Spring Visits to the Boundary KBFA advisor Andrew Bennett toured the Kootenay-Boundary region this spring and shared some highlights from his tour:
Westbridge Glen Millar was told it would be impossible, but for more than 35 years he has grown good yields of juicy, delicious blueberries on 2 acres of beach sand on a 30° east-facing slope under a canopy of Ponderosa Pine, using microsprinklers and a philosophy of working with nature. When the fire ripped through Westbridge in 2015, only his house was spared, but the blueberry roots have now returned and are starting to yield well again. He started with just a few plants and uses coppicing-hilling to propagate new plants for very low expense. Drop-by in blueberry season for U-pick!
Greenwood Alison and Cam Anderson of Greenwood Garden Goodies have taken on the sub-2-acre farm status challenge and are now far exceeding the $10,000 gross income requirement for small farms. They’ve terraced everything on their steep property overlooking Greenwood, using rocks they dug out to create walls and microclimates to grow grapes, berries, and vegetables. They’ve built hoops and a microgreens room with cool-bot coldroom storage to grow higher value crops, and have hens on hand to clean up the waste and make new soil. Their veg, preserves, and other goodies are available at their farm-gate honour-system shed.
Bridesville Stan Howard of Bridesville is always looking for a simpler way… instead of silage tarp as a no-till way to smother weeds and prep his beds for seeding, he uses billboard tarps from Edmonton that he gets for free. Billboard tarp, although normally landfilled, is actually tougher, heavier, more wind-resistant, and longer lasting than silage tarp. Stan says it’s as easy as contacting the advertising agency (e.g. Jimmy Patteson) to find out who their billboard installation contractors are, and they’re often keen to find a cheaper way to offload their used billboard tarp. Transportation from the city (e.g. Vancouver, Calgary, etc.) is the major challenge, so here’s one to go in on with a group of farmers to hire a semi-load to bring this way!
Granby River – East Side Dieter and Elisabeth Bay of Sand Creek Organics grow all their own fruit, vegetables, and medicinal herbs in a “food forest” on a steep, sandy, south-facing hill they’ve terraced by hand. Drawing on Dieter’s background as a biodynamic horticulturalist and landscaper, the 8-year-old orchard is really diverse, with flowers, berries, and many herbs growing under young trees that include hardy varieties of almonds and apricots. They overwinter on homemade “green power” mixes and preserves from the “pumphouse pantry” full of water pipes and pickles. Elisabeth’s work as a healer and educator will soon be housed in a bright studio built from site-harvested timbers, straw-clay walls, heated earth floors, and natural plaster finishes. Using clay dug from nearby, you can’t get much more bioregional. KBFA will host a field day at Dieter and Elisabeth’s in July, join us there to learn more!
Granby River – West Side Skye Fletcher runs Thimble Mountain Farm as part of a co-op community, growing all manner of vegetables, herbs, and flowers irrigated by gravity from a raging mountain creek. Skye’s projects include a series of hugelkultur beds he first started 6 years ago, with a large core of pine logs and branches covered by a thick pile of leaves and 2” of compost on top. He grew melons and squash at first, when the mounds were three-feet high, and now they’ve rotted down to rich soil for strawberries and more. Last year he also re-dug and drained a semi-sunken greenhouse that is now growing herb and plant starts to fill out his 1-acre market garden, and to sell to local gardeners.