Farming is not the easiest of endeavours to undertake. The crops and livestock are under pressure from the elements and predators, not to mention the constant need for basic upkeep of the land itself.
Blueberry Commons Farm Cooperative, a local endeavour situated at the northern edge of Wildwood, is tackling the challenges of farming with a more communal aspect than most. Not only do they want to provide food for the community of Powell River, they are utilizing the community to bring that dream to life.
Blueberry Commons recently held its first work bee of the year. It was a chance for locals to see the farm and learn how to prune a blueberry bush. Coffee and snacks were provided for the volunteers as they set about their work while enjoying, what was at that time, a rare winter glimpse of the sun.
Ron Berezan, who helped organize the event, explained how Blueberry Commons was started.
“We began with a group of families who started meeting four years ago; we were looking for land to start a co-housing project, along with an agricultural initiative,” said Berezan. “A year and a half ago we found the property in Wildwood. Our aim is to have a group of families work together to create a community living situation, as well as grow food and raise livestock.”
Berezan and fellow co-op members have a vision of a farm where the community can be more involved in the creation of locally sourced food and farming education.
“Our vision is to really have lots of interaction with the community, to be very connected with the Wildwood community, and the wider Powell River region,” he added. “To do that we welcome people to come out to the farm and share in activities. Sometimes those are work bees, social events or learning opportunities.”
With 16 acres of land to develop into a functioning farm and living area, Blueberry Commons has the potential to grow a great deal of food for local distribution.
“It'll be a very intensive growing operation,” said Berezan. “It will include vegetables, fruit, nuts, animals, eggs and bees this summer for honey.”
In keeping with its goal to create a lasting and productive relationship with the greater Powell River community, Blueberry Commons has also included donating to local schools as part of its mandate.
“This past December we had a surplus of young fir trees on the property and we made those available to the community for donation,” said Berezan. “And those donations were given to James Thomson Elementary School for their hot meal program.”
Whether working the land, holding community events or just getting those 800 blueberry bushes pruned, Berezan said Blueberry Commons’ goal remains resolute.
“We want to help provide food security for Powell River,” he said. “We see that as a critically important part of our community life in the coming years. All we want is to establish an ecologically thriving farm that can provide.”
During the COVID-19 emergency, some alterations are being made to public access to the land. Stay updated about how COVID-19 is affecting work bees by finding Blueberry Commons on Facebook. For more general information on Blueberry Commons, visit blueberrycommonsfarmcooperative.com.
NOTE: The work bee was held prior to social distancing recommendations and regulations were announced in BC and Canada.