Darvonda Nurseries’ popular Glow Harvest and Glow Christmas events are facing closure after receiving a notice from the Agricultural Land Commission on March 5 that said the events do not meet ALC requirements for farm use.
“Basically the ALC is saying that we absolutely must apply for a non-farm use permit. But unfortunately we don’t agree,” explained Tamara Jansen, founder of Darvonda Nurseries.
Jansen added she disagrees that the greenhouse should have to apply for non-farm use, as it uses farm goods to host the Glow Events, such as pumpkin patches, and corn mazes.
According to Jansen, the greenhouse company wants to comply with ALC legislation – they just don’t know how to.
“Basically they [ALC] say we don’t fall under their legislation, when if you look at the legislation, we do. We don’t even know what it is that they think doesn’t conform,” said Jansen.
Right now, Jansen said the greenhouse has until April 5 to apply for non-farm use status, but she’s leery to do that because there’s no guarantee that permission would be granted.
“We’re exploring our options, but it doesn’t look particularly good right now,” she added.
Avtar Sundher, director of operations for the Agricultural Land Commission confirmed Darvonda Nurseries received a compliance assessment with the ALC legislation that stated the Darvonda Glow events do not meet the requirements of what a “harvest festival” is.
“A harvest festival is something that is allowed under our definition of agri-tourism, but it requires the marketing of farm products and selling of farm products that are produced on site. They [Darvonda] didn’t quite meet that because there’s other products that are marketed and sold there,” explained Sundher.
Sundher added the issues surrounding the Glow events arose last year, after the ALC received complaints about the festival, and inspected the property.
The ALC then sent a letter to Darvonda Nurseries requesting details on the Glow events.
According to Sundher, the ALC received the report from Darvonda Nurseries at the end of January.
After reviewing the report, the compliance assessment letter was sent out.
“All we’re doing is assessing compliance, and they didn’t meet the regulations for those requirements in order to be considered agri-tourism.”
Options for Darvonda Nurseries include submitting an application for non-farm status, or changing the event to comply with agri-tourism regulations.
While Jansen is unsure of how to proceed with the Langley Glow events, she did reveal that Glow will be expanding to ten cities this year, which will be announced on April 2.
“It’s pretty darn exciting, I just wish that we knew that we could do it here in Langley. It kind of hurts. We love this city. We love being able to open our doors to the community,” Jansen added.
Last year Glow also had shows in Edmonton, Alta., and Barrie, Ont. Jansen said she hasn’t had issues hosting the events in other cities.
Jansen explained Darvonda Nurseries operates in a way of, “modern farming,” and wants the ALC to understand that farming has changed.
“I’m concerned the ALC was put in place years ago when our greenhouse industry wasn’t really big yet. We need the ALC to look at this kind of industry and recognize this is modern farming. This is an intense way of farming and it’s producing tremendous amounts of food and flowers,” Jansen said.
Sundher explained that some regulations that limit non-farm economic activity can include having 50 per cent or more non-farm products, having a retail sales area of more than 300 square feet, and that there is a 10-day limit for gatherings.
Sundher added if the greenhouse was to apply for non-farm use, it would go before the local municipality first.
Mayor Jack Froese said if that were to happen, he would approve.
“It’s the appropriate process according to the Agricultural Land Commission. There are other examples in the Township where farms have applied for non-farm use and obtained it,” explained Froese.
Froese added that he agrees with Jansen’s opinion that farming has changed significantly.
“I think agriculture is something that’s not just putting potatoes in the field, plowing them, picking them, and selling to wholesalers. A lot of farmers have to be innovative – and they [Darvonda] are innovative. It’s part of agri-tourism, and agri-tourism is good for promoting agriculture to people who aren’t necessarily exposed to it all the time.”
Froese added the absence of Glow events would have a “negative” effect on the community, since the annual events have enhanced the economy by bringing thousands of people to the Township.