The Alberni Clayoquot Regional District agricultural plan is taking another step forward.
ACRD planning department staff met with Alberni Farmers Institute officials about the plan at a meeting on April 24. Now they are advertising for someone to implement a new plan.
“We want to talk a bit about the agricultural plan with the farmers institute and make sure we’re on track with them,” ACRD planner Mike Irg said back in April.
Adopted in 2011, the 20-year plan describes the state of local agriculture. It also reviews the type of agriculture in the area, resources use, capacity issues, soil and water content as well as regulation and policy issues that impact local agriculture.
“We also want to try and identify areas where we feel there is an opportunity for growth,” Irg said.
According to the report, Port Alberni has 7,702 hectares of land in the agricultural land reserve, of which only 41 per cent is farmed; more than 90 per cent is used for livestock production or livestock feed; 239 hectares is used for vegetables, berries and grapes.
There is a high demand for locally grown food, but only five to 11 per cent is grown locally, the report notes.
The plan also notes that while production is down from historic levels there are opportunities to market products to local consumers and to tourists. Water is available for distribution, and while the agricultural land is isolated in the Alberni Valley it’s an opportunity to raise disease-free products and preserve genetic integrity.
The plan also sets out 12 goals, among which are improving marketing of Alberni Valley and its agricultural products, improved market access for local farmers, improve land base productivity and to increase availability of water for agriculture.
There is a lot of land for instance that is currently used for haying and grazing that is capable of producing other crops if the right opportunity came along, Irg said.
The meeting with the Farmers Institute was part of the first goal which is to improve the effectiveness of farm and community organizations. ACRD officials attended the Islands Agricultural Show in Duncan in February as part of the initiative as well.
The next step is to proceed with the second goal which is to brand Port Alberni as a place where quality agricultural products are produced, Irg said.
The request for proposals closes June 27. Contact the regional district office at 250-720-2710 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.