Strawberries are in already, and farmers frustrated

Warm weather means early fruits and veggies, but Lower Mainland farmers face water challenges

Doug Zaklan of Zaklan Heritage Farm and partner Gemma McNeill.

This year’s fruit and vegetable harvest is early thanks to the warm and dry weather, continuing a trend over the last few years.

But the lack of rain and abundant sun aren’t necessarily a boon for farmers tasked with planning their fields and arranging for labour to pick them.

“Last year it was hot and this year, it just kind of went from winter to summer right away,” said Doug Zaklan, of Zaklan Heritage Farm on 84 Avenue in Surrey.

Zaklan, 27, and his partner Gemma McNeill, 29, co-own the farming business that operates on an eight-acre parcel of land that has been in Zaklan’s family since 1928.

“It puts a lot of stress on the plants and on the farmer to be producing,” he said of the warm weather. “Farming is all about natural cycles and working with nature, so when nature throws you curve balls, you have to adapt to it. It’s really challenging.”

A farmer for the past six years, Zaklan said he’s seen a trend of warming. Some of his crops are ready for sale, earlier than last year.

But one of his biggest challenges is finding sufficient water to irrigate his land.

With no help in sight from the city, Zaklan is doing the best he can with the little water he has access to.

At Surrey Farm, John Garcia was selling strawberries by the basket at a roadside stand along King George Boulevard, with some fields also open for u-picks.

Owner Sukhi Rai said all farmers are singing a familiar refrain: there’s not enough water.

“How do we farm these lands without any water rights,” Rai said. “We’re not allowed to take water from the river.”

Rai said he doesn’t dedicate much of his farmland to strawberries anymore because there’s no more money in it. At one point, they used to grow strawberries on 100 acres.

But without a reliable source of water, farmers are finding it tough to grow much of anything.

“I’ve been farming since 1989. I’m 36 now. I had to get away from it. I couldn’t support the house with it.”

And with the high cost of farmland, there’s no young generation of farmers getting into this line of work.

 

Just Posted

Controversial Langley condo developer fights extradition on U.S. fraud charge

Mark Chandler’s lawyer argued before the B.C. Court of Appeal Friday to keep him in Canada.

Snowfall warning: 5-10 cm expected in Lower Mainland

The snowfall will start Tuesday and carry on into the evening, before tapering off Wednesday

Snowfall warning issued for Surrey, Langley

Environment Canada warns to ‘be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and take necessary safety precautions’

VIDEO: Taking a motorcycle tour of a new type of Langley office building

Owner of “your workspace” project wants to have staff share space with outsiders

Langley playing host to B.C.’s best high school wrestlers

A pair of champion women wrestlers share stories and experience with younger generation.

Mermen calendar targets ‘toxic masculinity,’ raises big money for charities

Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club gave a cheque for more than $202,000 to Violence Prevention NL

Man shot dead in front of Kamloops hotel may be case of mistaken identity: RCMP

Rex Gill, 44, was not previously known to Kamloops police unlike second shooting victim

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Payless to close 248 Canadian stores, saying it’s ‘ill-equipped’ for market

The company will begin closing stores at the end of March

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Super snow moon set to rise across B.C.

It is the biggest and brightest moon of the year

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

5 to start your day

IHIT investing South Surrey homicide, B.C.’s budget set to focus on climate change, poverty and more

Minister says plans to fight poverty, climate change, focus of B.C. budget

The NDP said in its throne speech last week that affordability will be the hallmark of its initiatives

Most Read