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The Chilliwack Progress Friday, June 24, 2016

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The Chilliwack Progress Friday, June 24, 2016

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AGRICULTURE

Hop growing makes its return to Chilliwack Vanessa Broadbent THE PROGRESS

After taking a short hiatus, hop farming is returning to its former glory in Chilliwack. In the 50s and 60s Chilliwack was home to the largest hop farm in the world, owned by Fred Haas. At one time, the hop industry was the largest employer in the area, so much so that the Hop Yard Special, a train from Vancouver to Chilliwack for hop farm employees, was introduced. The employment opportunities attracted a significant amount of new Canadian citizens to relocate to the Chilliwack area. “Just about every one of them

started working in the hop farm,” John Lawrence, owner and CEO of Chilliwack Hop Farms explained. “A lot of people have started their lives in Chilliwack by working in a hop farm.”

than ever, with craft beer requiring 20 percent of hops produced worldwide.

But with the worldwide growth of hop farming, there was a surplus of hops, causing the cost to significantly decrease, and Haas sold his farm.

“It sounded good,” he said. “I thought of it as a retirement plan.”

A decade later, the hop farming industry has returned, with two hop farms in Chilliwack: Chilliwack Hop Farms and Sartori Hop Farm in Columbia Valley. With the up rise of microbreweries worldwide, and especially in the Pacific Northwest area, hops are in higher demand

17

Lawrence started the business after retiring, not expecting that it would be as successful it is today.

Currently, Chilliwack Hop Farms grows over 15 varieties of hops, and sells to over 100 breweries all over the world, including some in Alaska, China, and Russia. The business started with only 12 acres, and now has over 70 in Rosedale, Greendale, and Agassiz, and future plans include opening a microbrewery as well.

Chilliwack Hop Farms, which grows over 15 varieties of hops, and sells to over 100 breweries and now has over 70 acres in production in Rosdale, Greendale and Agassiz.

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Friday, June 24, 2016 The Chilliwack Progress

AGRICULTURE

Sprouting success at Anita’s Organic Mill Jennifer Feinberg THE PROGRESS

Anita’s Organic Mill is growing so much, they are spread out temporarily on several different sites across Chilliwack. “We are seeing a lot of growth, with our products now reaching across Canada,” said Taylor Gemmel, owner and manager of Anita’s Organic Mill. You can find Anita’s Organic Mill products at Local Harvest Market in Chilliwack, as well as some of big grocery chains, and many more. Anita’s has earned a solid reputation for a fabulous range of organic and kosher grains, stoneground and whole grain flours, ancient grains, cereals and mixes. “Honest, simple and consistent” is the tagline — and it’s also their recipe for success. “We focus on clean, healthy ingredients for home-bakers,” Gemmel said. That means grains, cereals and flours without synthetic chemicals or pesticides. They’ve seen recent spikes in retail sales, but also bulk products, said

Jayda Smith, Anita’s marketing and sales head. Some of their forward-looking growth can be attributed to the company’s penchant for innovation, she said. “We’re continuously looking at what is happening in the market and where things are going.” It’s connected to their growth and expansion. “A lot of it also has to do with brand awareness, and our consistency,” said Smith. “Our customers know we work directly with organic farmers to offer products that are freshly milled and head out quickly to the stores.” Through all the changes they’re also running out of space, said Gemmel. “We needed to expand, so we’ve taken on 9500 sq. ft. in Commercial Court for next month.” The offices are located at Yale Road location next to the 6000 sq. ft. mill, where they’ve been since 1990. Another 4000 sq. ft. manufacturing site is on Aitken Road, and they’re doing shipping and receiving from the site in Commercial Court. It is not as efficient as it could be

Taylor Gemmel, owner, and Jayda Smith, sales and marketing, of Anita’s Organic Mill in front of some of their cereal, grain and flour products at the offices on Yale Road. JENNIFER FEINBERG/ THE PROGRESS

being spread out, so they are hoping to consolidate in future into one building. They’ve introduced a line of “sprouted” products, where they maintain the integrity of the grain. They are in development for a new type of flour, Ezekiel Flour, with all sprouted ingredients like legumes and lentils, sprouted barley and sprouted wheat.

“The flavour profile is amazing with high protein levels,” Smith said about the new flour. More self-rising and blended flour mixes are coming too. All of that puts them on the forefront of the organic grains and flours industry in B.C. and across the country, by producing the highest quality products, cleaned to 99.9 per cent.

