Tuesday April 21 2015 7 INDUSTRY AGRICULTURE www.woodbuffalo.ab.ca IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR PROPERTY OWNERS The Property Assessment Notices for the 2015 tax year were mailed Friday February 27 2015 to all Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo property owners. If you have any concerns regarding any information on the Property Assessment Notice or you did not receive your Property Assessment Notice please call 780.743.7900 or 1.800.973.9663 and arrange to speak with an Assessor. Assessors will be available during regular business hours 830 a.m. to 430 p.m. Monday to Friday. If a discussion with an Assessor does not resolve your concern an Assessment Review Board Complaint Form accompanied by the appropriate filing fee may be filed with the Clerk of the Assessment Review Board. For more information regarding the complaint process please call 780.743.7001 or 1.800.973.9663 or visit www.woodbuffalo.ab.caarb. The deadline to submit an Assessment Review Board Complaint Form is 430 p.m. on May 1 2015. Council will set the 2014 tax rates in May. Property Taxes are determined by applying the appropriate tax rate to the assessed value shown on your Property Assessment Notice. Property Tax Notices will be mailed in early June. PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO REVIEW YOUR ASSESSMENT NOTICE CAREFULLY. Assessed ProPerty VAlue ProPerty tAx rAte ProPerty tAx Bill X For more information check out our web site at www.woodbuffalo.ab.ca or call us at 780.743.7900 or 1.800.973.9663. New crop of growers sprouting at Hay River farm school By MEAGAN WOHLBERG With spring in the air a new crop of stu- dents is ready to start sowing the seeds of gardening knowledge at the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River this week. Startingthisweekendapproximately15stu- dentsfromacrosstheterritorywillbecomethe first batch to participate in this years monthly courses at the agricultural school beginning with a three-day session on seed selection. SpringIntoPlantingYourSeedwillfocuson selectingseedsschedulingandstartingplants and seedling care giving students hands-on planting and transplanting experience out at NFTIpresidentJackieMilnesowngreenhouse. Studentswillthenreturnhometotheircom- munities with their own planting kit ready to starttheirgardensnextmonthwhentheground warms up and the chance of frost diminishes. Now in its third year offering courses to students from as far north as Fort Good Hope down to Fort Smith NFTI offers training in seeding designing and planting a garden creating forests of fruit and nut trees North of 60 garden maintenance and marketing food harvesting preparation and storage and large and small animal husbandry. Thosesixkeycourseareaswillbetaughtover a period of three days each month throughout the summer ending in late September. The idea is that the classes sort of syn- chronize with the season and the activity you would be doing that month so the stu- dents come learn that and then go home and implement that for a month and then come back Milne said. Its organic in its process. Land secured for campus After two pilot years of getting courses off thegroundatMilnesownfarmnearHayRiver NFTI is now on its way to having its very own campus located at the abandoned Northern Pork hog barn just outside of town. NFTI recently secured a five-year lease for the260-acrelotfromthemunicipalitywiththe optiontorenewforanotherfiveyearsthanksto federalfunding.Lastyeartheinstitutereceived a2-milliongrantfromtheCanadianNorthern EconomicDevelopmentAgencyCanNorwhich hinged on substantial support from the town as the flow-through agency. The municipality and CanNor then worked out a deal to have the land leased as an in-kind contribution though NFTIwillberequiredtopayfullpropertytaxes. While the crew is waiting for the snow to melt before launching into full-bore construc- tionanddemolitionatthesite-wheredecrepit buildingsandvehiclesneedtoberemoved-they have been anything but idle over the winter. NFTI managed to secure a workshop space where theyve been able to build a number of modular units to take out to the new site which include housing for students bath- rooms and kitchens. Overthesummertheinstituteexpectstohave employedatleast20peoplefromofficestaffto labourersandinstructors.CurrentlyNFTIisin themarketforgenerallabourersgreenhouseand gardenassistantsandamarketgardendirector. Right now the site consists of a series of meadow clearings surrounded by mixed forest with a spectacular view of the Hay River valley below.Milneandherstaffarealreadyexcitedly pointingoutwherethestudentsyurtsaregoing togowhereberrybusheswillbeplantedwhere acafeandgardenmarketcouldthriveandwhere studentsfromasfarasNunavutmightinthefu- turefullyimmersethemselvesintheirlearning. The beauty of having the institute is it will give us the capacity as the students increase in their skill set to be able to come for longer periodsoftimeshesaid.Soifsomeonewants to move to specialization say you just really love greenhouses we could have interim positions of a month three months a whole year whatever to learn that whole process. Spreading skills across the North As the first agricultural school of its kind in the North NFTI is designed to empower students with the basic experiential knowl- edge required to return to their communities armed with applied skills in food production so that down the line communities are no longer dependent on the often unaffordable unhealthy options at their grocery stores. Milne who originally began her foray into teaching by traveling throughout the terri- tory offering gardening courses said she real- ized she could create a more lasting legacy of food sovereignty in the North by establishing a permanent campus where students could learn how to produce food for themselves their families and communities. With Aboriginal culture traditionally they really believed that they were secure when ev- eryonewassecure.Thatswhatgivesussecurity. Whetheritsatafamilylevelacommunitylevel astatelevelacountryoragloballevelwhenwe really have security is when we have all of our needsmetsaidMilneaMtiswomanbornand raisedinHayRiver.Thathasreallytouchedme and I realized that I could influence more food being produced by helping other people learn than what I could physically grow myself. I re- alizedthatwasprobablythefastestwaytodoit. Students are already running with the knowledge theyve obtained from NFTI over the past few years. Milne said there is an ab- solute food revolution going on in Fort Good Hope with four more fresh faces from the community coming to join the NFTI move- ment this spring. Further south in Fort Smith the garden capital of the North Kymberlee Sellwood took the plunge last fall and bought a plot outside town that shes now actively trans- forming into farmland. Sellwood took three courses in garden de- signwildcraftingandgrantproposalsthrough NFTIlastyearandsaidshewasblownawayby the amount of economic support available for Northern farmers. It was then that she and her partner Corey decided to go for it reclaiming theareahehadactuallygrownuponasachild. Having been unoccupied for over a decade Sellwood said the feat ahead of the duo is daunting - basically starting in the nega- tive - but manageable. Itscompletelyovergrownandwildshesaid. The soil is sandy and heavily compacted so Imworkingonbuildingupasoilcomposition. Over the next year Sellwood plans to plant 50 Saskatoon berry bushes and add tonnes literally 10 tonnes of chicken manure to the garden. She also needs to find a sustainable source of water on the premises and build some of the greenhouse structures to extend hergrowingseason.Afterthefirstyearofhard work is done sheep and chickens will likely be brought on board to graze down and fertilize areas for planting. Sellwood said her farm project is turning out to be a much tougher effort in ecological restoration but said the support she contin- ues to get from Milne and NFTI keeps her going even when its overwhelming. I cant help but want to be part of this Northern farming movement she said. Jackie is so passionate about what she does so Im easily inspired. Milne said the commitment she sees blossoming across the territory shows the will is there all Northerners need is just some free time to learn the art of food production. Its so encouraging to see it have such a strong effect she said. It was even more than I anticipated. PhotoKimRapati PhotoMeaganWohlberg NFTI founder and president Jackie Milne shows where the market gardens will go at the institutes new farm campus. Greasy Bacon is one of two Berkshire sows owned by NFTI currently housed at Milnes farm near Hay River.