‘It can be so hot it burns the fruit off the plants’: How Sunshine Meadow Farms is coping with drought-like conditions

Farm’s inaugural summer riddled with extreme weather events
Harpreet Nagar stands in front of her stand at a farmers market. All photos supplied.

For as long as Harpreet Nagra can remember, farming has always been a part of her life. 

Her parents were farmers. Her husband was a farmer. And growing up in India, Nagra loved to grow vegetables and fruits.

She felt something special about transforming a vast, open plot of land into an oasis of living plants: ruby red strawberries hanging off vines, green beans dangling off a bush, or blueberries sprouting from a perennial plant on a warm summer day. 

“Back home, this is what our profession was,” Nagra said. “It’s our passion — this is the way [I] grew up.” 

After moving to Canada, Nagra co-owned a farm in South Surrey with two partners. She helped run the farm for a decade before selling her stake and moving to Pitt Meadows to run her own business. 

“It’s beautiful here,” she said. “Honestly you feel like you’re in another world. . . . There’s mountains, it’s very peaceful, and it’s good for farming.” 

In March, Nagra dedicated Sunshine Meadow Farms on the intersection of Old Dewdney Trunk Road and Harris Road. 

In her first few months of operation, Nagra was forced to navigate what so many B.C. farmers have had to endure in 2023: the rollercoaster of weather associated with climate change. 

More than thirty heat records were broken across B.C. in May, as the province experienced an unusually warm spring heat wave. 

Following a few days of rain in May and June, Pitt Meadows then set a heat record on Aug. 14 — reaching over 33 degrees, which beat the previous record for that day, set in 2010, by over a full degree. 

“There are some challenges with the weather,” Nagra said. “It’s not stable weather. It’s either lots of rain, or the heat.” 

Coping with climate change

This summer hasn’t been as hot as two years ago, when a heat dome blanketed the province and sent temperatures over 40 degrees in many places across B.C. 

A study later concluded the heat dome was amplified by climate change and could become a once-per-decade event.

Nagra said they have had to deal with a volume of rain early this spring before trying to adjust to warm temperatures in May. 

“We had to flood the backfields, so we were a little behind,” she said. “Now it’s too hot and it damages our plants.” 

Specifically, Nagra is concerned about planting berries on her farm in the future because of the heat.

Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are sensitive, she said, and drastic changes in weather may prevent the fruits from growing. 

“This environment changes the impact on the plants, they’re not producing well, strawberries look dry. We have raspberries, but it can be so hot it burns the fruit off the plants because it’s a sensitive fruit,” Nagra said.  

“We’re scared, we want to keep our farms alive.” 

Sprouting new plants

Despite the obstacles associated with the weather, Sunshine Meadow Farm has quickly ingrained themselves in the Pitt Meadows community. 

The farm, which is open eight a.m. to eight p.m. daily, doesn’t supply to stores — but rather offers their produce on-site or at farmers markets in places including White Rock, the Lonsdale Quay, Port Coquitlam, and Pitt Meadows.

Sunshine Meadow Farms has also added a presence on TikTok, averaging nearly 1,000 views per post. 

Nagra said the farm relies on customer service, constantly being available and showing people respect.

Moving forward, Nagra is hoping to build a larger greenhouse that will allow her to grow more vegetables — such as tomatoes and cucumbers — and protect her crops from the changing weather. 

Inside Nagra’s current greenhouse on Sunshine Meadow Farm.

“The farmers markets start in May, so that will help me prepare for the early markets,” she said. 

Sunshine Meadow Farm is also planning on freezing the best berries of the season and staying open all-year round. 

Although Nagra moved to Pitt Meadows recently, she wants to share her lifelong love of farming with the local community.

“It gives us happiness when we see, like, our raspberries are really nice looking,” she said. “That’s what we want to see, and that’s what our customers like.”


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