So what’s coming down the pike for Anita’s in 2016 and beyond? Lots! A new website is in the works. “I think we will continue to tell our story of Anita’s Organic Mill, and continue to add products,” said Gemmel. “We have built solid relationships with our farmers, we pay a fair price and we put out products that are second to none.”

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AGRICULTURE

New flavour coming next month for cheese lovers Jennifer Feinberg

Farm Cheese in 2010, and they’re getting ready for the their sixth year on the Circle Farm Tour.

Gouda cheese is still the star at Smits & Co.w Farm Cheese on Lickman Road.

“We’ve grown a lot,” she said, noting increases at both the retail and wholesale level. “It’s picking up now for the season.”

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It’s traditional gouda, mild, medium or aged. If more zest is needed try their varieties made with cloves, nettles, pepper, bear garlic or cumin. It’s all bound to be creamy and fresh. “It’s unbelievable the enthusiasm people have for cheese,” said co-owner Stephanie Smits.

There’s something about it that is quite addictive. People have an undying love for cheese

The self-guided Circle Farm Tour always brings in “enthusiastic” cheese lovers to try out their wares at the Lickman Road farm. “There’s something about it that is quite addictive,” she said. “People have an undying love for cheese.”

~ Stephanie Smits

People seek them out from all parts of the Lower Mainland, as well as Chilliwack for their farmmade gouda. Stephanie Smits and husband Ronald Smits opened Smits & Co.w

They raise a mixed herd of Holstein and Brown Swiss cows to produce excellent cheese. The milk from the dairy travels underground to the cheese plant, and eventually on display in the adjacent store. Through the years they have

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Ronald Smits, owner of Smits & Co.w Farm Cheese, addresses visitors from the Chilliwack Agricultural Tour 2013. The farm is a stop on the Circle Farm Tour which has become a source of enthusiastic cheese-lovers from all over the Lower Mainland. JENNIFER FEINBERG/ THE PROGRESS

tried out so many different ways to welcome their guests and clientele. They offer an astounding array of flavours of delectable Gouda, with samples to try in store, as well as a cup of coffee and sometimes a cookie to go with it. In season they’ll make some blueberry or cranberry varieties of Gouda, and they added goat cheese to their product

line a few years ago. They also carry some gourmet crackers, compotes, as well as meat from Verard Farms and Dutch import products. This year they are getting ready to unveil a brand-new cheese flavour: truffle. “We making it available for the store anniversary in July.” The goal is offering an

authentic agri-tourism experience for customers. “We have sample platters in our store, and a picnic table outside. I call it getting the farm experience. The kids can look at the cows and bunnies, and everyone can take a moment to look around.” Smits & Co.w Farm Cheese 5787 Lickman Road 604.824.9779

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AGRICULTURE

Friday, June 24, 2016 The Chilliwack Progress

Berryhill expansion into Chilliwack on target Jessica Peters THE PROGRESS

It’s looking like a good season for Fraser Valley berries, says Tom Phillips, general manager of Berryhill Foods. His company processes about 20 million pounds of berries a year, mostly blueberries. But this week it was all about the raspberry season, and those are looking better than he’s seen them in years. “It’s a great season,” he says. “The quality is as good as I’ve ever seen it. The raspberries especially love this cooler weather.” Berry lovers will recall that last year’s blueberries were essentially “cooked on the bush,” with record high temperatures. Phillips said that while the yield was lower they still managed to get a decent crop last year.

As Berryhill readies to open the first phase of its Chilliwack expansion, this year’s berry crop is showing promise, says general manager Tom Phillips.

This year, there are even more exciting things blooming at Berryhill. They’re expanding from Abbotsford into

Chilliwack. The company deals in “individually quick frozen” berries, storing and packaging them for sale in Canada, the United States and Asia. For about 23 years, they have operated in Abbotsford. But they have just about completed the first phase of construction of a 35,000 square foot facility on Kerr Avenue. They broke ground last fall and the project is right on track, Phillips said this week, thanks largely to the help and guidance he’s received from the City of Chilliwack. “The City is fantastic,” he says. “They’ve been very supportive along the way.” It’s been an easy relationship for him with city staff, which is the main reason he’s expanded his Abbotsfordbased business here. While the cold storage facility will bring more berries to Chilliwack — about five million pounds — the second phase of the facility will bring jobs. Phillips expects to require

about 20 workers in the peak of the berry season each year as they haul in their crops. “We take them from the field, wash and inspect them and then flash freeze them,” he says. “They get laser sorted and metal detected and packaged destined for market in Asia, the United States and Canada.” Chilliwack and Abbotsford are in the heart of the largest blueberry growing region in North America, he said. “It’s the weather conditions here, the mild climate,” Phillips explains. “It really works well for growing blueberries.” The blueberry industry in North America has grown to production levels totaling over a billion pounds. British Columbia is the largest producer of cultivated blueberries in North America, with production over 150 million pounds. Growth is expected to reach 200 million pounds in the near future, with about 95 per cent of that production occurring in the Fraser Valley.

