Michael Sather is the MLA for Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows and a great advocate for environmental conservation and local farms. Michael has been out to visit our farm to learn more about what we’re doing and he recently made a statement about our efforts, linking it to the need for more young people to take on farming roles in our communities, in the May 4th, 2011 debate of the BC Legislative Assembly.
You can watch Michael making his statement about Farm for a Year in this Hansard video (go to the 14:00 minute mark) and you can read it in this section of the report of the debate (scroll down a little to see his statement). I’ve also reprinted it below. (PS – I’m not actually Chantalle’s sister, but living together on the farm pretty much makes us family :).
From the 2011 Legislative Session: Third Session, 39th Parliament HANSARD
Official report of Debates of the Legislative Assembly, Wednesday, May 4, 2011, Afternoon Sitting, Volume 20, Number 13
FARM FOR A YEAR PROJECT
IN MAPLE RIDGE
M. Sather: The farming industry is comprised of an aging population these days, with the average age of a farmer in Canada being 60. There is a crucial need for young people to enter the field as more farmers are set to retire, and the opportunities to learn from a seasoned grower are diminishing. In an era of climate change, peak oil and rising prices it is necessary to localize food production, and young farmers will play a key role in this transition. That is why it is a breath of fresh air to know there are young people who have taken a risk and begun to farm.
A group of five people, average age 30, have started a project called Farm for a Year. Chris and Julie Moerman, Matt and Chantalle Moerman, and Chantalle’s sister Jocelyn Durston are working hard to convert 2½ acres in Maple Ridge to the status of an active farm. These young people join many other landowners in Maple Ridge who are converting their acreages into productive farms.
This picturesque property is being operated on the principles of permaculture for healthy, pesticide-free produce. On their farm you will find a chicken tractor,
a mobile chicken pen that allows the chickens to fertilize different beds. The farmers have a special interest in heritage and endangered chickens, such as the Russian Orloff and Chinese Silkie.
Because of its name, Farm for a Year may sound like a fleeting attempt at a hobby farm, but Chris assured me their family is invested in the property for years to come. Judging by their long-term projects — including planting fruit trees, evacuating a pond for fish and focusing on specialty crops such as garlic and mushrooms — they will be getting their hands dirty for a while.
One can only imagine the active rural childhoods that baby cousins Kai and Canaan will be fortunate enough to have. Don’t hesitate to check out their colourful website at www.farmforayear.com.
Michael, thank you so much for your ongoing efforts in the conservation of the environment and agriculture! Your work is so important and we are grateful that you are representing and supporting groups like ours that are trying to make a positive impact on the enivronment and our community.