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

Langley comes out on top in Special Olympics

Langley basketball players in the A/B Division took first place over Kelowna.

Budget cuts at Kwantlen Polytechnic will mean larger classes

President of Kwantlen faculty association says spending on administration salaries is going up

Fraser Valley Thunderbirds take silver in finals of new minor midget hockey league

Team of mostly Langley players will have a new look in the second season

Langley tutor lauded on ice

Sylvia Lloyd was recognized for the work she does – paid and unpaid – helping tutor children.

WATCH: Out and about in Langley

March 20-22; your guide to community happenings.

Free app launches to help immigrants, refugees as they settle in B.C.

Mobile app Arrival Advisor was developed by Vancouver-based non-profit PeaceGeeks

Catch-up immunization aims to stamp out B.C. measles resurgence

Vaccination records to be checked at B.C. schools next fall

Latest phone scam tricks Vancouver seniors out of $3.1 million

Police caution the public about using a landline phone

Bodies of two missing teens recovered in reservoir along Kootenay river

Volkswagen Beetle drove off the road down a steep embankment and into the Pend d’Oreille River Sunday

40 records broken across B.C. as hot streak continues

Abbotsford hottest spot in Canada on Tuesday

B.C. wildfire prevention budget bulked up as dry spring unfolds

Night vision goggles tested for early detection effort

Vancouver driver ticketed twice within 6 minutes for same offence

The man was written up by two different officers for using an electronic device

B.C. teacher reprimanded after incident with Grade 11 student in school gym

Gregory Norman Brock was teaching at a high school in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District

Most Read