The Citizen’s new publisher was blown away to learn that there are more than 700 farms in the Cowichan Valley.
But much of the editorial team has been doing the annual agriculture and food edition since 2009, and the scope of farming and food in Cowichan comes as much less of a surprise, though we’re always in awe.
We have seen a lot change over the years, and we’d venture to say there’s been an astounding amount of growth, not just in farm numbers, but in the profile of farming in the Cowichan Valley.
Farmers and food producers don’t just affect the agriculture industry. They are intrinsically tied to the restaurant business and tourism. In fact, we’d call them cornerstones, every bit as much as our trails and whale watching and Chemainus murals.
Since the inception of this special edition of the paper we’ve seen huge growth in the Duncan Farmers Market as a destination, a place to take your guests from out of town that will have them exclaiming in delight, and a shopping mecca.
The farming community has sadly lost the likes of Russell Stewart of Russell Farms Market, and Brock McLeod of Makaria Farm in the last year. The Old Farm Market on the highway heading out of Duncan has been sold to new owners.
We’ve profiled folks that are now retiring from the industry, such as at Sweet Pickins blueberry farm and Fairburn Farm with its water buffalo dairy.
We sincerely hope to see these iconic Valley plots taken over by enthusiastic new faces who will love them (and the water buffalo) every bit as much as those who are leaving them behind.
Egg and dairy industries continue to thrive, even as they face potential trade uncertainty, and it’s up, up, up for the wine, beer and spirits sector.
When it comes to farming, Cowichan is on the leading edge of local, sustainable, and all-out success.