Cold weather and rain are a growing concern for South Surrey farmers – Surrey Now-Leader

The rain, the rain won’t stop long enough for local farms to start growing berries and vegetables for the season.

Continued bad weather has held them back for weeks now, says Davinder Chahil, owner of Peace Arch Farms and Peace Arch Farm Market.

Chahil admitted he felt desperate due to harvest delays caused by cold temperatures and rain.

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

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

Chahil recalls that the strawberries were already available for picking on Mother’s Day last year, where this spring there is only mud in their place.

“We prepare the fields for planting, then it rains again. The fields are muddy, so we are delayed for two weeks. It’s raining again for a day, another two weeks late,” he explained.

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

At the same time, bees, which are essential for the growth of all types of berries, are staying inside their hives instead of pollinating, which is another blow to his business, Chahil said.

Peace Arch Farms usually sells its produce at various farmers’ markets in the Lower Mainland, something Chahil has been unable to do so so far this year.

After battling last year’s flooding and heat dome and now cold, rainy weather, farmers in the Lower Mainland aren’t able to take a break, Chahil said.

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

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

It is unsustainable to keep businesses going when it has become so easy for sellers of international produce to take over now that most local agricultural harvests are delayed, he explained, noting that consumers don’t want to wait.

This is a difficult decision to make due to the entrenchment of agriculture in Punjabi culture.

“Agriculture is in our blood. We are happy farmers, we don’t mind working hard. We don’t blame nature, but we don’t know what to do now,” he said.

Chahil and his family work 4 to 6 p.m. every day on the farm to ensure the success of the business, but no amount of hard work will make up for the bad weather.

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

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