I’m often asked by people who wish to move up to Prince George and what makes our community unique. I’ve cited many of the same points as others: lower cost of living compared to major urban centres, the possibility of direct entry into meaningful employment and, of course, the endless outdoor recreation opportunities in every season.
Yet in the last few years, I’ve come to realize there is another compelling opportunity that isn’t necessarily on many people’s list: the chance to farm or backyard homestead! I discovered this hidden advantage to Northern life for myself after my family bought land three years ago.
It’s important to note that while farming definitely has several challenges, there is nothing more rewarding than growing and consuming your own livestock, produce, or eggs! What’s more is that with the proper planning, even a single acre farm can yield impressive and lucrative results.
Step one: Find land
Counter to popular belief, the dream acreage or rural property does not, in fact, have to be large or expensive. There are dozens of subdivided plots less than 30 minutes away from downtown Prince George, some of which are even within the Agricultural Land Reserve. All of these lots vary in size and housing allotments, so be sure to look around.
Step two: Buy some hens because everyone loves eggs
Purchasing laying hens, constructing a hen house, and harvesting their eggs can all be achieved within 6 months by taking a couple hours each weekend to complete the project. Hens are easy to feed, they can be purchased as chicks or pullets online, and there is a ready market for free range eggs throughout the city. Try selling your eggs at the Prince George Farmers’ Market or the University Farmers’ Market.
Step three: Check your dirt and location for new ideas
Between a soil sample and asking neighbours for suggestions, you can decide what to do next with your land. Often, a combination of small-scale livestock and a large garden work best, especially if you make the effort to use your animals to enrich the soil for fruit trees, berries, or even flowers.
Step four: Reap what you sow, consume what you produce
Many small-scale farms raise animals from young to harvest weight, keeping one and selling the others to make a profit or pay for next year’s livestock. As the weather turns cold, making preserves of your produce is a great family activity; and thanks to the renewed interest in locally sourced food, there are plenty of people to ask for guidance right here in our community – some of them even give classes! Try contacting Hope Farm Organics or Northern BC Edible EcoGarden Design.
I hope these suggestions inspire you to take up the rewarding challenge of farming on any scale! Whether you’re just moving to Prince George and looking for a place to settle for the long term, or you’ve always wanted to move out to the country, there is no better way to keep active and benefit from your investment. I wish you the best of luck.