By Rick Rake, Guest Blogger
Where in Abbotsford do cows practically milk themselves? Where in Abbotsford are the environment and fair treatment of animals recognized as priorities? And where in Abbotsford can you witness it all and then pick up a basket of fresh food for your next meal?
Don't think twice about it: Bakerview EcoDairy and Nutrifoods Market at 1356 Sumas Way, Abbotsford is your destination. Just look for a big red building.
To celebrate the opening of both operations, Abbotsford's glitterati clinked glasses filled with Fraser Valley wines, devoured scrumptious morsels created by chefs from the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre, and toured the "green" facilities, an incredible dream now realized by Bill Vanderkooi, Nutriva Group president and CEO.
Here’s a rundown of the evening:
First stop was for the "quickie tour" in the comprehensive learning centre directed by lead
volunteer Christine Wiebe. She was proud to show us how her "girls" mosey on up to the robotic milker, where lasers help locate their teats. The centre shows school groups, families and tourists how dairy farming is changing and, most importantly, where milk comes from.
"It's like a wine tour, but for all ages," said Vanderkooi.
Ingrid Epp, manager of guest experiences at the EcoDairy, was quick to point visitors in the right direction. Among them were Abbotsford Mayor George Peary, Abbotsford MP Ed Fast, Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen and Steve Thomson, B.C. Minister of Agriculture and Lands.
Aside from a healthy guest representation from the City of Abbotsford, Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, the business community, and the realm of community politicos, the roster read like a who's who of the Fraser Valley.
Nutriva marketing manager Tanya Curtis was all smiles under two huge festival tents, arranging the speakers who sang the praises of the new green ventures and sent their well-wishes to the Vanderkoois and their five young children.
Leah Eyjolfson and Melissa Jones from Sister Spirits Beverage Services poured wine that included Domaine de Chaberton’s Madeleine and Gamay; Township 7’s Merlot and Viognier; and Lotusland’s Cab Franc and Chardonnay.
Nutrifoods Farm Market next door to the EcoDairy is also a real treat. Have a look. It offers local fresh foods, responsibly produced; DHA Omega 3 enhanced milk from the dairy; eggs from Bakerview's chickens; and a deli serving Cobs bread and Starbucks
coffee. Local food producers are showcased.
And if you didn't know already, Bill Vanderkooi has invested $4 million into this first demonstration farm and market of its kind in Canada.
The 41-year-old dairy farmer has a master's degree in animal science. His goal is to dispel the impression that agriculture has to be environmentally messy and cruel to animals.
If you want to view live webcams of the cows, explanations of the operation's anaerobic digester, and how the environmentally sound facilities are run, visit www.NutriFoodsMarket.com and www.EcoDairy.ca.
But why not see for yourself? And when you do, remember to check out the goats grazing on the grass roof of the barn.
Copyright © 2010 Kathleen Rake. All rights reserved.