Rob Galey has found a new way to grow to his strawberries

Rob Galey has found a new way to grow to his strawberries

To fight pests, strawberries get armour at Saanich farm

Galey Farms buys wind tunnels to block deer, geese

Rob Galey has found a revolutionary way to grow to his strawberries.

He is using drip irrigation, plastic mulch and wind tunnels. The new system has taken him years to develop and has increased production, reduced the water bill and keeps the Canada geese and deer away.

“We are having earlier production and the strawberries came two weeks earlier this year,” Galey said.

He is also increasing yields this year with the 150,000 strawberry plants at the Blenkinsop Valley farm in Saanich. “I think this will really pay for itself if I can extend the strawberry season until October or November.”

The most obvious addition, at least for outsiders, is the five wind tunnels the Galeys purchased in Pennsylvania, drove back on a B-train truck to the farm and installed in March.

Together, the tunnels span 70,000 square feet and are designed to filter out UV rays, capture the wind and stop geese and deer from destroying the crops.

“The tunnels run from north to south and they help accelerate the wind flow. My leaves are always moving and they are always dry. You don’t want stagnant air around the leaves.”

Within the tunnels, Galey has installed drip irrigation – replacing traditional sprinklers – which cut water costs by 50 per cent which the Saanich farmer anticipates will become 80 per cent.

As part of the irrigation system, soil is covered with a sheet of plastic and mulch and the plants grow through holes. The plastic has multiple purposes – it keeps the water from evaporating and separated from the berries and the leaves.

“This is a high-efficiency water system that get the water directly to the root system,” Galey said. “We have not had any fungus. The moisture is what causes the mould and fungus.”

The plastic also helps keep the soil warm in the evening and cooler during the day. Weeds are unable to grow under the plastic and berries stay clean as they are not hanging in the dirt.

“All the weeds are gone and paying for weeding is a huge cost,” said the third generation farmer. “Weeding is also a (job) nobody wants. We could not find enough labour for weeding.”

For the past five years the farm has been operating on municipal water after the farm’s pond water became too polluted due to the Canada geese that permanently call the farm home.

“With all the geese in the watershed the quality was not as safe as before,” Galey said.

A vivid memory of Galey is being called out to the field by his grandfather when he was 10.

“There were two Canada geese in the field and we were excited. We’d never see one before,” Galey. “Now they never leave the farm.”

Last December the Galeys downsized its 150 acre crop production by 25 acres  due to damage from deer and geese. It’s a problem that remains, but the wind tunnels should at least provide defence for the strawberries.

“Our losses last year (due to Canada Geese) were devastating.”

charla@goldstreamgazette.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read