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The Chilliwack Progress Friday, June 24, 2016

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Shoppers were circling the flats at SKT Farmers Market this week looking for the best in produce. Signs lined Yale Road to bring customers in for ‘Farm Fresh Blueberries,’ ‘Fresh Sweet Okanagan Cherries,’ and ‘Local Raspberries’ – a sure indication that summer has arrived.

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Friday, June 24, 2016 The Chilliwack Progress

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The Chilliwack Progress Friday, June 24, 2016

is pleased to salute the efforts of

Dairy & Agricultural Industries in the Fraser Valley.

down, sometimes they have to wait two or three weeks just for someone to come and service it, even if it was a simple fix, and they couldn’t afford to wait that long.”

from page 22

The program works alongside UFV’s Agriculture Centre of Excellence, which opened at UFV’s Canada Education Park campus in April 2014. “We have interaction with our agriculture department, but also with local companies who have agriculture equipment, and farmers as well,” Bachar said. “ a good example of automation in agriculture would be West Coast Robotics, they supply and service robotic milking machines.” Bachar also noted that the program is in demand in the Fraser Valley as there currently isn’t a lot of support for automated farming equipment. “There’s a big need throughout the entire Lower Mainland,” he said. “A lot of farmers here were initially very reluctant to introduce technology into their farming, just because there weren’t any services or tech support to support them. If anything goes

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By increasing the amount of professionals working in the area, Bachar predicts an increase in automated farming in the Fraser Valley.

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“If [farmers] know that they can get a response in one or two days, they’re more inclined to try it out and see if it works for them, knowing that if there is a problem, they don’t have to wait so long and lose revenue over two or three weeks,” he said. “With that respect, there is definitely a need because I don’t think there’s enough support there. The program just finished its first year and won’t be offered again until September of 2017. “We completed our first year run and now we’re taking a break accepting applications for 2017” Bachar said.

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Friday, June 24, 2016 The Chilliwack Progress

AGRICULTURE

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John Guliker wades into a bright red sea of cranberries during last year’s harvest in Chilliwack. B.C. is one of the largest suppliers of cranberries in North America. SAM BATES/ THE PROGRESS

Cranberries add new colour to Chilliwack’s agriculture palette The annual cranberry harvest in Chilliwack is a breathtaking sight. When local farmers flood the fields and paint the landscape ruby red, drivers along the highway slow down to catch the beauty as the floating berries glisten in the sun.

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John Guliker and his team from Better Berries farm off Chilliwack Central Road spend hours slowly wading through the

knee-high water of the 36 acre bog. It was October, in time for Thanksgiving, when Better Berries harvested 210 barrels per acre to then be cleaned, sorted and stored for processing with Ocean Spray. With 6,500 acres of cranberry bogs, B.C. is the fourth largest North American cranberry supplier for Ocean Spray, after Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Quebec.

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The Chilliwack Progress Friday, June 24, 2016

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25

AGRICULTURE

From the archived pages of the Chilliwack Progress

Chilliwack’s hop culture history Jessica Peters THE PROGRESS

Cultivating hops in Chilliwack started out as a bit of an experiment in agriculture, but one that quickly grew into a massive local industry. In the late 1800s, a handful of local farmers plotted out small parcels to try their hand at the crops. They had heard of success in Washington, California and England, and these pioneering farmers were eager to find a profitable crop. They tried different varieties, often sent here by ship from Kent, England, known as “the centre of the English hop growing industry.” They battled off various insects with compounds they discovered themselves, and had agriculture dignitaries visit farms to give out advice and share news from other regions. And all of theses successes and failures were chronicled thoroughly through this newspaper.

