Langley's agricultural based businesses generate about $277 million a year in revenue. Agriculture is big business and while some may think of it as the cows in the field or berries on vines, there is another aspect in getting that food to the consumer.
Each year, the Langley Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) invites a number of participants on a farm tour to educate, explain, and discuss elements of unique interest in the farming and local communities.
This year's theme was the food supply chain with stops at EV Logistics Warehouses, Coast Cranberries, and Krause Berry Farms and lunch with speakers at the Langley Golf and Banquet Centre.
The morning was opened by Township Mayor Jack Froese.
"Everything we do in agriculture is to prepare food to eat," Froese said.
"Every piece of agriculture is important."
One of the AAC members, Dave Melnychuk, addressed the group during the luncheon of the Sept. 12 tour.
"Every year, I learn something," Melnychuk said. "There's so much to learn it's so exciting, but we're starting to learn."
Melnychuk's biggest enthusiasm was for the recently approved Agricultural Viability Study.
This 104 page document was four years in the making and solicited a widerange of responses from residents, farmers, processors, and other stakeholders.
"The support for agriculture is overwhelming," Melnychuk said. He added of the document, "It's very comprehensive, well laid out, and has timelines for the next 20 years."
The strategy, which identifies ways for the Township to support agriculture, was unanimously approved by Council on July 15.
First stop on the tour was the 316,000 square foot home of EV Logistics. This building in Gloucester Industrial Park features 11 separate temperature controlled rooms from an ice cream room to a room specifically for bananas, and even a tomato room.
EV Logistics deals with approximately 5,000 active SKUs and serves the Overwaitee Food Group.
The second stop was focused on just one fruit - the cranberry. Founded in 1980 Coast Cranberries grows 300 acres of the berries with a large amount being shipped overseas frozen or as juice.
The site sees five million pounds of berries go through the facility each year and employs 16 people full-time, year round.
The keynote luncheon speaker, Dr. Sean Smukler of UBC, spoke about the complexities of the food chain.
"It's a very complex system," he said. "It worries me. I know how much water there is out there, how much food there is out there, and how much fertilizer there is out there. Not only do we have to increase productivity, but we have to do so with less."
The tour's final stop was at Krause Berry Farms and Estate Winery with a focus on the new wine making facility.
Owner Alf Krause, discussed the challenges inherent in farming.
"There's never a shortage of issues in agriculture," he said.
The focus of the Krause farm is to sell as much of what is produced on site from the farm as possible. Currently, 100 different items are made at the Krause's farm in the North Otter area.
With more than 49 per cent of all farms in Metro Vancouver in Langley, it's natural to see continuous advancements, and complexities, in getting that food to consumers.
@ Copyright 2013