Organic Farming Capital of Canada - Cawston, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 49° 10.035 W 119° 44.666
11U E 299949 N 5449674
Quick Description: This is the Cawston Welcome sign for westbound travellers on Highway 3, close to a mile southeast of the town centre.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 9/7/2014 7:56:34 PM
Waymark Code: WMME6Z
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 1

Long Description:
Cawston has one of the nicer welcome signs we've encountered in our travels, backgrounded with pictures of a variety of the organic produce grown in the area.

The Similkameen-Okanagan Organic Producers Association began certifying farms in 1986, and organic farms and organic growing has skyrocketed since then.

Considering itself an extension of the Okanagan Valley, known for its fruit and produce, the Cawston area is in the eastern reaches of the Similkameen Valley. This low, wide valley follows the Similkameen River westward to its headwaters on the eastern watershed of the coastal mountains. It experiences essentially the same weather conditions as the Okanagan, making it a great wine grape, fruit and vegetable growing region.

Organic and sustainable agricultural principles have a long history in the Similkameen Valley. In 1986 the Similkameen-Okanagan Organic Producers Association began certifying farms. Since then, South Okanagan-Similkameen growers have been leaders in the advancement of organic principles and in recognition of the values of land conservancy.

The Organic Farming Institute of British Columbia began as a local, grassroots initiative and has grown to province-wide proportions. The Similkameen Valley has the highest concentration (40%) of organic farms in Canada. Across Canada only 1.6% of farms are certified organic. In British Columbia, approximately 2% of farms are certified organic. Approximately 15% of farmland in the Similkameen Valley is in a nature conservancy.

In February 2004, a widely representative group of 34 South Okanagan and Similkameen Valley residents met to discuss moving forward on a long-held concept for a centre for excellence in organic, sustainable farming and research that would utilize the storehouse of expertise in our organic farming community. A Steering Committee was formed to move the project forward.

In 2005, a business plan was developed, with funding from Western Economic Diversification. A Board of Directors was formed and the Institute was incorporated as a non-profit society. Soon after, the Institute was granted charitable status.

In 2006, Okanagan College became the first post-secondary partner with the OFIBC. The Certified Organic Associations of BC and seven of its Certifying Bodies endorsed the OFIBC with letters of support. Funding from the McLean Institute of Toronto and from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia was obtained. That funding sat unused for 18 months because funding from a third (and largest) source was delayed.

In 2007, the OFIBC conducted a survey of farmers across four of BC’s major farming regions. The survey results indicate a much higher degree of interest by farmers in taking courses than the 2005 business plan anticipated.

In 2008, the OFIBC began discussions with Fraser Valley University about a partnership for delivering courses to agricultural students and professionals. Remaining funding was obtained and the first course was developed.

In 2009 the OFIBC opened its doors hiring an administrator, completing development of the first two courses and welcoming the first students.
Type of community: Town

Visit Instructions:
More pictures of the sign would be great. Try and take a picture of yourself with it if you can!
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