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Columbia Basin Trust provides $1 million to 26 farms around region

Funding aims to support farms becoming more resilient in face of climate change
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Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) is providing over $1 million in funding to 28 projects in an effort to support the area’s farms as they work to become more resilient in the face of climate change.

“These farms are taking this opportunity to more confidently address the challenges associated with climate change,” said Justine Cohen, Manager, Delivery of Benefits, Columbia Basin Trust. “The benefits will also stretch beyond the climate, including helping to ensure that people in the region have access to locally produced food and supporting businesses that provide local livelihoods.”

Apple Quill Farm, owned by Marie-Eve Fradette and located in Wycliffe, grows diverse crops including raspberries, garlic, beets and tomatoes, all of which are sold either on site or at farmers’ markets. They will be receiving $42,000 to install a solar array, as well as an in-ground radiant tube heating system, a thermal curtain and a shade cloth.

“With a changing climate and unpredictable summer heat waves, consistent local produce throughout the year is food security at its best,” Fradette said.

“In the cooler season, more effectively warming and maintaining the growing environment increases plant growth, reduces plant stress and lengthens our growing season. Plus, going solar aligns with our values, reducing our carbon footprint.”

This program was made available to farms and First Nations who grow grains, vegetables, fruit or forage, produce honey, or raise livestock for meat, dairy or eggs. The projects fit into four categories, including adding solar panels to generate electricity or doing energy retrofits. It could also involve reducing greenhouse gas emissions through purchasing electric machinery.

READ MORE: Kootenay trails get boost from Columbia Basin Trust

The funding may also be used to purchase implements to shade crops or livestock, or improve site drainage.

Jordan Thibeault, who raises cows and sheep, is one of four Cranbrook farms receiving funding. Thibeault will use $28,000 in funding to complete an irrigation infrastructure upgrade.

“While enabling us to produce a more healthy and productive forage crop, our project will increase our climate adaption by allowing us to use less water by reducing evaporation,” he said. “Also, the improved pumping system will allow us to use less electricity for every gallon of water pumped.””

Sitkum Creek Farms near Nelson was first started in the 1930s and came under new ownership in 2015. The new owners expanded the crops from just garlic to include pumpkins, honey and eggs. They will receive $28,600 to complete an irrigation infrastructure upgrade.

“Improving watering efficiency and ensuring that water gets delivered adequately will help us maintain current operations in light of climate change, plus enable our farm to grow,” said Catherine Rice, owner. “In addition, increased local food production will increase local food security and diversity, reducing reliance on imports.”

To learn more about this funding and other projects supported by CBT, visit ourtrust.org

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