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Cold weather, rain a growing concern for South Surrey farmers

Unseasonably cool, wet spring means delays in getting produce to market
Davinder Chahil of Peace Arch Farms is struggling to get a start on his berry and vegetable crops since the rain and colder temperatures are refusing to slow down. (Contributed photo)

Rain, rain won’t go away long enough for local farms to get a start on their berry and vegetable crops for the season.

Ongoing poor weather has delayed them for weeks now, says Davinder Chahil, owner of Peace Arch Farms and Peace Arch Farm Market.

Chahil admitted he is feeling hopeless because of the crop delays caused by cold temperatures and rain.

“We can’t plant any strawberries, we can’t plant squash, nothing, not even radishes. Our greenhouse is overgrown because our fields are not ready because they’re still muddy,” Chahil told Peace Arch News.

Greenhouses are only used on Peace Arch Farms when necessary. Instead, Chahil prefers the natural way that his family taught him in Punjab, India. Using the chemicals necessary for indoor planting is not real farming, he said.

Chahil remembers how strawberries were already available for picking on Mother’s Day last year, where this spring, only mud is found in their place.

“We get the fields ready to plant and then it rains again. The fields are muddy, so we are delayed for two weeks. It rains again for one day, another two weeks delay,” he explained.

Chahil tried farming through the difficulties that the muddy ground creates, but his tractor ended up getting stuck.

READ MORE: Stakes are high for farmers as 2022 crop shapes up to be Canada’s most expensive ever

At the same time, honey bees, which are vital to the growth of all types of berries, are staying inside their hives instead of pollinating, creating yet another blow to his business, Chahil said.

Peace Arch Farms usually sells their produce at various farm markets around the Lower Mainland – something Chahil has not been able to do so far this year.

After fighting back against last year’s floods and heat dome and now the cold, rainy weather, farmers throughout the Lower Mainland are not able to catch a break, Chahil said.

“It’s a really, really tough year for farmers.”

Many farmers Chahil speaks with are considering selling their land, if they haven’t already, he said.

It is not sustainable to keep businesses operating when it has become so easy for international produce sellers to take over now that most local farm crops are delayed, he explained, noting consumers don’t want to wait.

It’s a difficult decision to grapple with because of how ingrained farming is in the Punjabi culture.

“Farming is in our blood. We are happy farming, we don’t mind the hard work. We don’t blame nature, but we don’t know what to do now,” he said.

Chahil and his family work 16- to 18-hour days on the farm every day to make the business successful, but no amount of hard work will make up for the poor weather.

All he can do now is hope for more steady sunny days in the coming weeks, Chahil said.


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Sobia Moman

About the Author: Sobia Moman

Sobia Moman is a news and features reporter with the Peace Arch News.
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