Agricultural excellence was celebrated at this year’s BC Agriculture Council gala on January 28, with 400 households tuning in after a day of seminars as part of the Lower Mainland Horticultural Improvement Association short course alongside the Pacific Agriculture Show.
Bev Whitta, Gary Funk and Carmen Wakeling were honoured for their contributions to BC agriculture and work to reach out beyond the sector.
Nanoose Bay poultry farmer Bev Whitta received the Scotiabank Champion of Agriculture award for her development of the Poultry in Motion trailer on Vancouver Island.
Gary Funk of MEI Schools in Abbotsford received the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation’s Outstanding Teacher award for his work spearheading MEI’s ecological studies program. It has grown to include a 2,000-square-foot greenhouse, gardens, orchard and on-site composting that introduces elementary and secondary students to agriculture and related studies.
BCAC’s Award for Excellence in Agriculture Leadership went to Carmen Wakeling of Eatmore Sprouts & Greens in Courtenay. Wakeling’s leadership within her sector and a collaborative approach that emphasizes respect and inclusivity was hailed as an example for others.
However, all growers deserved a round of applause in the opinion of keynote speaker Rex Murphy, who noted that never once last year did Canadians have to worry about a lack of food. He felt the sector needed to be a higher priority with the country’s leadership. However, spending during the pandemic would likely result in less support afterwards as governments tried to rein in a federal debt recently estimated at close to $1 billion.
Speakers during the Pacific Agriculture Show frequently referenced Murphy’s comments. A total of 1,400 visitors, exclusive of exhibitors and speakers, registered to attend the show. This was approximately 20% of the usual in-person attendance.
“We were happy with our number,” said show organizer Jim Shepard.
Attendance in many short-course sessions up versus previous years, impressing the LMHIA board and session chairs.
The silent auction that raises funds for the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation each year received $13,255 in bids. This exceeded last year’s tally of $11,113.