Learn more about us, the people and farming on Salt Spring Island.
SSI Agriculture Alliance
The Agriculture (Ag) Alliance was established in 2008 to oversee the implementation of the Salt Spring Island Area Farm Plan. The Ag Alliance represents local agricultural interests and works with governments, the private sector and other non-profit organizations to support agriculture initiatives on Salt Spring Island. The umbrella organization relies on volunteers, farmers and partner organizations to achieve the goals in the SSI Farm Plan.
Purposes of the Ag Alliance
The role of the Agriculture Alliance is to:
Oversee the implementation of the Salt Spring Island Area Farm Plan;
Represent local agricultural interests at all levels of government;
Work with various governments and governmental agencies on agricultural matters concerning SSI;
Provide a central contact and resources for individuals and agencies on agricultural matters;
Assist with the marketing and promotion of Salt Spring Agriculture;
Find and secure funding and resources to support agriculture;
Solicit support and input from the broader community;
Identify, receive, assess and share approaches and ideas that support the mission of the Salt Spring Island Area Farm Plan; and
To engage in other activities deemed from time to time to be in the best interests of agriculture on Salt Spring Island.
Board of Directors
The eight organizations participating in the SSI Ag Alliance are represented on the Board of Directors. The 2022 Directors (listed below) were appointed by the member organizations at the March 28, 2022 Annual General Meeting.
Anne Macey, Ag Alliance Chair (Island Natural Growers, Abattoir Society)
Theresa Duynstee, Ag Alliance Vice Chair (Island Natural Growers)
Marguerite Lee, Ag Alliance Treasurer (Salt Spring Farmers Institute)
Daria Zovi, Ag Alliance Secretary (Island Natural Growers)
Anna Pugh (Salt Spring Island Chamber of Commerce)
Bradley Damsgaard (Salt Spring Farmers Institute)
Brian Webster (Market Society)
Deborah Miller (Transition Salt Spring)
Francine Carlin (Community Economic Sustainability Commission)
Mike Lane (Salt Spring Farmers Institute)
Farming on Salt Spring Island
The Census of Agriculture reports farm numbers and economic factors every five years. In 2016 there were 196 farms and 290 farm operators.
There are 2,943 hectares of land in the Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) on SSI, and more than 3,000 additional hectares of land outside the ALR has zoning that allows agriculture and/or is classified as ‘agriculture’ by BC Assessment for tax purposes. Approximately 17% of Salt Spring Island is in the ALR.
The 2017 Agricultural Land Use Inventory (ALUI) conducted by the BC Ministry of Agriculture found that 802 ha in the ALR and 309 ha outside the ALR was actively farmed (total 1,133 ha). A substantial proportion of the ALR (27%) is covered by natural or semi-natural vegetation (e.g. trees and shrubs), wetlands and/or waterbodies and is not currently agriculturally productive.
There is a diversity of crops produced on SSI (see table). However, the vast majority of agricultural lands are used for pasture (43%), forage (29%) and forage and pasture (19%).
Area of Crop Types on SSI (Source ALUI 2017)
* Other includes lavender, sweet corn, blueberries, hazelnuts, Christmas trees, nursery, oats and specialty crops.
Livestock activities are small scale and many farms have a mix of animals. Poultry (meat birds and laying hens) is the most common type of livestock with less than 100 birds for most farms. Horses, sheep, goats and beef cattle are also found on SSI farms.
In 2016, total gross farm receipts was $13,804,319, while total operating expenses were $11,931,661 resulting in a gross margin of 13.5%, a substantial increase from previous census years. However, over 64% of farms reported gross farm receipts of less than $10,000.
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