Our Story

First Northern Co-Hort Team! (Left to right) Sonya Runacres, Olivia Tremblay, Bess Legault and Theresa White.

Northern Co-Hort was born from the desire of local producers in the Peace to create a more sustainable food secure region. In 2017, the BC Ministry of Agriculture engaged local producers through a research company named EcoTactix to create a document outlining the results of these meetings. The case study titled “North Peace Horticulture Business and Marketing case study” was created to see what supports are available, and what is needed to help farmers, producers and industry expand in the Peace River Region. From this case study the Northern Co-Hort was created to go the next step: to put these ideas into practice and start coordinating the needs of the farmers, producers and industry in this region.

We quickly got our hands dirty and started supporting producers in 2018 by surveying local farms to discover their needs. After gathering data identifying where producers most needed help, Northern Co-Hort began hosting workshops and events covering a variety of topics including building connections, grant applications, grow series, intensive grazing workshops, and many more. These events seek to improve farm functions, share and develop skills for farmers, and provide opportunities for farmers to meet each other. In the first six months of the Northern Co-Hort, we received survey responses from more than 160 local producers and consumers and hosted more than 270 producers in events throughout the region.

Eco Farm Skills students aren’t afraid to get their hands (or knees) dirty!

In 2019, Northern Co-Hort piloted the Eco Farm Skills program, aimed at supporting local ecologically minded producers who would like to share their knowledge of Northern food production in the Peace Region. Eco Farm Skills is a program created as a direct response to feedback collected through producer surveys indicating that there are times when producers could really use extra hands on farm but many cannot afford to hire full time summer help or have access to labour skilled in ecological agriculture. Eco Farm Skills matches summer students to ecologically minded farms where they can provide supervised help with planting, weeding, irrigating, harvesting etc. while being mentored about sustainable agriculture in the North. 

In 2021, Northern Co-Hort began coordinating research and development initiatives on participating farms in the Peace River Region. With funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership and Shell Canada, Northern Co-Hort partnered with Fixed Earth Innovations and Blackbird Environmental This research will test local beneficial microbes to improve the health of sour cherry and haskap plants, with the goal of improving soil health to reduce the need for synthetic fertilizer. Northern Co-Hort also integrated this project into a new program, Soil Health Matters, designed to support farmers through relationship building with other farmers and regional agrologists to bring soil health to the forefront of land management and production decisions.

Northern Co-Hort is dedicated to helping farmer’s understand and enhance their soil’s health!

The Northern Co-Hort maintains its commitment to sustainable farming practices and regional food security for the Peace. In the future, we will continue to expand and bring our services to farmers and consumers on the Peace Region. Together, we can create a greener future for the Peace River Region!