The man behind a recent farming summit says the major takeaway is that it still pays to pay attention to water quality and sustainability even if you’re doing a good job at both.
Melvin Farms Ltd. president and co-owner Richard Melvin organized the ‘Water on the Farm: Back to Basics’ summit in Waterville alongside stakeholders, including the province and Horticulture Nova Scotia because Melvin says it never hurts to learn more about water quality.
“It’s something we need to remain diligent on – that’s the takeaway. We can’t back off on it, though the propensity on something that’s not causing a problem is that you forget about it. We want to be proactive versus reactive,” he says.
Among the presenters was Acadia University engineering professor and water quality expert Jennie Rand, who says she wanted to show there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to determining whether water is clean or not.
She says water quality is an area where “many different factors” can produce clean or compromised water supply.
But she says she would argue that Annapolis Valley farmers rarely leave these things up to fate.
“These farmers are very proactive and have become even better in their practices in the last little while,” she says, referencing the Gap Inc. non-mandated and university-run water quality monitoring program some farmers have opted into.
“It’s voluntary, and these farmers have opted in to further ensure their products are safe, so there’s a lot of action there.”
Melvin says this strengthening of existing connections between scientists and farmers is creating a two-way information flow between both communities.
“We want to ensure we understand issues relating to water quality, and if water quality isn’t what it needs to be for safety reasons, how we mitigate that,” says Melvin.
“This is a big topic – we’re trying to keep the focus on it on a consistent basis so we’re always benchmarking our sustainability and quality ensuring practices.”