Situated at the mouth of the Fraser River Delta, many in British Columbia know Westham Island as home to the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Alaksen National Wildlife Area. It is also home to Abtar Singh’s organic vegetable farm, one of a few farms in British Columbia supplying organic produce to local stores. Abtar is one of the first partners of DUC’s On-Farm plan in the area.
Abtar, known as Ab, joined the On-Farm plan in 2003, and began a model partnership with DUC that now spans decades. The agreement gives him the funding he needs to pay for the expensive machinery and staff needed to run the farm to its full potential. He also receives help from DUC in the form of science-based recommendations for advanced solutions for cover crop types, ditching, and manure application; all customized to the requirements of his specific farm.
In return, DUC plants a winter cover crop on his farm, alternating barley and wheat. The cover crops provide food and a safe place to rest for the over one million migrating birds who use the Fraser River Delta as a stopover along their migration path, as well as supports the almost five million shorebirds that call the area home.
A long-term commitment is necessary to benefit both the farmer and conservation goals in the area. A partnership like the one DUC has with Ab combines resources and provides a far greater pooling of quality waterfowl habitat than DUC, or any other conservation organization, could ever hope to achieve on its own.
Ab Singh can see the fruits of his dedication to the partnership, when snow geese use his winter crops to refuel during their migratory journey. “The Canada geese and snow geese would give this partnership a two thumbs up!” Ab says.
DUC is grateful to partners on the land like Ab, and hope others will follow in their conservation-forward footsteps to help provide sustainable food for people and for waterfowl.