by Kristy Aleksich
Hop Creek grass fed cattle (Photo by Darby Magill).
When you think of Squamish, you probably picture mountains, not farmland. You might picture a busy highway, not animals grazing in a pasture. Maybe Squamish isn’t as famous for its sustainable, organic farming as it is for its active, outdoor lifestyle but it’s here, it’s thriving, and if you didn’t know that agriculture was happening right in our own background– well, SURPRISE!
And what a wonderful surprise it is. Living in a world where people really care about where their food comes from is amazing. Having people who really care how to grow it, cultivate it and care for it so by the time it makes it to your mouth, you are enjoying fresh flavours and plenty of nutrients is AWESOME.
We tracked down a few several local farmers to find out more about sustainable agriculture in Squamish. What we found were passionate and dedicated people who have made their family businesses a part of the Squamish community while providing quality products and reducing their carbon footprint.
Tracy of Stony Mountain Farms carrying fresh eggs.
Take Stony Mountain Farms for example. Named after the rocky outcrops that jut up from the natural surroundings of the farm, owners Tracy Robertson and Dan Price started producing free range eggs, holiday turkeys and heritage pork in 2008. A regular at the Squamish Farmer’s Market, this couple believes in raising healthy, happy animals that produce flavourful meats. They are processed ethically and carefully, without antibiotics or the other ploys of mass production. Very appreciative of the support they’ve received over the years, they love that people have become more conscientious of what foods they are serving and eating and are hoping to continue producing wonderful, delicious meats to the community for years to come.
Burt Wright and his family on their Hop Creek farm (Photo by Darby Magill).
Over at Hop Creek Farms, Burt Wright and his family are raising beef and lamb out in the pasture and forest surrounding their farm, along with chickens and pork. Farming is in Burt’s blood, raised on his family farm in the Caribou that started back in the 1800s. Branching out on his own in 2018, Burt and his family have seen a definite increase in the demand for organic foods, and even more importantly, the increase in the consumer demand of knowing where their food comes from. At Hop Creek (named after the hops that grow around the property and the neighboring creek), you won’t find any pesticides or herbicides and the fertilizer is derived from compost and animal manure. Products are mainly sold to the local Squamish market, with community as a main focus. Says Burt, “Squamish has an interesting micro-climate, much different from the nearby Fraser Valley with less heat and higher rainfall. This makes the forages for livestock grow exceptionally well here.”
Vegetables also thrive in the Squamish Valley, and Nutrient Dense Farms is growing and providing the Sea to Sky with food and plants that matter. Nutrient Dense is a small scale urban and rural farm that grows a diverse range of seasonal vegetables following an intensive style of cultivation. Owners Stefan and Lindsay believe not only in ‘you are what you eat’ but also ‘plants are what they eat’. They are passionate about soil and its complex ecosystem, how nutrients cycle through soil and into plants… and ultimately into the people that eat them. You can find their gorgeous leafy greens, root vegetables and other freshly foraged products at their farm stand or Squamish restaurants Fergie’s and the Salted Vine.
Lavendal Farm Organic Lavendula
Over at Lavendal Farm, Vanessa Busch and her family are cultivating over 400 organic and pesticide free Lavendula plants and creating essential oils. They have also branched out into fresh farm eggs and garlic this past year. Their plants thrive well in the wet Squamish weather as the sandy slope the farm is built on drains well. After making appearances at the farmer’s markets and fairs this year, they are thrilled to see the community taking an interest in their 100% pure, locally produced products and intend to continue to grow agritourism in Squamish for everyone to enjoy.
Whether you’re munching on a fresh carrot from a farm, tucking into a juicy burger made from local meat or inhaling the scent of fragrant lavender grown and dried right here, connecting with and appreciating our local farmers is important. It’s scary to think that one day we could live in a world where none of this is possible- so get out there and support these local growers, ranchers, planters and cultivators. They make the world a better place.
Follow Kirsty on Instagram @kfm_aleksich