Since 1891

Not deterred, a man named Henry Hulbert bought several acres from Adam Vedder in Sardis, planted hops, built a house and planned for more. The Progress at the time noted him as a “shrewd business man” who intended to pursue hop raising extensively. (Aug. 29, 1894) Again, that rang true, as Hulbert went on to build one of the largest hop farms in Chilliwack. So did E. Clemons Horst. In September of 1912, the E. Clemens Horst Hop Company would employ about 600 people to handpick their crops. The workers were typically Hindu, Chinese and aboriginal. As the field sizes grew, taking over the lands in Sardis, Yarrow and Agassiz — and the very fertile, drained Sumas Prairie — hop harvesting played a growing role in shaping the community.

Other farmers are expected to follow suit, and soon Chilliwack will be known as the hop fields of the Pacific Coast

The First Nation communities were the first hop pickers, and entire families would leave their local villages to live in tents on the fields through September and into October.

The beerflavouring flower showed early promise, and as excitement grew, so The pay was ~ Chilliwack Progress, considered profitable did the size of the crops. The pride in at that time, for May 28, 1891 the Fraser Valley’s the work involved. ability to produce There were young aboriginal girls quality hops was making an average evident in countless of three dollars a editorials printed in day, with some of the best adult The Chilliwack Progress through pickers making four dollars a day. the decades.

Group portrait of hop pickers on the Haas hop yards in Sardis, 1942. (P5759)

Photo courtesy of Chilliwack Museum

and Archives.

“Hop culture in this district is going to become a profitable industry for farmers. Mr. T. Dunville, of this place, has planted five acres of his land with this crop and the young shoots are growing very fast and promised a fair yield this season. Other farmers are expected to follow suit, and soon Chilliwack will be known as the hop fields of the Pacific Coast.” —Chilliwack Progress, May 28, 1891 The editor of the day must have had a crystal ball. A few decades later, the hops industry had flourished so well here that thousands were employed in the industry, annually cultivating hundreds of acres of hops. The Progress paid close attention to how crops were being managed in other areas. That same year, the dreaded hop louse was ravaging vines and threatening whole crops. Farmers were hopeful that a remedy made in France, a solution of quassia chips and whale oil soap, would exterminate the “ravaging insects.” In Sacramento, the paper reported, a small red spider was appearing in large numbers, and beginning to destroy crops.

And everyone in the community kept close watch on the profit margins of the crops, as the wellemployed pickers provided a boost to the local economy. “They are good spenders of money, and the cash paid out for their wages is in a large measure spent in the valley at the stores, buying blankets and colored cloth, or anything else that may take their fancy. All the stores do a thriving trade while the Indians are here, and several of the merchants, have temporary branches of their business at the hop fields during the time that the picking season is in full swing.” - Chilliwack Progress, Sept . 4, 1912. Children as young as 10 years old were out working the fields daily, and farmers enticed entire families to come to work, promising social comforts like daycare, a dance hall, and even free produce: “Hop Pickers Wanted by Canadian Hop Growers Limited, Sumas Prairie on Yale road. Free rooms, free wood and free potatoes. About thirty days continuous work. Free children’s nursery, dance and amusement hall.” - Chilliwack Progress, July 14, 1927

View of large hop kiln at the Haas hop yards, 1938. (P2003 30 8) Photo courtesy of Chilliwack Museum and Archives.

The following year, Mennonite families also began migrating to the area, in part to work the hops fields. Many of them settled in Yarrow, and that community began to thrive. While it was temporary work, the labour pool needed grew from hundreds to thousands. In the fall of 1932, the hop crops gave employment to about 1800 people, men, women and children. Just as the early farmers in the area experimented with crop growing techniques, farmers through the mid-1900s began experimenting with machinery. There were a few failed attempts, and expensive machinery sat unused as pickers continued to do the work. At one point, up to 4,000 people were out in the fields harvesting the crop that would be shipped elsewhere along the Fraser River to be used in beer

brewing. Another key player in the hops industry was John I. Haas, who purchased all of the assets of Chilliwack’s hops growers to become the sole grower in the area. (The Chilliwack Story, Ron Denman) That was in the late 1950s, when machinery really began to outpace even the best pickers. The Haas farm at one point was the only hops producer in all of Canada, and the largest in the British Commonwealth. But after the culture surrounding hand-picking of hops died out, so too did the hype around hops. In 1997, the John I. Haas Company’s land was listed with Colliers International for sale. It was an impressive 1.326-acres and as such, the largest land sale in Chilliwack’s history.

Special Features - Outlook Agriculture 2016  

i20160623165313234.pdf

Special Features - Outlook Agriculture 2016  

i20160623165313234.pdf