Looking for a local farm or farmgate? Here’s just a small sampling of what is in your neighbouring farms. The following were some of the providers of the TAKE 5 “Locally sourced” Christmas Dinner in the Dec/Jan 2014 edition. Enjoy!
Merridale has been in existence for over 20 year, and we have owned it for 13 years.
We have 20 acres at the farm, plus a couple of other Cowichan Valley and two orchards in the Okanagan growing for us. All outside growers grafted from ours, and our trees originally came from England, France and Germany. This is one of the main differences between our cider and commercial ciders. We use cider apples rather than eating apples. This gives our products sharps and bitters derived from the tannins and acids which can’t be found in the eating variety. We produce approximately 130 litres a year of cider.
We face the same challenges all farmers face, but the Cowichan Valley does provide excellent climatic conditions for cider apples. In fact, cider apples grown here on the island are superior to those grown in the OK. This is due to the long growing season, not too hot or cold, and we are in a rain shadow. All good. However, consumers all look for quality but want it at the same price as mass produced, lower quality products.
The most rewarding part of the business is when all the pieces come together, and we have happy customers, staff and an excellent product.
We think people should care about buying locally grown food because it is important to know the quality of the input in everything you put into your body. Plus we support the local economy and we take care of our physical environment when we reduce our carbon footprint.
Our products include spirits, fermented from product grown on Vancouver Island, and distilled here in the Cowichan Valley and cider all-natural, locally grown and produced. With over seven different varieties currently in production, there is sure to be one to suit anyone’s palate. Find our products on tap at such places as the Crow & Gate or the Horseshoe Bay Inn, and fine private liquor retailers.
We have a farmhouse store that is stocked full of gourmet foods made by local artisans and small lot production farmers from around the Cowichan Valley and Vancouver Island, as well as a Bistro featuring locally-sourced gourmet meals prepared by our Red Seal chefs. Open for lunch and dinner, see our website for hours. A visit to Merridale makes a charming day trip for the whole family. Take a self-guided tour of our orchard and production process, then enjoy a guided tasting at our Cider bar. Supporting local, selling local since 1999.
LIVING SOILS FARM
Ian and Rachel Jones: We are cultivating about three acres. We grow a variety of fresh vegetables including carrots, beets, spicy mixed salad, kale, spinach, chard, garlic, storage onions and leeks. We use cover crops and organic based nutrients in addition to vermicompost rather than herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Ian Jones, the main grower, grew up on a farm in Manitoba and has grown food every place he has lived. We have been in the Yellowpoint area for over 20 years and have sold veggies at the Cedar Farmers Market for the past six years.
The biggest challenge is marketing and the amount of hard work involved. The most rewarding is our customers’ appreciation of good quality, nutritious and locally grown food. Estimates of how much food we grow on the Island range between 2-5% and we think that this is a very serious concern. We are seeing a loss of good arable land to developers and low pay for people interested in developing the skills.
Our farm gate hours are 12 until 4 on Sundays. We are planning to be open for the rest winter selling carrots, beets, onions, leeks and some greens. This will depend on the severity of the winter. Find us on Facebook under Living Soils Farm.
Brian and Cathy DeClark: My husband Brian and I have run our hobby farm in total about 15 years. On our 9.3 acres we grow Hazelnuts, garlic and keep mason bees, with a few other things under way. Our products are chemical-free. Deer, squirrels rabbits and a lot of manure over the years have helped to build up the soil.
It’s the people I meet who buy our products get me up every morning to do my job. I have met the nicest people over the years and have even built up friendships
If anyone wants 5-10lb. boxes they have to phone and pre order for next year and they pick these up at house when ready. When in season our farm gate sign is out from 9:00am until 6pm.
Nick and Lavonne Dudink: We started the farm in 2006 and work approximately eight acres focusing on a variety of berries. Three quarters of the farm is planted with strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries and red and black currants. The rest of the farm is divided among several other crops: spinach, potatoes, beets, carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, garlic and cauliflower Nick is originally from Holland and has been working the land since he was a young boy, and loves being out on working on the farm. A sense of pride is what both have from producing healthy fruits and vegetables. We feel strongly about the need to be more self sufficient and being able to support ourselves with what we eat.
Strawberry season in mid June is the start of the farm’s busy season, and we are open daily until late fall, call 250-740-0302 for hours. For more information check out our web site www.dudinksgarden.com/Welcome_.html
ART OF BREWING
Art Lindala: I started about 40 years ago as a hobby brewer and now I’m the victim of a hobby gone wild!
My biggest challenge is insuring customer satisfaction. Most of our customers by far are happy with the results of the products they receive from our premises and we will strive to satisfy all with our 100% Satisfaction or money back guarantee.
Most rewarding to us is hearing from happy customers and being the beneficiary of their referrals, as well as hearing from international wine and beer judges and winning medals at various competitions throughout North America.
I feel people should care about buying local food and drink because we as consumers and citizens of our community should strive to buy as much as we can in our own home town as this practice will keep resources alive and well here. Our local businesses should also try to support other locals with B2B relationships that will inevitably help our community. We, at Art of Brewing, have introduced a policy to buy all we can here in Ladysmith first and then the surrounding areas on an outward radiating priority model. Our feeling is that as we spend our dollars in Ladysmith and area, we will be helping local employers and employees become stronger and help to grow our local economy. www.artofbrewing.com
We farm 53 acres on the shoreline of Michael Lake in Yellowpoint, our main crop being u-pick Blueberries. We also grow grass fed beef, free range pork, and chickens. I have grown up in the farming world. My parents were beef and dairy farmers and I guess you could say it was born into my blood. I have always had a special place in my heart and soul for plants and animals. For the past 40 years I have learned and seen what happy and healthy animals need – a natural diet, lots of sunshine and freedom to move.
