Agriculture knowledge network seeks sources

Gathering and preserving farming and ranching information is Demian Pettman's current mandate

Demian Pettman

Demian Pettman

Many people in the Cariboo have been farming or ranching for decades on the same land as their ancestors, and others have migrated here to learn how to live on the land and grow food.

The knowledge they retain is valuable, and in danger of being lost, says Agriculture Web-based Enterprise Tool (AWBET) researcher Demian Pettman.

Gathering and preserving this information is Pettman’s current mandate, as she compiles data for an AWBET project, which is funded by Community Futures.

Key agriculture data relevant to farmers and ranchers in the Cariboo-Chilcotin is disappearing more and more every year, she says.

“The statistic for the average age of an agriculture producer is 52. This means many people are retiring, and where will all the knowledge go?”

It is imperative to the region’s agriculture future to retain this information, Pettman adds, especially as local food security becomes more of a concern.

“A lot of studies have occurred in our region over the years, and it is likely that someone, somewhere has knowledge about them, or has copies in their files.

“Many of these studies are government-funded, and a large number of them are in danger of being lost in the jungle of information.”

Someone could spend a great deal of time searching through the Internet, she notes, and only a small segment of that information would be useful to local producers in this region’s climate and geography.

“Basically, I am looking for current and past information that might help to increase efficiency and marketability of local and potential agricultural products.”

She will compile any relevant reports, published magazine/media articles, videos, even journals or hand-written accounts of what methods, species and practices worked or didn’t work, and then archive them where locals can access them.

Where possible these will be digitized for online resources, but others may be stored at the Agri-Culture Enterprise Development Centre (Ag-centre) in 100 Mile House, she notes.

“There are also lots of new innovations happening in universities, and on farms, as people get creative with ways to improve their product. By providing a library of relevant resources, it is easier to find out about these discoveries, and apply them locally.”

Folks are asked to contact her as soon as possible (and before April 15) if they have any documents available for the AWBET research project, or know of any past research or have suggestions for the type of data they would like to see in the online resources.

Pettman can be reached at 250-791-6442 or by e-mail at demianp@uniserve.com.

The AWBET brochure and newsletters can be downloaded on the Ag-centre’s new website at www.cariboo-agcentre.ca.