BELLA COOLA VALLEY SUSTAINABLEAGRICULTURAL SOCIETYBELLA COOLA VALLEYFOODSHED ANALYSIS PROJECT (2007)FINAL REPORTBella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural SocietyP.O. Box 326, Bella Coola, B.C. VOT 1CO Tel 250.799.5291 [email protected] 2008

Financial support for this project was provided in part by the InvestmentAgriculture Foundation of British Columbia, through programs funded bythe Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia.Financial support for this project was also provided in part by theReal Estate Foundation of British Columbia.Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysisi

Executive SummaryThe Bella Coola Valley Foodshed Analysis Project began as a collaborative discussion. It thendeveloped tactics towards reestablishing a local food system suitable for a rural northern groupof settlements. A community‐based approach to identify the agricultural resource base wasadopted, with a focus on increasing consumption, productive capacity and enhancingawareness and support.The foodshed concept is similar to the notion of a watershed, but applied to food systems.With this concept in mind, the project increased the awareness and understanding of thisapproach, facilitated the development of a sustainable local food system, and increasedproductive capacity. Agricultural opportunity workshops provided forums for sharing projectfindings and agricultural knowledge.An agriculture use inventory, soils inventory, land capability for agriculture crop suitabilitystudies were completed. The soils and agricultural use maps provided a foundation for ValleyGlobal Information System (GIS) resource information. The project determined approximately6000 hectares were within the study area. As a result of these efforts, the structure of theactual and potential land‐based food production system became more clearly defined.The study found a significant land base comprised of some of the highest capability soils, and aclimate that could produce a wide range of agricultural and food crops. High, moderate or lowcrop suitability ratings were applied for each of the climatically suited crops or crop groupings.Based on the better than Class 1 climate of the Valley, climatically suited crops weredetermined. Yields and reliability for some crops limit their suitability to small scale, home orhobby garden production.An active connection to food production activities was documented: 790 sites were inventoriedand food production activity point data recorded, 82 with agriculture as a primary activity. Ageneralized land use survey was conducted to identify polygons having agriculture as a primaryor secondary activity. There are a range of food production activities, such as small orchards,blueberry plantings, roadside fruit and vegetable stands, commercial nurseries, a beekeepingoperation, and specialty livestock‐hobby farms.While present production scales may not indicate significant commercial activity, they aresubstantial contributors to household consumption, have positive food security implications,and indicate skill levels and interest in market‐scale production and processing. Moreover,there is interest in further development of commercial agricultural and agri‐food opportunities.The tactics pursued thus far are preliminary and require further local capacity development,promotion and market analyses in order to increase food production, consumption, processingand distribution.Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysisii

AcknowledgementsThe Bella Coola Valley Foodshed Analysis Project was a multi‐faceted and multi‐year endeavour.It was a team effort that involved a great many partners. While unable to acknowledge all byname, the Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society wishes to thank all thoseindividuals and organizations who contributed to the success of the project.Sincere appreciation goes to the Foodshed Analysis Committee (Gary Runka, Chair andmembers David Anderson, Barney Kern and Paul Grace‐Campbell) for the countless volunteerhours contributed, and for the valuable collaboration that the Food Action Plan ImplementationCommittee members provided. The Central Coast Regional District assisted with TRIM mapbases and in‐kind support, including staff time.We are grateful for the funding provided in part by the Investment Agriculture Foundation ofBritish Columbia, through programs funded by Government of Canada, and the Province ofBritish Columbia and in part by the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.With the support of University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Faculty of Land and Food Systems,DeLisa Lewis, Project Facilitator and Doctoral Student, completed the agriculture and foodproduction inventory and coordinated the community workshops. We thank her for: sharingher knowledge, keeping the community informed, and carrying out hands‐on project outreachwith Valley farmers, in addition to her work on the agricultural use map, associatedspreadsheet and technical report and the crop suitability report.The professional expertise of Dr. Terence Lewis, who completed the soils survey, compileddetailed soils descriptions, interpreted land capability for agriculture ratings, contributed to thecrop suitability framework, and provided the scientific foundation for our work; was invaluableand much appreciated.Thanks also to Gary Runka and Joan Sawicki for their volunteer hours spent to produce the cropsuitability interpretations and augment the generalized land use inventory. We are indebted toHans Granander of Frontier Resource Management for his diligence and commitment to makingthe Bella Coola Valley Foodshed Analysis data availability as GIS documents.Finally, thanks goes to Bella Coola Valley residents who contributed to this project, whetherthrough assisting in the workshops and garden tours, working on establishing micro‐ climateweather stations or sharing their food producing knowledge and experience.Public support and participation in this project were essential to its success.Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysisiii

