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Agri-conference set for 2023

Focus on food security, growing techniques, and alternative energy for agriculture
Food security will be one of the topics of discussion at an agricultural conference planned for February 2023 in Dawson Creek.

It's being billboarded as the first annual, of what organizers hope, will become a yearly and regionally-participated event.

The Agro Connect Conference and Agricultural Market is being planned for the weekend of February 11-12, 2023 in Dawson Creek.

“About four years ago, I had the idea to put on this market. Essentially, what I wanted to do was to provide a platform,” explained event organizer Natasha Cortes.

“We have lots of farms, micro-farms, lots of new agriculture popping up in our area and I wanted to bridge our farmers with our community by way of a market...strengthening that connection.”

But the concept has since grown.

“As I started to chat with some other people, with Fran and Sue at Community Futures, we thought it would be great to bring in an educational and networking aspect.”

Cortes is a big-believer of food security and another reason why she feels the conference and market is important to have.

“Obviously, over the last couple of years, it has been more on the minds of people, especially where their food is coming from.”

The two-day event will feature different panel discussions – one of those, she said, will be on alternative energy sources like wind, solar, and geo-thermal.

“We'll also be doing a session on alternative growing,” Cortes said. “Focusing on things like vertical growing...perma-culture. Our other panel will be on agri-tourism. I know we have had some farmers who have done a 'bang up' job. They're pretty humble, when talking to them, but it's something we haven't focused on as a region. I would love to see it flourish.”

The conference and market has already garnered the support of two local councils.

“We think this is a very positive and great idea. Obviously, agriculture has always been that foundational industry for all of us,” said Dawson Creek mayor Dale Bumstead.

“Innovative, creative, agricultural food production is always good.”

Taylor mayor Rob Fraser agrees.

“It's a great opportunity for the producers in the area to come together and start talking about the agricultural industry, as a whole, in the region,” said Fraser, who believes there's a potential for a burgeoning horticultural industry here in the Peace.

“Particularly, vegetables (grown) locally, to add more food security. I think there's a market north of Taylor...Fort St. John, even up into the Yukon and Alaska. If we can sell tomatoes here from Israel, surely we can sell tomatoes from Taylor.”

Organizers have asked for, and will receive letters of support, from both Dawson Creek and Taylor councils as it looks to secure additional regional, provincial, and federal funding for the event.