DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The first Agro Connect Conference and Agriculture Market is coming to Dawson Creek.
The two-day event is taking place at the Ovintiv Event Centre on February 10th and 11th, 2023, to promote community connections and industry education.
The event coordinator, Natasha Cortes, says the conference will have three keynote speakers as well as information and education panels with local experts.
“We’re doing an energy panel, which will focus on solar, wind and geothermal,” she said.
“Then we have another panel that will be alternative growing. It’ll focus on vertical growing, permaculture, that style. Then our other one will be 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, says Cortes.
She says the conference and market idea came to her four years ago.
Cortes started the Northern Handmade Market in 2017, utilizing her background in marketing and networking.
The market runs twice a year, once in the spring and once in November, and hosts vendors “from 14 to 15 hours away.”
“The idea that I had was to create a market or a platform since I noticed that we have a ton of new, young individuals who are starting out in agriculture, so lots of brand new farmers and lots of brand new micro farms and homesteads,” she explained.
“So I wanted to provide a platform, cause what I know is lots of people who are creative or the farmers, they don’t have the time nor the skill set to market themselves.”
Cortes says the farmers don’t have time to go to a farmer’s market every weekend, so she wanted to create a platform for farmers to make those connections.
She started talking with Fran Haughain and Sue Kenny from Community Futures Peace Liard, who wanted to expand on this idea more.
The trio wanted to add a conference, some education, and connect farmers with local resources they may not know about.
“Our goal is to help create more secure food sustainability in our community,” Cortes explained.
She says that over the past couple of years, with shortages becoming a problem, she thinks connecting farmers with the community is important.
“We’ve done a couple of meetings so far, and it was really exciting to watch how the farmers interacted with each other and how they exchanged contacts of not just themselves, but of other people they’ve been in contact with that helped them in certain areas that the other farmer could then also use,” she said.
Cortes would like to give a special shoutout to a couple of Community Futures Peace Liard workers for their help and manager, Sue Kenny.
“Fran [Haughain] from Community Futures has really spearheaded this with me, which is phenomenal, and that’s her background,” she said.
“Becky Weaver, cause she’s also been a big part of it, and it’s really the three of us that have been sitting down, working everything out, going through planning.”
Tickets for the conference and vendor packages will be available on September 1st.