The Windermere District Farmers’ Institute is holding a fundraising auction this weekend to help get the abattoir and agriculture park going.
“This is a chance for us to raise some cash to get started,” said Windermere District farmers’ Institute projects coordinator Hedi Trescher. “We’re looking for (more formal) funding, but this will give us a start before we begin looking for grants.”
The auction and free concert will be held on Saturday, October 5th at the Windermere Saddle Club (near the crossroads) at 9 a.m. There will be live music from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. as well as some cowboy poetry reading, following by the auction at 11 a.m. There will also be a sheep dog herding demonstration by John Zehnder.
“It will be a fun event,” said Mrs. Trescher. “It’s something for anybody, not just farm stuff.”
Items up for bid at the auction include a quarter of the first steer to be butchered at the abattoir, a load of manure, a load of firewood, hay, gravel, arts and crafts, tools, gift certificates, food baskets and several other things.
The farmers’ institute will use the money raised to pay for some design plans for the abattoir site, said Mrs. Trescher.
The plans will call for the site, near the Invermere crossroads, to be more than just an abattoir.
“We have this land that is so well situated, we want to use it for local food and food security,” she said. The site will have a feedstore, which will hide the abattoir from view. The vision includes the part of the site along Highway 93/95 having food and farm-related commercial developments, such as a local food restaurant.
The middle of the site could become a type of agricultural fair ground, with a stage. There will probably also be an interpretive booth, showcasing and explaining local agriculture and local food production in the valley.
“It’s not set in stone, it’s an idea,” said Mrs. Trescher, adding that although the plans may seem ambitious, the institute thinks it can realize its vision with help from private enterprise.
“We want to partner with businesses, organizations or co-ops, we’re looking for people that can help us maybe make it happen,” she said. “We won’t do it in one shot, we’ll do it step by step.”
The fundraiser is chance for the public to get an idea of the institute’s vision for developing the site and members of the public can even make suggestions on names for the agriculture park.
There was a fair amount of opposition when the site was re-zoned to allow for an abattoir, but the idea of making the site into a full-blown agricultural park has generated a lot of interest, according to Mrs. Trescher.
“I think it’s been well-received, it just shows it’s not just an abattoir,” she said. “That’s a benefit to the whole community.”