Ron and Pam Tamis took over a family beef operation in 2002, starting out with just 11 head of cattle and 1,000 bales of hay. Over the years, they’ve added a pumpkin patch, sweet corn, potatoes, squash, and a variety of other vegetables. The whole family helps out on the farm, including Ron and Pam’s three young boys.
“The best part about having a small-scale sustainable farm is that we can make a living for our family and do it together,” says Ron.
One thing the Tamises have learned over the years is to monitor the weather – and be prepared for anything. In general, the Fraser Valley has a perfect combination of climate, soil, and environment for growing. Thanks to mild winters and plenty of precipitation, a variety of crops thrive better here than anywhere else in the country. But farmers still need to be aware of the environment, and prepare for anything the elements can throw at them, says Ron. Contingency plans will help ensure you don’t lose your crops.
“In Surrey, moisture used to be the biggest issue you’d face as a farmer,” he says. “But the past few years are trending hotter and drier, which means you need to rethink crop selection.” For example: are you growing something hearty enough to contend with a drier overall climate? Should you invest in an irrigation system? You also need to be aware that climate patterns are cyclical. For rainy years, you’ll still need a good drainage system.
“While we’re blessed to have an ideal climate for growing a variety of different crops in the Fraser Valley, we also need to be aware that nothing ever goes as planned,” says Ron. “It pays to think about what you’d do in case of any possibility.”