The Senden Project - Sustainable Agriculture Resource Centre

~Submitted by: Alice Smith
Upper Skeena Development Centre purchased the historic Senden farm site two and a half years ago to restore and develop the property into an Agriculture demonstration site and resource centre. We were concerned about lack of facilities for programming and wanted to address food security, health and employment issues in the region. Since then our community “HUB” partners; Storytellers Society, the Village of Hazelton and the Bulkley Valley Credit Union, have invested funds to hire staff and to explore funding options; as a result we conducted a feasibility study which lead to the creation of a business plan for the next five years of operation and we were able to obtain funding from several sources to advance our plans.

Western Economic Development Pine Beetel Initiative has contributed the funds for the current rennovations of the farmhouse, landscaping work, a greenhouse and a community rootcellar. The Phase I work will be complete by the end of December. Our contractors working at the site have also been assisted by participants in a Job Creation Project which is funded by the Ministry of Housing and Social Development, Labour Market Partnerships Division. Five workers and a Project Foreman have been assisting with farmhouse rennos, landscaping and planting throughout the summer. They are learning new skills and benefiting from the expertise provided by the main contractors.

Phase II of the project involves the construction of a commercial processing facility to be located on the site where the old dairy barn once existed as a pool hall and restaurant. Funding is not yet secured for this part of the project, but staff are working diligently to explore the options.

When up and running, the Senden Sustainable Agriculture Resource Centre will provide lifeskills, employment and agriculture training. Hazelton Secondary School and Northwest Community College will begin to implement programs which will utilize the site. Specialized programming and resources will be avaliable for elementary school children, seniors and persons with disabilities. A resource and support centre will be avaliable for new farmers and existing producers. Senden will also operate as a farm business by growing crops which will be sold regionally and supply the Good Food Box program with fresh produce. It is our plan to create specialized products in the processing facility with a focus on wild, aboriginal brands. There will be many opportunities for local people to gather, preserve and create new products for sale in the global marketplace through a central processing and branding strategy that Senden will support. We are also working with existing producers and potential growers to increase production, provide variety and create new markets for their operations.

Watch for our new sign created by local artist Leah Pipe. If you have any questions about the project, contact Alice Smith, Ursula Heuberger, Jane Boulton or Marney Wookey. Visit our website or read our Senden Project newsletter