Farms open arms to visitors for Agassiz Ag Tour
Visitors to Treeline Nurseries enjoyed a narrated walk through the trees on Tuesday morning, at the first stop along the Agassiz Agricultural Tour.
The tour has been held annually for about seven years, either in the spring or the fall, and gives people an in-depth look at what's new and exciting in agricultural.
This year's stops included Treeline, Poplar Grove Arbour and the Schwichtenberg dairy farm.
At Treeline, owner Randy Chiasson led the group of about 15 people through his lot, explaining the trials and triumphs he's experienced over the last few years while growing his business.
With three, five-acre parcels in Agassiz and Chilliwack, Chiasson sees himself as a smaller nursery. Much of his business involves selling his plants and trees to bigger nurseries and contractors.
Just like any business, not everything sells, he said. But the difference between products that have a shelf life, and a row of maples, is that the maples grow — and they grow fast.
So it's a delicate balance choosing what plants to invest in. Chiasson keeps an eye on what's hot, and what's falling out of favour. Right now, yews are very popular, and he showed off a few varieties of the sturdy, slow growing shrubs. The narrow, green Irish yew, with its red bell blossoms is much different from an Eddie yew, for example, which is more free flowing.
While some trees, particularly maple varieties, will grow extremely quickly there are ways to slow that growth.
"You can slow them by digging them up and re-digging," Chiasson said. "You have to slow it down if you can."
Peter Andres, owner of the hazelnut farm Poplar Grove Arbour, is on the Ag Tour committee along with Agassiz dairy farmer Ken Schwaerzle.
When choosing which farms to feature each year, Andres said they consider a number of issues. They look at what's in the news, what's current and what new technology is being used in the area. In the past, they featured an electronic milking system, and an Agassiz farm that was recycling manure into bedding pellets.
However, Andres said they are considering lessening the frequency of the tours to once every two years. The tours are open to anyone with an interest in the business of agriculture. This year's tour had representatives from a wide range of industries, from banking to resource management. Mayor John Van Laer hoven and CAO Wallace Mah were also on hand representing council and staff.