Jill Winstanley and Sylvia Hancock share the farm and the chores.

Farm share is a growing movement

farmers take part in second annual Farm & Food Garden Tour

Jill Winstanley, best known in Sooke for her talents as an artist, is turning her creativity to something a little less pictorial and whole lot more pastoral.

A farmer at heart, Winstanley and her partner Simon are farm sharing with Sylvia Hancock and her partner JP and their two little girls.

Bella Terra, along Kemp Lake Road, is a five-acre farmstead where the women are trying to grow and produce everything they need food-wise. They do everything themselves from milking cows, growing food, raising and butchering meat birds to making cheese.

“I always farmed and had animals and stuff and I’m getting back to it,” said Winstanley. “We do everything ourselves from start to finish.”

Bella Terra is in its fledgling year and the efforts made by these young farmers is beginning to pay off mainly because they share the work load and the costs. Jill and Simon bought into the farm.

Farm share is a way for like-minded folks to accomplish their goals of becoming self-sufficient. The Winstanleys had been coming to the farm regularly over the past two years and this year they settled in full time.

“We knew each other’s visions, “ said Hancock. “It’s a solid partnership without expectations. It grew from there and we’ve added pieces as we go along. I provided the property, Jill has knowledge — it’s a symbiotic relationship and we are learning by leaps and bounds.”

Farming, as everyone knows, is a lot of hard work and dedication and if the load can be shared, it is easier all the way around. While they aren’t certified organic, they do attempt to do things as organically as possible. Their chickens are in “chicken tractors” which is a system of allowing the birds to free-range in moveable cages. The chickens get all the benefit of being outdoors but not the risk of predators. They fertilize the fields at the same time. Bella Terra is raising 300 meat birds this year, along with a few milk cows, goats, and turkeys.

It is sustainability through diversity.

Both of the women have outside jobs to help pay all of the bills, but their goal is to be on the farm without the need for outside work. That’s for someday, but right now they are learning everything they can. The kids, Jacinthe and Jemma love being on the farm as much as the adults do.

On Sunday, August 14, the Bella Terra Farm will be one of 11 farms and growing gardens in the second annual Farm & Food Garden Tour sponsored by the Sooke Food CHI (Community Health Initiative) and the District of Sooke. This year the farms are all in the western end of Sooke, says Phoebe Dunbar, one of the organizers.

Farms of interest include Edward Tuson and Gemma Claridge’s farm where they are raising pigs, have earth ovens and are part of a cow share. Don Collis at “The Swamp” shows people how he reclaimed three acres from a swamp back in 1974.

They all have interesting stories to tell of how they got into the business/lifestyle of farming.

“All the people are there to share the information,” said Dunbar. “you can learn a lot and not in a ‘preachy’ way, there’s a lot of information out there.”

Dunbar says the Sooke are now has approximately 30 working farms. Of the 16 proteges who took the farm mentorship program through Sooke Food CHI, nine of them are now producing food.

“It’s nothing like what it was,” she said, “but a few years ago there was not many.’

The self-guided farm tour is a great way to spend a day, said Dunbar. “You could even cycle it.”

Fresh produce will be for sale and the information, of course, is at no charge. Kids under 15-years-of-age get in free while the adults pay. Advance tickets can be purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart, Double D Gardens. Westburn Garden Centre and the Sooke Country Market. In Victoria tickets are at the Moss Street Market (Saturday) and Dig This.

Sooke Food CHI is a local non-profit regional food security group, serving communities from Port Renfrew through to East Sooke.

For more information on Sooke Food CHI, go to: www.sookefoodchi.ca

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two-vehicle crash in Langford sends one to hospital Monday morning

Driver sent to hospital with unspecified injuries

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Victoria Canadian Forces member honored with exceptional Rotary Club award

Capt. Jacqueline Zweng is the Western Canada Ambassador of Wounded Warriors Canada

Oak Bay athletes rule the slopes at Island ski and snowboard series

Oak Bay boys take top ski, snowboard honours

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

Most Read