnered to put on an event for non-profits in Lillooet on November 4th. The idea was to bring together the many different groups and active community members we have in Lillooet to see what we could work together on, and how we could collaborate to overcome challenges we all face as small non-profits and charities in a remote area.

Marianne presenting to the group.

There was a fantastic turn out, with 55 people showing up at 10am on a Sunday morning. The event was extremely well-organized, and there wasn’t a moment wasted as we moved to different groups and discussed the various topics laid out. Each group had a facilitator to keep us on track, and we found many common areas that we would all like to see worked on.

Marianne Gagnon and Toby Mueller from the Lillooet Library, as well as Jacquie Rasmussen from the Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society, were in charge of organizing this great gathering, a huge thank you to them for getting us all together to foster future collaborations. As LAFS we are excited about partnering with some of the many initiatives in town to work towards common goals.

Here’s to communication, collaboration and community!

Beekeeping Workshop

Our Beekeeping workshop with Bob Meredith and Mischa Chandler turned out even better than planned!  Thanks to the beautiful, sunny October weather, Bob decided to bring a hive to open for everyone to have a closer look.  The reason he had warned that we wouldn’t be opening a hive, is that if it weren’t warm and pleasant outside, the bees would not have been happy to be disturbed.  (Bob likens it to someone ripping the roof off your house when you’re enjoying a cup of tea on a miserable day.)  As it was, the bees seemed in quite a good mood, as no one got stung!

Bob started off our event by describing his history with beekeeping, as well as some of the history of beekeeping in Lillooet.  As you can imagine, the two histories are thoroughly intertwined!  Despite finding beekeeping to be incredibly rewarding, Bob cautioned that it is not what it once was.  Due to the ever-increasing amount of diseases that can affect bee colonies in British Columbia, it is getting harder and harder to keep a healthy hive.  And if you don’t have a healthy hive, you risk infecting other hives and other beekeepers’ livelihoods.

After Bob’s presentation, we all headed over to the hive for a look!

There were enough veils for everyone to go in and get up close, while Bob and Mischa explained things like the smoke, how to spot the queen and many interesting facts about the life of bees.  Things like how the guard drones keep watch at the entrance of the hive, what leads up to “swarming” in search of a new home, and how bees keep warm in the winter months.

After closing up the hive, Mischa talked to the group about why native bee species can be much better at pollinating, and what people can do to help pollinator populations thrive. Two good examples were to keep a messy gardens (bumble bees like to burrow and nest in the ground and like lots of organic material), and build a few mason bee houses. The best way to build a place for the mason bees is to drill some holes in a round of wood, and hang it up around your garden or house. He mentioned that range of sizes from 1/8inch to 5/16inch will include pretty much all local species.
We were very grateful to have a beautiful, sunny fall day to learn a bit about bees.

New Area B Director Vivian Birch-Jones

Vivian and her dog Mylu

Vivian has been working with LAFS for some time now, providing amazing leadership, communications and public relations skills. As an ambassador and team member, Vivian is always full of excitement for new projects and ideas, and passionate about LAFS’ mission. Vivian is someone any organization could benefit from having, and we will certainly miss her here at LAFS, but we are excited to see her move on to a new challenge!

What made you want to become the Area B Director?
Mickey Macri wanted to retire and he was looking for a replacement and invited me to run. I had just completed many years on the BC Hydro Fish and Wildlife Compensation program Board so that freed up some time for me and I believe the skill set required is similar. Mickey has been very supportive of my running for the position and has offered me a lot of background information and coaching – this has been most helpful.

Have you always had an interest in politics?
Yes! It is a slow painful process and system but it’s ‘the best we’ve got’. I think my experience and years of community involvement and work give me some background and skills for the role.

What are the three things that are most important to you?
I am impressed with the work the SLRD has done on the Agricultural Land Use plan and the Regional Growth Strategy and look forward to contributing to that. I am also concerned that we ‘manage’ the tourism wave that is coming our way in a manner that respects the environment and conserves habitat and protected spaces. Conservation and education are key to this.

Do you have any goals/aspirations within the position?
To be a strong voice for our area (we are a rather ‘small’ population at the north end of a very busy corridor). To continue to support the agricultural sector here, which is thriving and needs to keep on thriving. Area B is a large and diverse geographical area and I look forward to hearing from constituents and bringing their concerns forward.

