Sunday, 23 June 2013

All Aboard!

I had a fabulous opportunity Friday. It tied in perfectly with Dairy Month, my freelance writing (hello new article in the works!) and my personal enjoyment of "seeing new things."
And did I ever.
On Friday morning I woke up at 6 a.m bright eyed and energetic (that is called artistic license) and drove into Abbotsford. Here I, and one hundred other agricultural enthusiasts, boarded buses and embarked on an Agricultural Bus Tour.
The main area we traversed is a region called Sumas Prairie and as 'prairie' suggests it is a superb place for farming--but not just cows. Even though it is Dairy Month, the entire agricultural community deserves recognition and Friday was the day.

We had four stops in total: a bulb and flower farm, an endive producer and packer, a greenhouse and chicken and turkey farm.
We were treated better than VIP's. The owner of each farm greeted us, toured us around and answered questions from an array of backgrounds. There were retired teachers and greenhouse workers, accountants, lawyers and bankers who work in agriculture sector, seniors, member of the agriculture committee which organized the trip, writers and fellow farmers. We asked a lot of questions and I ended up taking over a hundred a fifty photographs--and still missed things!
So where did the tour begin? Lakeland Flowers. It is the home of fields and fields of peonies, tulips, daffodils and gladiolas. Talk about flower power. They also grow tulips and daffodils indoors in greenhouses to help combat sometimes fickle weather.

Our guide (and owner) Nick doesn't just smell the flowers but has a completely automated machine which bunches them. It is called a tulip buncher. This machine takes cut flowers which can be piled onto a conveyor and from there the machine scans and sorts. The final result: a bunch of tulips, tied and bundled, deposited onto a table. Just like that. The rotten ones or those too small are taken out and the good ones get tied up and are ready to be sold. 
That's the magic of it all. A computerized and automated tulip buncher than optimises productivity and helps with the ever present need for workers. It ties and bundles, so the cut flowers can be sold at a local, traditional farmer's market. Welcome to modern day farming.
I invite you along on the tour as I revisit the stops and share some behind-the-scenes photographs. It's exclusive and informative and promises to be a good deal of fun. Stay posted!
NEXT STOP: The Belgian Endive--what's so sweet about this sour veggie?