Ants are farmed, bananas destined for the landfill are fed to pigs, and goats are milked for hand-crafted cheeses. All this, and then some, were discovered on the Township of Langley’s annual farm tour in late October.
With a theme of innovation in agriculture, stops on the tour included the unique, forward-thinking activities happening locally.
The first stop was Enterra Feeds where black soldier flies are creating new sources of fertilizer as well as feed. CEO Brad Marchant explained how pre-consumer waste food is fed to the indigenous insects to “take food and remake food.”
“We’re making a replacement for fish meal, chicken meal, and soybean meal,” Marchant said. “It’s about 40 percent protein and 40 percent fat.”
While the Enterra feeds are not yet available in Canada, they are being used south of the border. Enterra fertilizer is sold in Canada.
A stop at Milner Valley Cheese included tastings of a wide range of goat cheeses and gelato and a tour of the goat dairy with co-owner Glenn Smith.
“We are very small scale, family run agriculture,” said Smith.
As fourth generation farmers, Smith and his wife Maryanne knew they had to create something unique to keep the farm alive.
“We’ve had people drive out from West Van for our cheese,” Smith said.
Over lunch, innovation was discussed in terms of how to get more non-farmers involved in farming. Chris Bodnar of Close to Home Organics spoke and noted that while there is a lot of interest, there is not a lot of understanding of the issues or challenges farmers face.
“I’ve met a lot of people along the way who’ve given it [farming] a try and stepped back from it,” he said.
“There are barriers that make it difficult to get into agriculture.”
Bodnar suggested a new model is needed to protect farmland and encourage co-operatives to combat those challenges.
The final stop of the tour was at Aldergrove’s Laurica Farm where co-owner Cathy Finley explained how 70 per cent of what is seen on the farm in terms of structures is created from reclaimed materials.
“You can run a farm off reclaimed materials,” she said.
Even the heritage pigs are fed reclaimed food.
“What would go to the land fill is fed to the pigs,” Finley noted. “They get no commercially created feed at all.”
Clearly farming is alive, well, and growing in the Langleys with a healthy sense of innovation.