Table of ContentsFunding Agency AcknowledgementsExecutive SummaryParticipant AcknowledgementsTable of ContentsAppendixiiiiiiivvIntroductionStudy Proponent ‐ Organizational ProfileStudy Context112Project Overview33Soil Fertility and Irrigation Water SamplingPreambleMethodologySynopsis and Significant Findings3.3.1 Soil Fertility Testing Results3.3.2 Irrigation Water Testing44555Foodshed Analysis: Soils and Agricultural Use InventoriesMethodologyGlobal Information System (GIS) Mapping4.2.1 Agricultural Use Inventory4.2.2 Soils Inventory4.2.3 Land Capability for Agriculture Mapping4.2.4 Crop Suitability MappingSynopsis and Significant Findings4.3.1 Synopsis4.3.2 Significant Findings4.3.3 Micro‐climate Weather Station Installation4.3.4 Bella Coola Valley Crop Suitability Report6778991011111212Foodshed Analysis: Capacity DevelopmentCapacity DevelopmentAgricultural Workshops & Forums14156Conclusion177The Next Steps ‐ Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysisiv

AppendixA.1A.2Agricultural Use Inventory – Map 1Agricultural Use Inventory – Map 21920B.1B.2B.3Soils Inventory Map – Map 1Soils Inventory Map – Map 2Legend and Data Spreadsheet212223Climate Data Review25Land Capability for Agriculture – Map 1Land Capability for Agriculture – Map 22627Bella Coola Valley Crop Suitability Report28F.1F.2Crop Suitability Map – Map 1Crop Suitability Map – Map 23738GBibliography39HWeb Resources42CD.1D.2EBella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysisv

Chapter 1Introduction1.1Study Proponent - Organizational ProfileThe Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society (BCVSAS) is a four‐year‐old, BCregistered, non‐profit society with a vision to enhance local production and consumption ofnutritious foods within a framework of sustainability. Membership is comprised of NuxalkNation members, local government, healthcare professionals and members from the civiccommunity, who share concerns related to our unique social, economic and environmentalhealth.BCVSAS envisions the Bella Coola Valley producing nutritious foods sustainably, inorder to create socioeconomic benefits for our communities and environment.The mission is to facilitate the development of a sustainable local food system by buildingcommunity capacity, in order to achieve community socioeconomic wellness.BCVSAS is committed to facilitating the development of sustainable agricultural enterprises. Byutilizing traditional knowledge with respect to our cultural diversity, we will build communitycapacity in cooperation with our neighboring communities and learning institutions.Organizational goals include: enhancing community wellness and nutrition through locallyproduced agricultural products, increasing awareness that agriculture is a significantcontributor to our local economy and a renewable resource; preserving an adequate land baseand developing an infrastructure for sustainable land use; and, creating viable markets forexisting and prospective agricultural and agri‐food entrepreneurs.1.2 Study ContextA foodshed can be defined as simply, “the place where we live and eat" (Kloppenburg, 1996,p.14). Throughout North American communities, foodshed studies have taken root as a meansof tracing the local, seasonal flow of food that might be produced in a particular region. CornellUniversity researchers assert the following with respect to the investigation of a foodshed:When agricultural production potential is linked to health-related nutritional needs ofhumans, the local land resource base, and the local population's demands for food, thestructure of actual and possible food production systems that both protect theenvironment and meet basic human needs for a balanced diet can be determined(Fick, 2007).Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysis1

