In the Beginning
Melanie MacInnes, one of the two partners of Be Ingredients, grew up at the location of MacInnes Farm’s. Feeling a strong desire to keep MacInnes in the family through the generations. She has been inspired by her mothers’ and fathers’ dedication to farming and hard work, as well as the environmental aspects of the property from spending long days exploring every inch of the property as a child. MacInnes Farms currently supports Rod and Wendy MacInnes, as well as Kevin and Krista MacInnes and their two daughters, Ivy and Isabel. MacInnes Farms started off as a cow/calf and feedlot operation in 1977 in which Rod and Wendy farmed fulltime and eventually expanding to 600 head of cattle. Within two years feed costs had doubled, causing the price of cattle to drop, thus they sold their cattle. Rod and Wendy had their name on the dairy quota build-up program for young farmers and were accepted, so as they phased out their beef herd they switched to dairy farming in 1981.
To support the farm financially Rod was strained to work fulltime as an electrician, as well as working fulltime as a farmer and Wendy took multiple part time jobs while caring for her two children and taking on the role of maintaining the paperwork involved in the family farm. In 1989 the milk quota was sold as calculated risk mitigation in fear of changes due to the then, new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). From 1989 to 1993 they raised dairy heifers and sold hay. They also saw that the equine culture in Langley and the Fraser Valley had been growing steadily and saw an opportunity to convert MacInnes Farm’s into an equine operation, converting many of the buildings into horse stalls.
Cottonwood Trees and Filming
In 1993 there was an opportunity, subsidized from the government to plant cottonwood trees for pulp used by Scott Paper, so Rod, Wendy his two children Melanie and Kevin planted 12,000 cottonwood trees on 36 acres. They were able to sell pulpwood to Scott Paper Inc. up to 2005, until Scott Paper closed their pulp mill and the market for Cottonwood trees become obsolete. Around 2005 Scary Movie 4 discovered the property on a chance fly over and gave Rod and Wendy MacInnes the financial boost they needed at the time to continue with their equine operations and wait for a commitment from their children to build their own equity and decide whether they could invest their time and money into farming the land. In the meantime Langley Township’s commitment to filming and the governments tax credits for film products drew other productions to the property, in particular, When Calls the Heart, by Janette Oke about an Albertan farming community. The book focuses on good community values and working together through diversity. This show has a group of dedicated fans, 48,000 that call themselves the Hearties.
And then Be Ingredients….
Although Melanie left to attend university and start a family of her own, she continued to come home to visit and work. Melanie met her husband Andrew Hamer in 2002 and he fell in love with MacInnes Farm as well. They are united by their love of sustainable agriculture and supporting local agriculture. Andrew and Melanie saw an opportunity for hazelnut trees because of the void left after 95% of British Columbia’s hazelnut farms were wiped out due to the Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) and came across Nature Tech Nursery who were growing EFB resistant hazelnut trees. In April 2016 they purchased 5 acres worth of EFB resistant hazelnut trees that will be delivered for planting in October 2017.
As well Melanie and Andrew saw an opportunity based on demand for local sourced ingredients for cider and craft beer and recognized that their combined skills provide the foundation needed to open a farm that focuses on the ingredients used in the craft beer and cider industry. One acre of barley was grown successfully and hand scythed last year and 5 acres was harvest this year with the help of the Langley Farm Museum. MacInnes Farms has precipitous topography making traditional farm equipment unmanageable and therefore antique harvest equipment works best for the land. Last Fall Rod MacInnes, owner of MacInnes Farms and Andrew Hamer drove to Alberta to pick up a 1950’s threshing machine in good and successfully brought it back to MacInnes Farms.