The BC Cranberry Marketing Commission has a new chair.
Jack Brown has stepped down as chair, handing the reins to Kalpna Solanki, who said she has “big shoes to fill” when her appointment was announced at the commission’s annual general meeting March 3. The change is effective today (March 10).
Solanki is CEO of the Environmental Operators Certification Program, which certifies wastewater treatment plant personnel, and a founding partner with Operators Without Borders. Her background includes environmental work, strategic planning and educating in both for-profit and not-for profit organizations. She was formerly a board member with Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.
“In every role I have been able to contribute but also learn,” she says. “I have a keen interest in Canadian agriculture, research and value-added products, and I look forward to working with the cranberry growers to grow the industry even more.”
Brown started working with the commission as a special advisor in 2006, when John Savage was the chair. Brown came to the role with an extensive farming background. He had been a dairy farmer until 1972, then a potato grower until 1991 when he switched to breeding Red Angus. He dispersed the herd in 2012. He was also active in the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, serving 12 years as a board member including two as president.
Brown says he will continue to serve on the BC Cranberry Research Society board, which oversees the industry’s research farm. The society operates independently of the commission.
“It’s kind of the apple of everybody’s eye,” he says of the farm. “It’s been a tremendous value to the industry.”
Work in new, locally adapted varieties to generate higher yields for BC growers is the farm’s greatest value, says Brown. In 2020, 75 cranberry growers produced 1,003,998 barrels of fruit on about 5,750 acres. Approximately 750 additional acres are being replanted in higher-yielding varieties.