Tables full of local farmers and agriculture specialists filled the tables at the first ever Agro Connect conference in Dawson Creek last week. Manavpreet Singh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Some local farmers and agriculture specialists participated in the first-ever Agro Connect conference in Dawson Creek last week to enhance agricultural growth in the Peace region. 

The conference was held at Ovintiv Event Centre on February 10th, 2023, to promote sustainable energy-efficient agricultural practices with a focus on local economic needs.

Hosted by NKC Marketing and Community Futures Peace Liard, the event featured a variety of topics ranging from food security and energy innovation methods to discussions on alternative growing practices and agrotourism. 

Event coordinator Natasha Cortes believes the agricultural conference is essential in finding solutions to the challenges being faced regarding food security and climate change. 

The participants of this conference were from different disciplines, therefore, everybody learned from each other by sharing their ideas. 

“By bringing experts from different backgrounds, local farmers can understand the farming practices from various perspectives such as energy innovation, agrotourism, and sustainable seed production,” said Cortes.

Stuart Oke, a keynote speaker on food security, emphasized the importance of agroecology — a type of farming without harming nature. He added that agroecology could be sustained only through collective efforts from the government and local social organizations. 

“Everything is political. We must work collectively to transform our land,” said Oke.

He believes agricultural practices and knowledge sharing for food producers should be intergenerational and create social networks for self-sustainable agroecology.

A highlight of the energy panel discussion was the First Nation-owned geothermal project in Fort Nelson. Upon completion, the Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal plant will be the first geothermal electricity facility in B.C. and among the first in Canada.

Taylor Behn-Tsakoza, a Fort Nelson First Nation member, highlighted the importance of First Nations history in the Peace region and their role in preserving the landscape.

“The geothermal project represents the struggle and the Indigenous community’s collective strength to preserve their sacred land,” said Behn- Tsakoza.

“Our future lies with our stories, and we want to shape our stories,” said Tsakoza. 

Another keynote speaker, Tiffany Traverse, explained the importance of rare Indigenous seeds and native food species, which must be preserved to fight climate issues.

She believes it is vital for farmers to adapt to modern technology. Still, traditional farming methods and native species must be preserved to enhance soil productivity, said Traverse.

The conference concluded with panel experts on agrotourism. According to the Organic Research Centres Alliance, agrotourism is people visiting farms or other agricultural operations “for the purpose of enjoyment, education or other active involvement.” 

Agrotourism is a growing sector locally, with some farms looking to expand their operations to include cabins for visitors to stay overnight, said Cortes.

After the success of this conference, the organizers claim that they want to host more meetings like these in the future, focusing on organic agricultural practices to create more economic opportunities in the region.

By Manavpreet Singh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 13, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Fort St. John, British Columbia

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