The Horse Lake Farm Co-Op won’t be hosting the annual Seedy Saturday this year but is still willing and able to provide locals support and knowledge.
The annual B.C. event, slated for Feb. 19-21, is moving online across the province this year due to COVID-19. Attendees will still have a chance to connect with B.C. community organizations, seed businesses and non-profits all while learning about the importance of food sustainability and the joys of gardening.
Rod Hennecker, chair of the Co-Op, said one of the tenants of Seedy Saturday is food security, a value that he said is close to both his heart and that of the co-op, which typically sponsors the event every year at the Creekside Senior’s Centre.
The event had offered the chance to connect with the community and fundraise to support the farm.
“It’s been the first thing in the spring and a very popular event, a lot of people are getting into gardening,” Hennecker said.
This year it is being organized by FarmFolk CityFolk and will include keynote speakers, virtual sessions on seed saving and gardening education, a movie screening, Q&A’s with master gardeners, poetry readings and more. The event will be a mix of paid and free events, with more details on registration available on bcseeds.org.
Hennecker noted the pandemic has curtailed many of the events they usually hold throughout the year, although they were able to hold an online auction last fall, which ended up doing quite well. Both the public and co-op members donated 60 items of all kinds for auction, which really made up for all they’ve missed this year, including Seedy Saturday, which typically raises between $2,000 to $3,000 to go toward developing the co-op, maintenance and paying for the land.
Thankfully, Hennecker said, the farm should be okay financially this year thanks to last year’s online fundraiser.
The Horse Lake Farm Co-Op will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this year from when the community came together with the Land Conservancy of B.C. to preserve the property for agriculture. Hennecker, who has lived and farmed on the co-op land since the 90s, and his partner Karen Greenwood, led this push.
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Shares in the co-op can be bought for $5,000 apiece which may seem like a lot, he said, but entitles them to many perks including first dibs on any food produced in the property and the ability to farm the land themselves, provided they have a sound proposal for the board.
“Our membership varies quite a bit from doctors, care aids, farmers, wannabe farmers, teachers, retired people, young people and we’ve said from the beginning that getting into agriculture is an expensive proposition now in B.C.,” Hennecker said. “Farmland is very expensive so for the low-low price of only $5,000 you don’t have the burden of paying for an expensive piece of land and get your feet wet in farming and see what it’s all about and perhaps get into it.”
Currently, there are three farmers actively using the co-op, including 100 acres of pasture land for a rancher, Hennecker and Greenwood’s own herd of sheep and flock of chickens, and a two-acre large market garden where they and another member grow potatoes, carrots and more for sale at the South Cariboo Farmer’s Market.
Hennecker said beyond food security, the co-op is a valuable asset for the community in that it’s a great way to educate people about agriculture and what farm life is like. Not to mention they sponsor local community gardens, attend fairs and support the South Cariboo Farmer’s Market.
He is hopeful some young farmers will come along in the future to start helping out at the co-op and encourages the community to reach out and give them a call if they have any questions about gardening or farming at 250-395-3580.