What are you most looking forward to within the job?
I am grateful that I was acclaimed to the position so I can start getting to know the constituents and hear about their issues immediately. It was fun to complete my campaign finance form report with a fat ‘zero’. I plan to offer a drop in forum at a local café on a regular basis to be available to constituents. I look forward to visiting the far flung corners of Area B and meeting with the groups that reside in this beautiful part of the world.

Farm Focus: Old Airport Gardens

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
Aggie and Arnold started the orchard in mid seventies.  The first crops were 10 rows of tomatoes, 10 rows of corn, and 4 rows of cucumbers.  As time went on they added melons and squash and peppers.  Now we have hot peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli kohlrabi and many varieties of herbs.  The market garden started in ’82 and the orchard began to produce and it was strictly Upick.  Bob and Monica took over the farm in the early 2000’s.  Before that in the 90’s many Italian families would come to pick our exceptional tomatoes.  Aggie used to take the scale out to the fields so people could weigh them right there!

Can you tell us a about your farming practices?
Old Airport Gardens is a family run agricultural farm and we don’t spray anything (except organic sprays when absolutely needed). We used to grind up sulphur to combat the wire worms which used to attack the potatoes.  When we get horn worms we pick them off whenever we see them (the kids used to get paid 10 cents a worm).  They usually attack the tomatoes at all stages of growth; they hit our eggplant and tomatoes quite badly this year so we always have extra plants in the greenhouse to replace the damaged our dead plants as needed.  We do feed our plants when required.

What do you know about LAFS and why?
We have heard of LAFS through various members in the community and have received lots of information on the organization from Jaquie Rassmussen and Sarah Petznick. I think its a wonderful resource for farmers and ranchers in the Lillooet region as there are many challenges that face the agricultural community including making a living and paying a living wage to labourers.

What all do you grow and where are your products sold?
What we’ve already mentioned…as well as apples, pears, onions, garlic, plums, peaches, apricots, kale, Herbs, corn,hot and bell peppers, summer and winter squash, cucumbers, pickles, melons, cantaloupes Oh! Lavender!These days we primarily just sell in our fruit stand but also to a few stores in Lillooet as well as up north on the highway at the 108 supermarket. We used to do various farmers markets but due to understaffing we have slowed down but hope to do more in coming years.

What are your plans for the future?
As for the future it is always a plan that is changing with the needs of our community as well as the weather and our staff. We love providing the area with quality food products which provide many health benefits to our customers. We are a must stop for many people who love to can for winter foodstuffs and many return each year and have become like family to us. This is also the site for the East Lillooet Japanese internment camps during WW2, and we have tours that come each year to commemorate the history here.

All photos taken by Sarah Petznick.

Photo Contest Winner!

We received so many gorgeous photographs of Lillooet and the surrounding area! The winner of our contest was Angela Kuprel, with the photo above.

Angela and Angus

Angela runs a lifestyle blog over at, and has been living in Lillooet and doing photography work for six years now.

These days she can be found out hiking or riding on the local trails, or walking with her dog Angus.  She also makes beautiful locally grown gourd lamps, hand tooled leather belts and buckles, and hand-woven pine needle baskets. Angela is a healthy lifestyle advocate, and promotes an active, outdoor life and healthy eating on her website.  For Angela, this includes hikes with Angus every day, where she draws inspiration for her various forms of art.

Angela is at the Farmers’ Market on Fridays – a great place to stop in and see some of her beautiful work.

Here’s a short interview with the local artist!

What kind of art do you sell at the farmers’ market? Do you make other things that you do not sell?

Farmers market:  I started with reclaimed copper bracelets as whenever I wore mine I was asked if I found it helped with arthritic joint pain (and I feel that it does), then added natural soaps, lip balms healing skin creams & bars made with local beeswax & soy candles. (All pictured above.)

Gorgeous gourd lamps

The following year I added Ponderosa pine needle baskets & pendants, made from needles harvested around my property, then then 2 years later added led gourd lamps (grown also in Lillooet).

Most recently I added hand tooled leather belts, belt buckles and bracelets which had been on the “back burner” so to speak for many years.

Two years ago one of my baskets (pictured above) won 3rd voted prize at the Apricot fest art show at the Miyazaki house, and last year a woven platter (below) with yarn basket won 1st voted prize!!

I make many other items when I need them, like my wool hunting pants; wool coat made from a shawl I found at the thrift store for my Staffy who has no warm under layer of fur, seat covers for our trucks…the list in never ending!

