Farms Get Support to Face Climate Change

(Columbia Basin) – The Columbia Basin benefits from the wide range of food that is grown right in the region. Now, 26 farms are strengthening their abilities to adapt to and be more resilient to the impacts of climate change with support from Columbia Basin Trust.

“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.”

The program was open to farms and First Nations that grow grains, vegetables, fruit or forage; produce honey; or raise livestock for meat, dairy or eggs.

Projects fit in four general categories. This includes adding solar panels to generate electricity or doing energy retrofits to improve a farm’s energy efficiency, such as adding roof insulation or heat pumps to farm buildings. It also includes adapting to climate change impacts, such as adding shade to protect crops or livestock, or improving site drainage. Finally, it could involve reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as switching to electric machinery. Learn more at ourtrust.org/farmSMART.

The Trust is providing over $1 million to support 28 projects. To see all recipient, visit here. Here are a few examples:

Focusing on winter growth

Located in Wycliffe, Apple Quill Farm grows crops as diverse as raspberries, garlic, beets and tomatoes, sold on-site and at nearby farmers’ markets. It’s installing a solar array, in-ground radiant tube heating system, thermal curtain and shade cloth.

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

Better irrigation for better forage

On the edge of Cranbrook, Jordan Thibeault raises cattle and sheep, plus grows feed and hay for livestock. He is upgrading the irrigation system for these forage crops.

“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,” said Thibeault. “Also, the improved pumping system will allow us to use less electricity for every gallon of water pumped.”

Securing a sustainable future

This coming summer will mark Salix and Sedge Farm’s 10th season of operation. To ensure it continues sustainably into the future, the farm near Salmo is installing a solar array and buying two hoop houses.

“The solar array will improve our farm's energy efficiency by generating renewable solar electricity,” said Brendan Parsons, Co-owner. “The hoop houses will increase our climate resiliency by allowing us to grow more food earlier and later in the season, as well as protect our crops from extreme weather events such as hail, windstorms and unseasonable frosts.”

Cherry orchards go electric

Around since 1935, Shukin Orchards boasts over 280 acres of cherry orchards in the Creston Valley, with four varieties of cherries shipped worldwide. It is replacing gas tractors by buying four electric tractors.

“Adopting electric tractors will help with decreasing the amount of fossil fuels our farm uses on a daily basis, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and creating less noise pollution within farming communities,” said Ken Shukin, President. “Electric tractors offer a viable solution for farmers who are looking to reduce their environmental impact and still increase profitability.”

Keeping the farm well watered

Originating in the mid-1930s, Nelson’s Sitkum Creek Farms benefited from new owners in 2015, who have expanded from garlic into offerings like pumpkins, honey and eggs. It is upgrading its irrigation infrastructure.

“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.”

Columbia Basin Trust supports the efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1.800.505.8998.