For the first time since 2019, the agriculture bus rumbled back into action.
The Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce’s annual event was unable to occur in 2020 and the 2021 version saw a virtual format, but Friday (June 17) saw over 80 attendees visit four local farms.
On the docket for 2022 was Farmers’ Fresh Mushrooms, Van Belle Nursery, Eco Dairy and Perpetual Vegetable Co.
Carole Jorgensen, the ACOC’s manager of events and sponsorships, said feedback has been good and that participants enjoyed the chance to check out the farms in-person again and getting the chance to network with others.
“The videos were really well done last year and we highlighted some great businesses but a big part of why people love the bus tour is the networking portion of it,” she said. “You get to meet new people and just physically being in these facilities and getting a behind the scenes look at these operations – I think people really enjoy that.”
Attendees were split into two different buses and got the chance to learn more about the four featured farms and receive a unique tour to discover more about how these successful businesses operate. The theme for 2022 was “Alternatives to Achieving Food Security with Agricultural Technology” with a focus on the agri-tech industry techniques used by the farms on the tour.
Abbotsford-Mission MLA Pam Alexis was the guest speaker during a provided lunch break.
Farmers’s Fresh Mushrooms, located at 3545 Ross Road, is one of the largest mushroom producers in western Canada and the Pacific Northwest and is owned by locals Tan Truong and his wife Hue Hyunh. Their son Tim Truong has recently took over operations as the president. They sell more than 40 different mushroom and mushroom products.
Van Belle Nursery, located at 34819 Harris Road is a family-owned wholesale-only nursery that has been operating out of Abbotsford since 1973. They offer products both for growers and retailers. The finished plants aspect of their business supplies shrubs, perennials, annuals and indoor plants to merchants all over western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. They’ve also recently created a new flower brand known as Bloomin’ Easy.
Eco Dairy. located at 1356 Sumas Way is known as the first demonstration farm of its kind in Abbotsford and is in a partnership with Science World. They offer tours and have several different animals on site. More recently they have started raising cows and creating Wagyu beef. In order to feed the cows and other animals on site a new wheatgrass vertical farming area has been created.
Perpetual Vegetable Co., located at 32840 Townshipline Road, began after patriarch Kan Randhawa immigrated to Canada in 1978 and, after years of working in farms in the Lower Mainland, he purchased five acres of his own. He started with raspberries and the greenhouse operation now spans over 75 acres and continues to grow. They are now some of the biggest producers of seedless cucumber and peppers and their products can be found in grocery stores everywhere.
Jorgensen said the featured farms all utilize different methods of agri-tech, but she also said their stories are inspiring.
“With these farms you have three very successful stories of local people that have started thriving businesses,” she said. “And within this generation – they all began in the 1970s. What also impressed me with these businesses is how well they treat their employees and how proud everyone is of their companies.”
Jorgensen said that moving forward she expects the tour to continue in its mid-June date and feature more in-person tours. She also thanked the sponsors for the tour which included: the BC Chicken Marketing Board, Abbotsford Tech District, Community Futures South Fraser, KPMG, RBC and BC Egg.
The next big event on the calendar for the ACOC is the 35th annual golf tournament, which is set for Ledgeview on Sept. 9.