Angela’s handmade grocery bag!

What we really pride ourselves with, is being able to sustain about 80% of a 150 mile diet. I also make consious efforts to re use materials, such as my crochet grocery bags, and paper bags made from reclaimed packing paper. I have gotten a rubber stamp made and use recalimed paper for business cards instead of printing “new” one.

Reclaimed business cards

I’ve waited all my life to be “an artist” and to do art full time!

What is your favourite thing about Lillooet/this region?
The ruggedness, steep rocky mountains, big space to be alone in and of course our sunny dry climate!

What are your top three health tips?
1) Eat healthy (no processed foods!)
2) Exercise daily
3) Mitigate stress

If I could say that all in one line it would be:
Live a balanced life: exercise daily, mitigate stress, eat well and sleep well.

Thanks Angela!

Harvest Festival Workshops

The annual Harvest Festival in Lillooet year had a new event this year: mini workshops hosted by LAFS, in partnership with the Investment Agriculture Foundation.

Rolf DeBruin, Jean-Sebastien Ouellette, Sam Quinlan and Lesley Provost all put on interesting and informative workshops.  These included a presentation on basic viticulture by Rolf, which covered the basics of planting a vineyard, what to worry about, and what one might get to enjoy growing grapes!

For example, beautiful vineyards views:

(Photos courtesy of Fort Berens Estate Winery)

Jean-Sebastien gave a hands-on demonstration of sourdough making – the same bread he bakes daily for Fort Berens Kitchen.

Photo Credit: Vivian Birch-Jones

He taught the group how to make sourdough starter, how to take care of it, and how to get the best crust.  Everyone got to try some bread baked that morning, and could opt in for an email with all the details for trying it at home.

Lesley Provost, Fort Berens’ Sommelier, gave a talk on food and wine pairing with Jean-Sebastien, and participants were able to sample a white and a red from the winery’s collection.  The discussion covered which types of wine pair well with food, and questions from the crowd at the end got everyone talking about what amazing local food we have in Lillooet, as well as about Noma, a world-class restaurant that is on the frontier of local food innovation!

Photo Credit: Vivian Birch-Jones

Last up in our presentation lineup was Sam Quinlan of Harvesters of Organic Hops, who brought in a big vine of hops, as well as his processed versions for everyone to take a look at, touch and smell.  Sam’s passion for growing hops was evident from the moment he arrived, and it seemed that the group couldn’t help but crowd right up to the table to listen and learn with Sam as he discussed many aspects of hop growing, harvesting and processing.

We were extremely grateful to have the support of the Investment Agriculture Foundation, through the Province of British Columbia, in order to be able to put on these workshops.  We hope that we will be able to run more workshops at the festival in the future.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for our Bee Keeping Workshop coming up in October!

Rose Hill Featured on SLRD’s Video “Love This Place, Reduce Your Waste”

“A casual reading of daily newspapers makes clear that waste management, and in particular landfilling, is high on the political agenda of many municipalities, and is recognized as a leading environmental problem.” – Heeney, 2003

If you haven’t seen it – go and check out the SLRD’s video about what the Lillooet Landfill is doing to help our community improve their recycling and waste habits.  It’s got some beautiful footage of Lillooet, and discusses a very timely topic – our waste and how to make less of it.

Around the world, people are waking up to the fact that we haven’t taken into account the true cost of our waste.  What can we do about it?  Well, as Sue Senger of Rose Hill Farm says in the video, the ultimate goal is zero waste. How we go about getting there, is by getting better at managing what we throw away.  The wise alliteration, “Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle” is being put into effect here at our landfill site.  Rick Hjerpe has created recycling facilities for almost all of the items we routinely discard, and a free store for the ones that could be re-used by someone else.  Tour the landfill site with Rick for an impressive list of recyclable items – including oils, paint and all kinds of electronics.  It’s good to know that so much of what could go in to our landfill can be recycled, keeping it out of our soil and extending the use of our valuable resources.

The video also takes viewers on a tour of Rose Hill Farm with Sue, where she explains why she farms, what she’s farming, and how she is reducing her own waste. Sue also speaks to invasive plants in the area – an all too common problem in British Columbia.  It’s important not to compost invasive species, as it simply compounds the problem!  (For more information about how to spot invasives, and what you can do to prevent and eliminate them, check out the Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society website here.)