One of the challenges we are finding in the farming world is customers who are willing to see the value in the local product and the natural benefits of knowing, seeing and tasting how their food was raised , where and what is going into the food they eat, and to keep them coming back as repeat customers. As well, there are ever raising costs of feed, fuel and the regulations that we have to comply to in order to sell our products. Another challenge is the lack of young people getting into or staying in the farming industry. The average age of most farmers today is 60+ years old, and so in the next 10 to 15 years if we don’t start to see more young people wanting to grow local food, we are going to lose this industry and lifestyle.
For myself and my family the greatest rewards in farming is knowing who grew the food we eat , how our food has been raised and treated and what has been fed to the food we eat. To have my children grow up and learn the importance of healthy lifestyle and food is so important to me. It is my hope that others will try to teach the next generation of just how important it is to support locally grown food and all of its benefits for their own health as well as the benefits of keeping the community strong.
Our farm gate sales are by appointment only, except in blueberry season, when we are open Friday to Sunday, daylight till dark. Our website is www.steldblueberryfarm.com
KIWI COVE Peggy and Doug Kolosoff
We have been harvesting kiwi for 11 years. Hazelnuts have been planted in 2013 and we expect to begin harvesting in 2015. Small scale farming is only viable if you do everything yourself but it’s a healthy lifestyle. We think people should care about buying locally grown food because when farmers can sell locally they save time and transportation costs.
Orders can be phoned in, October for arguta kiwi fruit and in March for fuzzy kiwi fruit. Jams are available year round. www.kiwicovelodge.com
It is a dream come true to be at Hazelwood Herb Farm for the past four years. The farm is just under five acres and has been here over 25 years. I grew up in Delta, in a neighbourhood where everyone grew their own vegetables. My parents taught me how to process and can fruits and vegetables from the garden and how to smoke salmon.
It is never dull working on the farm. Every season brings new focus to the work we do. Starting in the winter, we are growing seedlings for the nursery and preparing the gardens. Our nursery is open in the spring and carries hundreds of different herbs for sale. Many of them can be seen in our display gardens where customers can find inspiration to find new purpose for growing herbs.
Throughout the summer we are growing and harvesting our herbs. It is also a busy time for processing, making the jellies, chutneys, mustards and vinegars with fresh herbs.
We grow a number of culinary herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, winter savory and French tarragon. They are dried on the farm and packaged in our herb blends and spice rubs. Some are used in teas, such as the lemon balm and bee balm. Other traditional herbs such as calendula, St. John’s wort and comfrey are infused in oils to make cosmetics and salves.
In the fall we are busy packaging our products and getting ready for the Christmas season, including the Artisans Tour. It is fun to share our recipes with customers. In fact, it is our customers that give us a lot of tips that lead us to discover new recipes. There are so many possibilities when it comes to using herbs and there is always something new to try. It is challenging to find just the right recipe that is going to appeal to our customers. At the end of the day, it is always satisfying to create something new out of plants that we have grown ourselves.
While we get a boost from tourism during the summer months, it is the year round support from our local customers that allows us to maintain a year round operation. Shopping locally means that the money spent stays in the community. For our farm, it means we can hire locally and purchase local goods and services. For example, we use honey and beeswax from Fredrich’s Honey to make our cosmetics. In addition to boosting our local economy, fuel costs for transportation of goods are reduced when we sell directly from the farm.
Shopping By Candlelight – This year’s event is going to be a drop-in, no reservation required. We will have the kitchen open to welcome shoppers with tea and samples of our farm favourites. The store is open every day from 11 am to 5 pm until December 24. We will reopen in the spring on April 24,2014.
8 1/2 ACRES
Cam and Pauline Kee share the farm with Talyn Martin and Mike Shelton:
Besides cleaner air and cleaner soil there are several other reasons that are in line with our values that brought us to buy as local as possible and brought us to farm. People must care about buying locally grown food. Organic and locally grown is best. Especially food that can easily be grown here. For example, buying local apples supports your local farmer and economy. When we buy apples from California, we perpetuate buying apples from California because we’re not giving our local apple farmer business which means he’ll be out of business and won’t be able to afford to farm. Buy local food as much as possible because less fuel is consumed that way. There are wars being fought in far away countries over fuel. People just like us in these far away countries are dying and this is not necessary. Also, food imported to our country is food taken away from the people of another country. Yes, there are some companies that fairly trade with foreign farmers but many still do not. In order to keep up with demand, some of these foreign farmers use pesticides and other non-environmentally considerate techniques to get a bigger yield. This depletes the value of their soil and pollutes their environment. And to keep up with demand, some countries do not even get to enjoy their own crops because most of it is exported and the price is too high for them to even buy it. This has become an issue in Peru with quinoa. I also once traveled to Colombia and could not find the high quality of Colombian coffee we enjoy here in Canada. It is easy to eat local. Delicious too. Organically grown on Somenos Rd. Farm stand is open Tues –Sat 11-6pm. wwww.facebook.com/8andahalfacres.