The foodshed concept, similar to the notion of a watershed applied to food systems, resonatedwith project stakeholders and seemed well suited to the unique characteristics of the BellaCoola Valley. BCVSAS members and project partners envisioned that closer identification withtheir foodshed would promote increased production and sales of local food crops, increasedfood security and employment opportunities.BCVSAS firmly believes that increased agricultural production, when carefully stewarded withinthe framework of the local resource base and inclusive of local residents, will provide cruciallyneeded socio‐economic benefits.Investigation of the foodshed began as a collaborative discussion at BCVSAS’s inaugural AnnualGeneral Meeting (February 2006). BCVSAS directors invited a UBC graduate student, withpractical experience in specialty farming and direct marketing, and a keen desire to learn aboutthe dynamics of community‐inspired food systems, to facilitate the project.The Bella Coola Valley Foodshed Analysis Project was grounded in a community‐based actionresearch approach. In keeping with this philosophy, it aimed to identify the potentialagricultural resource base, with explicit focuses of enhancing local project support and inspiringgreater agricultural productive capacity.Image 1Bella Coola Valley – Edible Garden Tour & Feast 2007Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysis2

Chapter 2Project OverviewInvestigation of the Bella Coola Valley Foodshed began in early 2006 with efforts to compile andincrease awareness of baseline soils and climate data, and community capacity development.The project utilized a community‐based approach to the identification of potential agriculturalopportunities, with an explicit focus on inspiring greater local productive capacity andenhancing support.The investigation was conducted in two distinct, but sequential phases of fieldwork andfinancial support. Phase I, funded by the Coast Sustainability Trust and Community FuturesDevelopment Corporation Cariboo Chilcotin, focused on soil fertility and irrigation water testingand analysis. Phase II, funded by the Investment Agricultural Foundation of BC and the RealEstate Foundation of BC, comprised of capacity development, an agricultural use inventory,mapping of soils characteristics, local climate information and interpretations of land capabilityfor agriculture and crop suitability.Both Phases and activities were pursuant to and in accordance with BCVSAS's vision of foodsecurity promoting local agriculture and supported the implementation of the community FoodAction Plan. (While this was a separate project with its own funding, it was pursuedconcurrently with this project.)This project incorporated the soil survey, micro‐climate weather station data and an agri‐cultural land use inventory, together with the analyses of baseline soil and climate resourcedata. In order to realize the completion the Foodshed Analysis, BCVSAS developed strategicpartnerships with UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems (FLFS), volunteers and otherorganizations. BCVSAS and its project partners share the vision of a reinvigorated local foodsystem as a means of connecting improved socio‐economic conditions and ecosystem withcommunity health.Agricultural workshops provided accessible and participatory forums for sharing findings andknowledge.The project encouraged increased public awareness of agricultural productive potential of theValley. This initiative increased community capacity in the form of training components,facilitated knowledge transfer through participation in workshops, and collaboration in variousaspects of the project.The study and resultant publications are not only important community resources, but also isthe first for the Bella Coola Valley, in terms of in‐depth agricultural analyses.Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysis3

Chapter 3Soil Fertility and Irrigation Water Sampling3.1PreambleWhile the Soil Fertility and Irrigation Water Sampling Study was the precursor work (and fundedseparately) for the Foodshed Analysis Project, we restate its methodology, synopsis andsignificant findings in order to provide context and background for the Foodshed Analysis.3.2MethodologyIn 2006 BCVSAS representatives circulated a newsletter throughout the Valley’s postal area thatoffered complimentary soil fertility and irrigation water sampling and analysis to interestedagriculturalists and gardeners on a first come, first served basis.Participation in the study was based on interest levels and limited by the project budget. Theinitial mail‐out and community outreach generated 53 soil and seven irrigation water samplingsites. Nearly all participants expressed interest in exploring the feasibility of a specific crop orland use for their property.The project tasks were carried out by BCVSAS and project partners in 2006. PacificSoils Analysis Incorporated (PSAI) provided the facilities, equipment and guidance for thetesting of the collected samples.Samples were collected from settled and cleared agricultural areas. Land use activities wherethe samples were collected from included: in‐ground and raised bed gardens, lawns, hayfields,cultivated pastures, fallow or uncultivated lands, orchards and forested areas.Individual soil cores from 20 locations were mixed thoroughly in a clean plastic bucket forcomposite samples. The samples were then transferred to a plastic bag and labeled with fieldlocation, sampling depth and date. Moist samples were air‐dried and delivered to Pacific SoilsAnalysis Incorporated (PSAI) in Richmond. Irrigation water samples were collected in bottlesprovided by PSAI and refrigerated until delivered to the laboratory.The tabulated results of the soil fertility and irrigation water tests were made available to studyparticipants. In addition, a brief review of publicly accessible climate information served as abaseline for the compilation of data that informed the crop suitability assessment.Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysis4