With climate change upon us, and an ever-growing global community, every little bit that each of us can do to protect our land, our water and our environment helps insure a healthier future for those to come.

“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.” – Carl Sagan    

New Director – Rolf deBruin

What do you know about what LAFS is doing? I am aware of a few things: initiatives around a slaughterhouse, educational workshops, the brand development of Lillooet Grown foods.

What made you want to join the LAFS Board of Directors?
I was part of the working group that created the Agricultural Plan.  I was on the Agriculture Advisory Committee for the SLRD in 2011.  I am excited about the fact that there is lots of opportunity for agriculture here, we have one of the best growing seasons in Canada for all kinds of crops.  I’d like to see that get more attention. The food security goal is fantastic, and I’d say that was my trigger to join the board: I want to see more focus on the underutilized ALR.

What do you plan to bring to the LAFS board?
I hope to come to a number of initiatives to encourage and assist in the development of more added-value acreages.  I would love to see more grapes!  But as a LAFS board member, I’m not solely focusing on that.  Part of the issue here is the huge lot sizes, we need to work with the ALR to create more reasonable farm sizes.  There is much higher productivity with smaller parcel sizes.

What part of LAFS mission are you most passionate about?
Land and farmers.  There is lots of talk of small scale agriculture demanding a premium, and we can’t realise that if we only have huge pieces of land for people to try and use.  For example, Chris Billion produces amazing carrots.  We need more Chris Billions.  So we need to work with the ALR to encourage smaller lots for better access and availability of land.

Future ideas?  Vision for agriculture?
We need to put Lillooet on the map! We need to brand to be able to sell our produce and be recognized as an agricultural region.  This will help bring in new farmers.  We’ve been working on that as a winery – the branding, and now Lillooet is a VQA. Ten years down the road, I’d like to be able to say that we helped found that, and bring more growers and vineyards to the area.

Farmer Focus: Immian Wolfe and Green Dirt Farm

Immian Wolfe, one of the founding members of LAFS, runs the Organic and Veganic Green Dirt Farm in Texas Creek.  He and his family of five moved back to Lillooet from Aldergrove 5 years ago to farm.  Green Dirt is focusing on growing salad mixes and garlic this year, and have plans to expand to other crops when they have fine-tuned the systems they have in place.  I went out to Texas Creek to do a short interview with him last week.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
“Can you answer that one?” Here’s what I can tell you:  Immian was working for Silver Hills as VP Plant Operations, when he decided to move back to Lillooet, where he grew up.  He says a big part of moving back was because the people are friendly here, and he missed his family and the area.  Immian and his lovely wife Kymbreelee have four children: Arycia, Riella, Isaiah and Ellie.  They moved from the coast with plans to enjoy a more relaxed, outdoor, farming lifestyle, and raise their children in the country.

Can you tell us a about your farming practices?
Veganic growing practices mean that Green Dirt does not use any kind of animal inputs in the growing process.  One of the biggest challenges is weeds.  Stale bedding allows for planting with very minimal weeds.  This technique involves targeting weed seeds in the shallow layer of the soil. They are allowed germinate, and then killed by raking through the soil with a shallow cultivator just prior to planting the crop. During the sixteen-week long season, we are planting twice a week to keep up with the demand.  It is possible that we may have to switch to 4 or 5 plantings a week for tighter management of leaf size but for now, two is making the cut!

When did you get involved with LAFS and why?
Right away – I was on the Area B Agricultural Committee.  When the Agricultural Plan was completed, the SLRD was looking for an organization to implement the Ag Plan and LAFS was created.

Where are your products sold?
Green Dirt Farms salad mixes currently come in Baby Spinach, Baby Arugula, Power Salad Mix, Baby Kale, Lettuce and Spring Mix. They are available in Nature’s Fare, Choices, Spud/Urban Fare, Quality Foods, Buy Low, Nester’s, and the Country Store, and select independent retailers.

What are your plans for the future?
My vision for the future is all about seeing the farm provide for our little family so we can continue to love and work in this amazing area. Over the next couple of years, I intend to get all of the acres we have leased and available into production. Right now the farm is actively using 14 acres of the 24.

As I leave, Immian laughs, “Most people work 9-5, farmers work 5-9, and sometimes a little bit more. With the seasonal nature of only being able to grow things for half the year, you have to work hard during that time.”