ALM saves and shares seeds and offers advice

Local farm with long history retains seed legacy in many ways

  • Apr. 25, 2012 9:00 a.m.

ALM Organic Farm has been a strong force in the growing community for over 20 years. The farm was first started by Jan and Mary Alice Johnson and since its inception many others have added their skills and passion to make the farm a vibrant and beautiful hub of food production in the community. On the farm they practice sustainability by growing, harvesting, preserving, and marketing food and teaching others how to do the same.

The farm was first cultivated in about 1910 when the Harris family bought the land as a turnip farm and built a two storey salt block home on 20 acres. It acted as a spill over for the Scarf house which was the stagecoach stop when Otter Point Road was the main route to Jordan River, Shirley and other points north of Sooke. The farm has been owned by a number of families since then but was bought by Jan and Mary Alice Johnson in 1986. At that time the land was covered with Scotch broom, the house was in disrepair and the barn listed to the north. Jan and Mary Alice restored the farm house with the help of friends.

“We began producing food commercially in 1990 using organic methods and were certified organic in 1994. Immediately restaurants and individuals sought out the organic fruit and vegetables grown on the farm and folks interested in learning how to farm organically started to visit and volunteer on the farm,” says the farm website.

To date, over 1,000 volunteers have spent from a day to several years at the farm learning how to grow food. At the farm they teach such skills as growing, collecting and drying medicinal herbs, building temporary and permanent shelters using natural materials around us, baking bread, making baskets, welding, animal husbandry, plant propagation, orcharding, bee-keeping, seed saving.

In 1990 they began saving seeds for their own use and this practice grew into a thriving retail and wholesale business. To that end, on April 28 the gates will be open at the farm and people can come out and purchase seeds and plants.

Planting guide:

April Weeks 1 & 2

Seed in trays:+lettuces (every two weeks to  one month to Sept.), bok choi, chard, scallions, fennel

Direct Seed (outside): +potatoes, peas, spinach, salad brassica’s etc.  1st- radish, carrots, beets*, herbs, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, runner beans, parsnips (W), kohlrabi

Weeks 3 & 4

Seed in trays/pots: +lettuces, cukes, basil.  first- summer squash

Direct seed (outside): +peas

The second annual ALM Organic Farm Plant & Seed Sale is around the corner- just in time for spring planting. The sale will take place on the farm at 3680 Otter Point Road in Sooke on Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The sale will feature a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers both annual and perennial perfect for gardens big or small as well as a full offering of the Full Circle Seeds collection. All seeds and plants are certified organic and grown on site. Farm staff will be available to answer your questions. Bring the whole family to come see the farm and purchase plants directly from the growers.

ALM Farm and Full Circle seeds can also be found weekly, in season, at the Moss Street Community Market and Sooke Country Market.

www.almfarms.org

www.fullcircleseeds.com

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