Resilient Farms for Coastal BC: A Resource Guide – Part 1 of 2

Resilient Farms for Coastal BC: A Resource Guide – Part 1 of 2

Tayler     August 29, 2018   

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Table of Contents

I. About this Resource Guide

This Resource Guide has been compiled by Hatchet & Seed as part of the project: “Keyline Water Management: Field Research & Education in the Capital Region.

More about the project which ran from 2015-2017, including a project overview and the results of our keyline plow monitored field trials, can be found at the project website

II. Acknowledgments

This online Resource Guide would not have been possible without the help from "Keyline Water Management"  project partners, funders, advisors, host farms & farmers, as well as all of the participants who shared their farming insights at seminars & field days.


Funding for this project has been provided by the Governments of British Columbia and Canada through the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The program is delivered by the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative. The Capital Regional District (CRD) Integrated Watershed Management Division also contributed funds for water management seminars on the Gulf Islands as well as event space in the CRD Boardroom.

Project Partners

CRD Integrated Watershed Management
BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative
Peninsula Streams

Advisors & Special Recognition

Sara Duncan, P.Ag
Darren J. Doherty, Regrarians
Kent Mullinix, Ph.D., P.Ag (Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems)
Mike Doenhel (Barley farmer)
Gord Baird, Eco-Sense
DeLisa Lewis, Ph.D., Research Associate, UBC
Natalie Bandringa, CRD Integrated Watershed Management
Ian Bruce, Peninsula Streams


We acknowledge that we are as visitors on the traditional territory of the WSÁNEĆ(Saanich), Lkwungen (Songhees), Wyomilth (Esquimalt) peoples of the Coast Salish Nation.

III. Disclaimer

Opinions expressed in this document are those of the author and not necessarily those of the funders, project partners, and advisors of the associated project, “Keyline Water Management: Field research & Education in the Capital Region.”

IV. Using this Resource Guide & the Regrarians Platform®

This resource guide is designed as a starting point for solving issues related to farm water management. The intention is to use the theme-based FAQ format to organize online resources that can be used to help answer your questions related to water management. Not intended as a definitive guide, it hopes to leverage the work of other organizations, resource people, and publications to point you in the right direction in your search for solutions to climate adaptation.

Because we are using the Regrarians Platform® (see below) as an organizing tool, we have also included resources for non-water management related topics, like resilient Buildings, Fencing, Energy & Economy. While outside the scope of this project, we wanted to share some useful resources on these topics in the context building a resilient whole farm.

If you have a question that relates to resilient farm development that you do not find here, please email it to Similarly, if you have further resources or solutions to contribute, please email them as well. Updates can and will be made.

The scope of this guide is limited to the rain shadow climate of Southern Vancouver Island, Canada, however, we do hope it can be helpful elsewhere as well. For more on this climate, see section 1.1.


The Regrarians Platform®

The Regrarians Platform® has been developed by Darren J. Doherty of Regrarians Ltd. It is a built off the work of P.A. Yeoman’s ‘Keyline Scale of Permanence’.

Here are several resources on the Keyline Scale of Permanence and how it is being used a land planning tool:

V. Resilient & Regenerative Agriculture Defined

Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”.

As we look ahead to the prospect of producing food in the next century and beyond, it is important to consider how we can make our farms more resilient in the face of changing weather patterns. How can we maintain productivity through these climatic challenges?

Potential challenges for agriculture in BC include: increased coastal flooding; increased river/valley/surface flooding; drought; water supply shortages, salinization; fire; nutrient leaching, pest & disease outbreaks, energy input costs & market shocks.

For the purpose of this resource guide, we define ‘resilient agriculture’ as a production system that is capable of both mitigating and adapting to the challenges above.

The following is a list of organizations working on these issues in BC:

Regenerative Agriculture
‘Regenerative Agriculture’ is another term being used to describe agricultural production that enhances biodiversity and soil health. These practices are inherently more resilient. There are several producer groups and research/policy institutes involved in defining and creating standards for ‘Regenerative Agriculture’. The following are some:

Other organizations are working to define and standardize the movement:

For the purpose of this Resource Guide, we are focusing on farm strategies and techniques that work to achieve several of the following goals:

  • Increasing organic matter % in soil to act as a water & nutrient sponge and sequester carbon in the soil
  • Add perennial, aboveground biomass to the farm landscape in the form of multi-functional trees, shelter-belts, and shade trees
  • Foster a healthy, diverse and active soil food web for nutrient & water cycling and disease prevention
  • Improved infiltration for effective groundwater recharge
  • The responsible management of aquifer or groundwater
  • Responsibly balancing both drainage and water retention strategies
  • Increased surface water storage for use in irrigation

VI. Defining Personal & Farm Context as a Foundation for Decision-Making

While outside the scope of this guide, we cannot over-emphasize the importance of defining your personal and farm ‘context’. Resilient farms need resilient farmers, who are capable of making tough decisions while balancing complex and sometimes conflicting interests.

Pioneering work has been done on this exercise (creating a Holistic Context) by Alan Savory, Holistic Management International & the Savory Institute.

There have since been others influenced by the concept of creating a ‘Holistic Context’ and have shared tools & services to help others. Some can be found here:

Whichever tool or method you use, it is very important to develop a farm decision-making framework that works for you, the ecology that supports your farm and for your bottom line. Resilient farms need resilient farmers!

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