Moving, and the Search for Land

Well, it’s been a while, and a lot has happened for this farmer. For starters, I moved from Pemberton, back to beautiful Vancouver Island – the part of the world that this nomad still thinks of as Home, in the ultimate, capital “H” sense. It’s where I hail from. It’s where I want my roots to grow, both in a figurative and literal sense. And while this may not be forever, it’s true for now, which has been confirmed since moving back. Simply put, I love it here.

But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t also grow to love Pemberton, and it doesn’t mean that leaving there wasn’t hard. Because it was. Leaving behind the mountains and the incredible natural beauty of that place, as well as the people there, was difficult. Over the nearly two years that I called Pemberton home, my life got to be filled with a lot of beauty. Beautiful people who became great friends. Beautiful meals cooked with those friends, made from beautiful food that we/they had grown. Beautiful skies, beautiful bike rides, beautiful hikes, beauty that hit me upside the face as soon as I stepped out the door. It’s not everywhere that your days get filled with so much to be grateful for. So thank you to Alyssa, David, Naomi, Lisa, Kate, Teresa, and the many more who made my time there so special.

Simone, showing off an early bunch of carrots in 2016.
Sarah and Buster sharing a kale snack in the field.

If saying goodbye to Pemberton as a whole was hard, saying goodbye to Rootdown, and Simone and Sarah – the hard working, kick ass women who put their hearts and souls into that farm, who breathe life into that place – was especially hard. Because that farm and the people surrounding it, gave me so much. After a couple of very challenging years farming, spending time at Rootdown helped restore my faith in farming as a livelihood. And working for Sarah and Simone helped me to realise (or remember?) that women could be at the helm of a farm, and they could do it incredibly well, despite not being 6 1/2 feet tall and weighing some 240 lbs. Working at Rootdown showed me a workable example for the scale of farm that I want – something I had a sense of, but had never experienced. I learned so much about the craft of farming from them, but of equal importance, I also learned a lot about communicating, and bettering myself as a person from two people who are very committed to all of those things. I feel incredibly lucky to now call Simone and Sarah friends and farming mentors. Thank you.

Rootdown pigs napping in their forested home in early summer.

However, despite the hard good byes, move I did. And now I am in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island and am searching for land to lease in order to start my own small farm in 2018. I am seeking land, and am also working on a farm plan, a business plan, and spending a lot of time researching and thinking about the type of farm I want. My days are surprisingly full. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. These things take time and effort.

There is unused farmland out there, for sure. It is more a case of finding the right fit between myself and a landowner. I am looking for somewhere I can lease 1-5 acres, ideally, for 2-3 years to start, with the likely chance of extending that lease for a much longer term so that my efforts in building the soil and managing weeds will not be wasted. I am looking for a piece of land that I can cultivate and steward, a piece of land where I can build a sustainable farm business, and support myself while feeding the community around me. I am looking for a piece of land where I can get some of these ideas that are bouncing around my head out of there, and into the soil. Where I can see if they will work, or if I need to revise them – there will be a lot of that, I’m sure. That is a part of what makes farming so interesting, after all!

Right now my options range from a plot of land under an acre, mostly deer-fenced and with some other positives; to a four acre piece of raw pasture with all the infrastructure set up to do; to a co-op community farm model seeking a farmer or farmers to set up shop; and a few other options in between.

Which means, in short, that I have a lot to think on and mull over these days. You can expect to hear more from me in the weeks and months to come, as all this transpires – so stay tuned!





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