Amy Rubidge stands at her farm gate with a basket of very fresh eggs.

2013 Sooke Farm Tour: Barefoot and loving it

Barefoot farm is part of the annual farm tour taking place on Aug. 18

Amy Rubidge is carrying on a legacy left by the pioneer Poirier family — she’s farming. Rubidge and her partner Matt Saxelby are running Barefoot Farm on Kemp Lake Road. The couple is one of a growing number of young farmers who see a different way of life for their family. The farm is part of the original Poirier property and the house they live in now is built on the foundation of the house which was built in 1895 in the village of Sooke and later barged by scow to the farm on Kemp Lake Road. Six kids were raised in that house where Poirier made a living raising sheep and growing potatoes. Now a new generation of farmers iscalling it home.

Rubidge has a small farm on two acres and is working at making a living from it. She purchased it in 2007 and has been continually upgrading the land and the produce and products she sells. She has chickens which lay dozens of eggs a day and she sells them, as well as fruit, plants and flowers from her farm stand along the road. When she first bought the place there were hundreds of chickens and just the sheer volume of work was too much for a mom with one and three year old kids. She trimmed the flock to 100 birds giving her more time to diversify the farm. She sells her eggs to chefs in the community and to Village Food Market, as well as at the farm gate.

Visiting her and her kids on a warm summer afternoon, Amy and the kids were cleaning garlic and onions under the shade of an apple tree. It’s a labour of love.

“Things worthwhile take a lot of time,” said Rubidge.

Along with the garlic and onions, Rubidge also nurtures some heritage apple trees, planted in the last century. It’s a micro-farm with a little bit of everything,

two acres is not large for a farm but she is utilizing it as much as possible. She grew up around avid gardeners and it’s a lifestyle she is familiar with.

“I feel it’s a really great way to bring up kids. There’s not a lot of downtime, we’re busy in the summer. But, it’s really a lifestyle choice and I appreciate the community around farmers. Small things become special and you appreciate rather than consume,” said Rubidge.

She said her kids are learning math and science through gardening as well as knowing where their food comes from and what it takes to get it on the plate.

A healthy lifestyle and caring for yourself is an important factor at Barefoot Farm, which got it’s name from the fact that Rubidge’s daughter loves to run around barefoot.

The supportive community of farmers in the Kemp Lake area is very much appreciated and they network and teach each other what they know. The local farmers have banded together to hold a farmers’ market at the Kemp Lake Store on the last Saturday of the month from May to September.

“There’s a real team aspect in the community,” she said.

Barefoot Farm will be just one of the stops on the annual Sooke Food CHI Farm Tour, scheduled for Sunday, August 18 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Stops on the tour in 2013 stretch east from Happy Valley Lavender and Herb Farm in Metchosin as far west as Silver Cloud Farm on the border between Shirley and Otter Point. Along the way drivers and cyclists are invited to detour to eight other area farmgates: Eagle Paws Organics, Ragley Farm, Mrs. Lewers Farmhouse, T’Sou-ke Nation Ladybug Garden, ALM Organic Farm/Full Circle Seeds, Barefoot Farm, and Tugwell Creek Farm & Meadery.

Everyone is invited to bring a stack of shopping bags to carry home fruit, veggies, plants, take-and-bake pies, jams and jellies, free-range eggs, collector daylillies, dried lavender, cosmetics, bottles of mead and other tasty takeaway products available for purchase at the height of the growing season.

Food will be available at two stops – Ragley Farm and ALM Organic Farm – and five of our farms have level terrain and accessible pathways suitable for special-needs visitors. Tickets are available now at the Sooke Country Market on Saturdays.

The Farm Tour ($12 per adult; free for kids 12 and under) highlights working farms featured in the latest edition of Food CHI’s annual Food & Farm Guide. The event is a fundraiser for a variety of Food CHI community initiatives, which include the Sunriver Community Garden and the Sooke Farmer2Farmer Network.