3.3Synopsis and Significant Findings3.3.1 Soil Fertility Testing ResultsBaseline agricultural resource information that contributed to the understanding of thepotential for enhanced food production in the Bella Coola Valley was collected.In broad terms, the test results provided a snapshot of nutrient availability and represented thevaried land use and soil management practices for study participants. The majority of the soilstested showed limited available fertility tied to low pH and low organic matter. The moreintensively managed soils tended to indicate more optimal pH and nutrient availability and theminimally managed fields and native soils returned lower pH and limited available nutrients.On average, there was a trend towards more optimal pH and increased organic matterpercentages in the land‐use types that were more intensively managed as gardens or raisedbeds.3.3.2 Irrigation Water TestingWhile irrigation water testing was included as one of the complimentary sampling and analysisprocedures for the preliminary study, budget constraints and other limitations minimized theeffectiveness of this portion of the project.Image 2Garden at Healthy Beginnings – Nuxalk Nation’s Early Childhood Care FacilityBella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysis5

Chapter 4Foodshed Analysis: Soils and Agricultural Use Inventories4.1MethodologyThroughout 2007, project partners worked on defining the biophysical characteristics of theBella Coola Valley Foodshed. Specifically, work was directed at soils characteristics mapping,climate information, interpretation of land capability for agriculture, and crop suitability.BCVSAS conducted an agricultural use inventory, completed fieldwork on a 1:20,000 scale soilinventory, and procured and installed two micro‐climate weather stations.Information was compiled from the soil inventory, applied land capability for agricultureratings, and completed corresponding maps for each. In addition, crop suitabilityinterpretations resulted in a Crop Suitability Report and map that indicate crop suitabilityratings for each of the mapped soil units.The Foodshed Analysis Project explored sustainability linkages through the soil and micro‐climate study, soil mapping, land capability, crop suitability, and current land‐use inventory.Another key piece of this study was the community capacity development and knowledgetransfer of these agricultural production variables.The approach to the research project was grounded in community‐based action research.The project partners endeavored to carry out each major project task in a collaborativemanner, beginning with the participation of local research assistants in conversation withinterested landowners, and in workshop forums.In keeping with this approach, the soil inventory contractor, BCVSAS volunteers and the ProjectFacilitator worked alongside and trained local youth through the land‐use survey andcommunity outreach projects.In addition, property holders were invited to be active participants in the soils and micro‐climate research, as well as the land‐use survey. Finally, research and survey results formed thefoundation and content for the various community workshops and forums.Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysis6

