Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) installed two new water control structures on Qualicum Bay’s Echo Valley Farm last week, in order to help the farm continue producing five million pounds of potatoes and 500,000 pounds of cranberries a year, as well as providing valuable habitat for wintering birds.
DUC entered into a conservation agreement with landowner John Walsh about 28 years ago, at which time two water control structures were installed at the farm. The life of these initial structures have ended so DUC returned to install new structures as well as do some upgrade work.
“It was a win-win situation for everyone,” Walsh said of the initial agreement with DUC. “It controls water in a much better fashion.”
The structures control the water flowing in and out of the 400 acre farm, allowing for active farming during the summer months and a flooded wetland area for waterfowl in the winter months.
“On the East Coast of Vancouver Island there is not a lot of areas like this,” said Jeanine Bond, Ducks Unlimited Canada conservation specialist.
Bond said the farm provides a great habitat for ducks, swans and geese while allowing them to feed on remnant potatoes, one of the best food sources for birds in the wintertime.
Walsh said one of the main benefits of the structures to the farm is the mitigation of soil erosion. The farm is a peat bog, which is a special type of wetland made up of much decomposed moss, and is renowned for having poor drainage. Before DUC came in, the farm had trouble keeping the soil from running off during heavy rains, Walsh said. With the water control structures the soil is able to settle out and as a result much less is lost.
Walsh said birds love the sensitive land, made up of water and organic matter.
The new structures are expected to sustain the biodiversity of the farm for at least the next 30 years.
Walsh’s father started the Echo Valley Farm in the early ‘50s and his family continues to run it today. The farm sells all of its produce on Vancouver Island, donates large amounts to the local food banks and provides full time and seasonal jobs for residents.
For more information about the farm call 250-752-5205. For more on Ducks Unlimited Canada and their projects visit www.ducks.ca.