Mary Alice Johnson

Down on the farm

Sooke Farm Tour offers participants hand’s-on experience

Ever wonder as a kid what your grandparents were doing out working on the farm in the middle of a summer day? This Sunday (July 19), you get to find out as you will tour not one, but eight farms in Sooke.

And unlike your grandparents, who would more than likely ask you to sit aside with a little shovel in hand and watch, visitors will engage with the farmers thanks to an all-hands-on immersive experience.

“In previous years, people just came and looked, but this year, we’re gonna put them to work,” said Mary Alice Johnson, founder of the ALM Organic Farm in Sooke. She added that the idea here is to raise interest in farms and farming with youth and adults alike.

“It’s about getting people doing things on the farms, touring the farms, but it’s also to share our passions and our challenges,” Johnson said.

With an expected 300 attending this year, the tour can be either self-guided or fully-engaged with the farmers who will be there to talk to people and take part in activities. The tour starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.

There’s also a whole new set of different activities this year, including seed cleaning, and soil blocking – a process in which visitors will be able to create separate cubes of soil without using a single piece of plastic.

Johnson said children are especially welcome (kids 12 and under are free), as there will be several activities for them to take part in, such as “bug bingo” and a sculpture hunt around the farm where they get to find all these hidden animal statuettes such as a pig, a dog, and a rooster.

“We’re hoping to get a lot of people with kids, because there will be kids who live on the farm that will want to work with the kids who come to the farm, and that’s just fun for everybody,” she said, adding that she hopes the experience will connect kids with food and eating healthy.

Johnson said all proceeds from the event goes to support growing more food in the local community, adding that the money will indirectly trickle back into mentorships for new farmers. The goal is to try to get an incubator farm to help people get started on farming.

“Our passions are the growing of the seed, creating good food, sharing it with the community,” she said, adding that ALM has always been a teaching farm.

“ALM” is Arabic for Alif Lem Mim, which stands for “the Beginning, the Middle, and the End.” Johnson said the name was chosen by her late husband Jan for his consulting company. She added that sees farming as cycles and seasons, so her farm adopted the same name.

Tickets for the Farm Tour can be purchased for $15 at People’s Drug Mart, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sooke Country Market, Stick in the Mud and Sooke Home Hardware.