4.2Global Information System (GIS) MappingA key Foodshed Analysis Project objective was to build a GIS database, including floodplain dataand terrain mapping of publicly accessible agricultural resource information. BCVSAS viewedthis as a means of providing additional tools for the reestablishment of a local food system. Acontract was awarded to Frontier Resource Management Ltd (FRML), a local firm, to prepare allGIS maps associated with the project.4.2.1 Agricultural Use InventoryThe BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (MAL), Strengthening Farming, provided assistancewith setting up the inventory. A combination of MAL publications, including the Ag Focus ‐ AGuide to Agricultural Land Use Inventory and Land Use Classification in British Columbia,(BCMAL, 2004; Sawicki and Runka, 1986) provided guidance and procedures for the inventory,but in the end, was not used directly because of the small‐scale nature of food productionendeavors and the 1:20,000 base mapping scale.The inventory began along Highway 20, at the Valley’s eastern end (the boundary ofTweedsmuir Provincial Park). The representative food production inventory was carried out as a“windshield survey," meaning project staff drove most accessible roads and driveways. In themore densely settled areas (e.g. Smith Subdivision, 4 Mile Reserve, Village Reserve and BellaCoola Townsite), data was gathered on foot. Where possible, information was obtained throughboth observation of gardens and interviews; however, in some instances when landownerswere not available and gates, dogs or other access barriers were present, inventory informationwas limited to what was visually observed from a distance.The goal of this component was to document food production and agricultural activities for the2007 growing season. Over 790 sites were inventoried and field notes taken on foodproduction, including numbers and types of: fruit trees,variety and relative size of vegetable gardens,vines and berry crops,use of season extension mechanisms, such as greenhouses, raised beds, cold framesor other structures, and;the presence of livestock, whether cattle, horses, poultry or other.A substantial percentage of these sites were recorded as GPS points and a representativenumber plotted on the agriculture use map. Due to human and financial constraints, some foodproduction may have been missed. In addition, certain foods, such as brambles, may be underrepresented. (These plants naturally thrive in the Valley and can be tucked away in landscapesettings, yet be productive and significant for households.)Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysis7

Complimentary to the field survey of point data, a generalized land use inventory was carriedout using 2006 air photos and field checking. Due to the small scale of most food productionrelative to the 1: 20,000 base mapping scale, the majority of GIS polygons identified weredominantly agricultural as forage, either hay or pasture.In residential areas where there were map sized agricultural clearings, the land use wascomplexed as Residential/Agricultural. In the more densely populated areas that were mappedas Residential polygons, information on food production activities can be interpreted throughthe associated map point data sites. (Please refer to Appendix A for the agricultural useinventory.)4.2.2 Soils InventoryFollowing a competitive tendering process, the contract to carry out soils mapping wasawarded to Dr. Terence Lewis, P.Ag.The groundwork followed traditional soil survey methodology for 1:20,000 soils mapping. Dr.Lewis spent 27 days in the field and mapped approximately 6,000 hectares. With refinementsto the database and administrative work, the soil mapping project component ran from July toDecember 2007.The methodology was comprised of: pre‐typing map units on air photographs,checking map unit boundaries on the ground,describing 320 soil pit sites,refining map unit boundaries, and;compilation of a soils map, database and descriptive map legend.Valley bottomlands within the study area were classified as fans, fluvial terraces or floodplainlandforms, and mapped for differing soil characteristics, culminating in 199 map units. Eachmap unit was described, based on (please refer to Appendix B for additional information): landform,slope range (topography),nature, texture and depth of surficial material, and;drainage.Due to the map’s scale, some units appear as complexes of more than one soil, withpercentages estimated for each component.Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysis8

4.2.3 Land Capability for Agriculture MappingIn this national/provincial classification, land is grouped into seven classes according to therange of crops that can be grown, based on inherent soil and climate characteristics, with Class1 representing the widest range of crops and Class 7 having no capability for arable agricultureor natural grazing. Subclasses indicate specific limitations, such as topography, stoniness or soilmoisture deficit that may limit the range of crops.A moderate Coastal climate dominates the study area, with Interior climate influencesbecoming more apparent in the easternmost part of the Valley. Notwithstanding this climaticrange and localized variations based on topography and aspect, with irrigation, the study arealies entirely within Climatic Class 1 (or better), indicating a freeze‐free period of greater than150 days, and effective growing degree days above 5C of greater than 825.In addition to considering climate and soil characteristics such as soil texture, topography anddrainage, land capability for agriculture ratings consider the level of management intensityrequired to realize the identified crop range. Ratings do not, however, indicate crop suitabilityor productivity within the identified range.Based on the available climate information and the 1:20,000 soils mapping with associateddescriptions, land capability for agriculture ratings were applied to each of the 199 identifiedsoil units, utilizing the standard rating conventions of the provincial Land Capability forAgriculture Classification (please refer to Appendix D, Land Capability for Agriculture Maps foradditional information). All ratings are improved ratings, assuming irrigation and the alleviationof other limitations using normal farm management practices.With the exception of the Bella Coola River estuary and Townsite, for which soils mapping wasnot carried out, the resulting land capability for agriculture map covers all lands within thestudy area, regardless of present use.4.2.4 Crop Suitability MappingAs further interpretation of both climate/soils information and land capability for agricultureratings, climatically suited crops were identified and a crop suitability map and accompanyingreport prepared.Based on the Class 1 Climate, growing experience and reference to the Soil ManagementHandbook of the Lower Fraser Valley, climatically suited crops for the study area weredetermined to include:Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysis9

