Shrubbing Out Environmental Risks at Rivershore Trees

Rivershore Trees (which has done business as Rivershore Holdings Ltd.) is a wholesale plant nursery specializing in producing ornamental trees, grasses and native shrubs for retail nurseries, landscapers, and municipalities. Owners Peter Barss and Katherine Lawrence first became aware of the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) Program from seeing the implementation signs posted at other farms in their neighbourhood. After investigating and discovering that with an EFP, they could access cost-shared funding for the types of improvement projects they wanted to take on, they decided to get their very own EFP.

An EFP is an on-farm agri-environmental risk assessment that helps farmers identify potential environmental risks within their operations and educate them about how these risks can be mitigated. The EFP Program provides farmers with access to Planning Advisors who work with them to complete their EFP workbook. In the summer of 2023, Planning Advisor King Campbell visited Rivershore Trees to complete an EFP with Peter and Katherine. With a completed EFP, the farm was eligible to apply for the Beneficial Management Practices (BMP) Program.

The BMP program provides cost-shared funding for producers to complete projects that tackle risks identified in their EFPs. Farmers can decide what projects they want to tackle through the program and apply under different funding streams depending on the type of project. “We like that the program makes the improvements we are undertaking financially possible and that we are guided but in control of our priorities and how we accomplish the required EFP improvements,” Peter says, “We also like that we are responsible for completing a majority of the work under our projects – it is no free ride.”

So far, Rivershore Trees has completed a Nutrient Management Plan, an Irrigation Management Plan, a Water Management Plan, and a project to replace and relocate two fuel tanks which were in current use when Peter and Katherine purchased the nursery.

“With the support of the BMP program, we were able to prioritize the expense to replace and relocate these [farm fuel] tanks. We are very happy and relieved to now have double walled, ground level tanks in a safe location, which has greatly reduced the risk to the environment,” says Peter.

While they functioned, the fuel tanks were older and in a poor location. It was determined that these tanks should be replaced with new double-wall tanks and relocated to a better spot. The new tanks will also be protected by new bollards, which will prevent accidental collisions.

“IAF’s BMP program website was invaluable in helping us understand the program, how it can help us, and how to get started.” Peter says, “We joined the program less than a year ago, and in that time have launched six projects. All the professional advisors (hydrologist, agrologist, etc.) we have worked with for our projects have been excellent and we would not have learned about them without the BMP resources.”

Funding for the EFP and BMP Programs is provided by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, under the Beneficial Management Practices Program. The programs are delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.

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