Bee Haven helps local growers prepare

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Paula Rice shows her greenhouse covered in snow as she discusses winter to spring preparations. Photo by TANNA YEOUMANS

BONNERS FERRY — Last August, community members came together in a focus group and discussed the topic of our Boundary County food system, which kicked off the 9B Community Potlucks and Local Food System Speaker Series.

“People who attended the focus group were interested in continuing work on this topic and doing something together,” said Kate Painter, agricultural extension educator for the University of Idaho. “This is a way to continue the conversations begun during the focus group, which examined the perceived Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (called a SWOT analysis) of our local food system.”

Casimir Holeski spoke first for the Speaker Series about his passion for finding fantastic old fruit trees in Boundary County, and propagating them in his nursery. He has a vision to bring a diverse fruit production back to the Kootenai Valley.

Paula Rice, owner of Bee Haven Specialty Cut Flower Farm, put on a presentation on the evening of Jan. 16 as the second speaker for the group. She spoke about her local flower farm, her vision for it, and her goals for it.

“She has worked extremely hard to develop her farm as well as her skills in flower production, arranging, marketing, and more,” said Painter. “Her honest portrayal of how difficult it has been was appreciated by the audience, which includes current small farm producers as well as a number of people who are interested in developing their own local businesses.”

Rice touched on how she prepares for the short growing season in this region on a yearly basis, gave growing advice to the audience, and answered a myriad of questions. She also discussed business and growing tips and tricks.

“I have a passion for flowers,” said Paula Rice.

Being a small producer in a rural community faces its own challenges such as finding labor and marketing the business. With a large amount of people that live in Boundary County falling below the poverty level, growing premium products that are priced as such so the producer makes a profit can be hard.

“We are working to remove some of the barriers to local production,” said Painter. “For example, we have a website called BoCoLocal.com that advertises local producers. There is a contact link on this website for folks who wish to have their local business listed in this online directory. This is just one of the efforts underway to help support local producers in Boundary County.”

For more information, contact Kate Painter, Boundary County UI Extension Educator, kpainter@uidaho.edu, 208-267-3235

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