annual legumes,root crops,shallow rooted annual vegetables,cole crops,corn,asparagus,cereal grains,perennial es,tree fruits,nursery stock,Christmas trees, and;hazelnutsYields and reliability for some specific crops within the above groups (namely cucumbers,peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, squashes, apricots, nectarines, peaches, grapes and kiwis) limittheir suitability to small scale, home or hobby garden production (please refer to Appendix E:Bella Coola Valley Crop Suitability Report).High, moderate or low crop suitability ratings were then applied for each of the climaticallysuited crops or crop groupings, both for individual soil units (located on the map) and forgeneralized soil groupings (table format within the report). High suitability' indicates those crops that are well suited to the soils and climate and requirefew management inputs to achieve an acceptable levels of production, while low suitability'indicates those crops that are not well suited to the soils and climate, and require aconsiderable degree of management inputs to achieve an acceptable production levels.Climatically suited crops unsuited to the specific soil units do not appear on the map, but wererecorded in the table within the accompanying report.In addition to the Bella Coola River estuary and Townsite, for which no soils mapping wascarried out, crop suitability ratings were unable to be applied to the 4 Mile Reserve due tocomplexity of soils and mapping scale. (Please refer to Appendix E for the Bella Coola ValleyCrop Suitability Report and Appendix F for the Bella Coola Valley Crop Suitability Map.)Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society – Foodshed Analysis10

4.3 Synopsis and Significant Findings4.3.1 SynopsisAn agriculture use inventory, soils inventory, a land capability for agriculture map, and cropsuitability interpretations were completed. 1:20,000 scale soil mapping was carried out for theBella Coola Valley, extending from the boundary of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park at Burnt BridgeCreek, westward to the Bella Coola River estuary at North Bentinck Arm.n terms of climate information, missing solar shading and micro‐climate information wasidentified as a gap in the available climate assessment and represents a key requirement forfurther research. Active connections to food production activities were documented ‐ 790 siteswere inventoried and point data on food production activities recorded. In addition, ageneralized land use survey was conducted to identify polygons having agriculture either as aprimary or secondary activity, with 82 sites having the primary activity listed as agriculture.Results indicate there are a range of food production activities, such as small orchards,blueberry plantings, roadside fruit and vegetable stands, commercial nurseries, a beekeepingoperation, and specialty livestock‐hobby farms.While production at this scale itself does not suggest significant commercial activity, it is asubstantial contribution to household consumption, and may have positive implications forfood security, as well as the necessary skill levels and interest required for market‐scaleproduction and processing.4.3.2 Significant Findings The 5,888 hectares mapped comprises 1,594 hectares of floodplain landforms, 1,770hectares of fluvial fan landforms and 2,524 hectares of alluvial t

Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society - Foodshed Analysis v Appendix A.1 Agricultural Use Inventory - Map 1 19 A.2 Agricultural Use Inventory - Map 2 20 B.1 Soils Inventory Map - Map 1 21 B.2 Soils Inventory Map - Map 2 22 B.3 Legend and Data Spreadsheet 23 C Climate Data Review 25 D.1 Land Capability for Agriculture - Map 1 26