New Gleaning Coordinator

fullsizeoutput_119e Hello LAFS community! I am Wren Kerslake, I have been hired for the summer to be the new Gleaning Program Coordinator for the Lillooet Agriculture and Food Society. Although I grew up in Lillooet, I have been away for the last two years living in Victoria to finish high school.  I am very happy to be back in my home town, and I look forward to reconnecting with the people of Lillooet and meeting the new-comers. While I finished high school, I gained experience working with non-profit organizations in Victoria as a youth leader.  I was inspired by the many different initiatives I experienced during my time away and I am excited to become a part of one in my own community. I grew up on a farm outside Lillooet, and spent a large part of my life weeding, picking fruit, and running around the Farmer’s Market.  I have always loved the tradition of sharing food with friends and neighbours. I look forward to developing a system for continuing this wonderful practice. I am happy to be back home for the summer and working in a job to help the lovely community of Lillooet grow and prosper. To contact Wren, you can reach her on the Gleaning for Life Facebook group or at

LAFS’ Database

Tired of Google-searching and sifting through the irrelevant material? Looking for key agricultural contacts, financial resources or crop-specfic grants? LAFS’ Agriculture Resource Database can help!

Check it out at

Specifically designed for farmers, ranchers, growers and producers in our area, the database has hundreds of local resources, researched for our region. Categories include: Education & Learning, Production, Finances, Plans & Regulations, Operations, Funding, Important Contacts, and Sales & Distribution. You can narrow down the search for specific commodities: Livestock, Crops, Cattle, Bees/Apiculture, Fruit, and Vegetables.

So the next time you’re looking for a grant to help fund an agriculture-related project, or want to find the contact information for someone at the Ministry of Agriculture, or want to find out what the regulations are for agri-tourism activities of ALR land, make the new Database your first stop!

BCAFM Farmers’ Market Nutritional Coupon Program

Infographic by BCAFM

This year, the Lillooet Agriculture and Food Society will again be partnering with the Friendship Centre Society, First Nations Health and Interior Health to run the BC Farmers’ Market Nutritional Coupon Program for the 2019 season.  

If you haven’t heard of the Coupon Program, here is a little bit about it:

The program provides a way for low-income families and individuals to access fresh, nutritious foods at our local market.  Each week, the person enrolled in the program through one of our partners is given $21 in coupons that can be spent on fresh meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables.

The BCAFM Nutritional Coupon Program supports underprivileged families and individuals, giving them access to fresh food that is otherwise expensive and not always an option at the Food Bank.  In addition to this positive contribution to our community’s health and wellness, having the program here last year was a huge catalyst for making our market more viable.  Vendors who in the past had come irregularly were showing up every week, which meant much more fresh produce available for the community.  Everyone involved (our three community partners, the farmers’ market board, the participants and LAFS staff and directors) were strong supporters of the program, and noticed the positive effects it has had in here in Lillooet.

We had great success last year, and all those involved had positive feedback about the benefits of being a part of the program. Lillooet was allotted 12 families by the program, and last year 100 People Who Care donated funds to support 12 more families/individuals in need. And we still had a waitlist!

If you are interested in being involved in the program, or would like to donate to help support a family, feel free to reach out to us at LAFS: 

Our goal is to support as many people in Lillooet as we can, and we hope to be able to support at least the same number as last year (24).  

To learn more, check out the link to the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets video below. Note that the coupons are now $21 a week, instead of $15.

Lillooet’s Seedy Sunday 2019

This year Lillooet Food Matters expanded their Seedy Sunday event to include local farmers, producers and market vendors. The theme was “Bringing People Together”, with an emphasis on food, growing, and sustainability, with locally sourced supplies and ingredients.

Despite it not quite feeling like spring just yet, there was a great turnout!

Jonathan of Vast Mountain Roasting Co. shows off his goods.

Rainshadow Cafe provided lunch and snacks made from locally sourced ingredients, and brewed up some locally roasted coffee!

Ina Weber looks on as an attendee selects some seeds.

As always, there were seeds to buy and swap, the Lillooet Seed Lending Library, and a winnower for those wanting to winnow their own.

The Seed Swap!

This was the first year in the expanded Rec. Centre venue, and, thanks to the enthusiasm of our local artists, crafters and organizations, it was full of all kinds of booths and entertainment.

Eleanor Wright holds up a very large pollinator!

Seedy Sunday 2019 was a great success, and we look forward to the growing season and seeing what all those wonderful seeds become!

~ A Little Piece of Lillooet’s Agricultural History ~

Murray Park: History of Agriculture in SLRD Area B

Cast your bread upon the waters in Lillooet and it’ll come back studded  with fruit and nuts.” – Margaret “Ma” Murray, Lillooet B.C.

When the first road built into the Colony of British Columbia terminated at Lillooet in 1858, many who travelled it saw better opportunities farming & ranching in the area than in mining.  The town became Mile 0 of the Cariboo Road in 1862 and Lillooet grown produce became much in demand in the Cariboo goldfields, providing fodder for the hundreds of pack animals carrying supplies northward as well as to the miners at the end of their trek.

In 1861 the Martley family took over a ranch near Pavilion and named it the Grange.  The Grange shipped large quantities of beef, mutton, poultry and vegetables to the Cariboo. Combined with the historic Carson Ranch on Pavilion Plateau, the Grange is now owned by one of Canada’s largest suppliers of organic beef.
Jonathan Scott, a planter from Kentucky, farmed the upper bench across the Fraser after a nine-mile long flume/irrigation ditch from Fountain Lake was built that same year.  Miners were sorely missing tobacco, and for the next twenty years he sold plugs and cut tobacco straight off his presses.

By 1864, flour from Oregon cost $100 a sack in Lillooet.  Four enterprising investors built a mill and were supplied with grists from ranches surrounding Lillooet, producing high quality flour until 1908.

The first attempt to grow hops on the bench above the north end of town ended in failure but in 2009 two enterprising biologists succeeded and their vertical rows of eighteen foot high trellises can be seen across the river from here. Their ambition is to make Lillooet the organic hops capital of Canada.

The first grapes in the Lillooet area were grown at Fountain from cuttings sent from Italy in 1863. After experimental trials verified the superior terroir of Lillooet soils, our first commercial winery was established in 2009. Since then, Fort Berens has won many awards and medals.

Lillooet boasts B.C.’s best tomatoes. When Japanese Canadians were interned in East Lillooet during WWII, they shipped many train carloads of luscious sun-ripened Lillooet tomatoes to Vancouver. Connoisseurs of fine foods now come here every year and buy hundreds of kilos of tomatoes at the Old Airport Gardens for salsas, sauces and home canning.

Stone fruits, especially apricots, thrive in Lillooet. Trees dripping with fruit in the midsummer heat seem to be in every yard. Lillooet’s annual Apricot Tsaqwem Festival also honours native saskatoon berries, equally prolific and widely used by First Nations, eaten fresh or dried for storage.

Throughout SLRD Area B in the heart of the Fraser Canyon, historic West Pavilion, Bridge River, Yalakom, Fountain & Texas Creek farms and ranches are rising to meet a growing demand for healthy food. Local organic vegetables, fruits, garlic, honey, eggs and poultry are available in local shops or at the Lillooet Farmer’s Market every Friday on Main Street from May through to October.

We grow the best cantaloupes, grapes, peaches and apples that British Columbia has ever seen. Our alfalfa seed is second to none. Our beef has the best flavor and texture of any in the interior.”

– Dan Hurley 1936, Lillooet B.C.

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.