More than a quarter of the local potatoes, carrots, cabbage and squash available from spring to early summer in British Columbia are harvested from a single Surrey property. A property that, however, isn’t protected in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Now, a group of farmers is calling on government to change that before it is paved over and covered with warehouses.
According to Tristin Bouwman, crop manager with Heppell’s Potatoes, the Campbell Heights property at 192nd Street and 36th Avenue is essential to B.C.’s food security, particularly in years when the weather is wet and cool. “No other piece of land is producing what this piece is doing right now in B.C. If we didn’t have it, we’d lose our early vegetable supply.”
The field is part of a property owned by the federal government that has been leased by Heppell’s for the last 50 years. It produces between 30 million and 50 million servings of vegetables each year, which in early spring and late fall are often the only locally grown field veggies available in B.C. grocery stores.
“It’s some of the most productive and reliable land in B.C., and some of the most important,” Bouwman said, adding that once the field is paved over, it will never be returned to food production and will be lost to future generations.