For 100 years, people have been getting their hands in the dirt at the farm that was once the Scarf house. Now called ALM Organic Farm, the 15 acres is home to a group of farmers who till the land and share a passion for all things organic.
Mary Alice and Jan Johnston have owned ALM since 1986 and Mary Alice is a stalwart farmer well known in the community for sharing the knowledge she has gained over the years.
On the five arable acres used for food production, Johnston and her farming partner Marika Nagasaka welcome young farmers who want to glean knowledge from them and the others who share the land on Otter Point Road.
Each year they take on a couple of new apprentices and guide them in the basics of starting their own organic farms. The back-to-the-land movement, started in the 1960s by young folks who wanted a rural lifestyle, is still evident in the hearts and minds of those who believe in growing their own food.
The folks at ALM want to share their knowledge with the greater community and they are offering a series of workshops throughout the spring and summer.
“We’ve been doing this for awhile, but held off for a couple of years,” said Johnston, who has been teaching organic gardening at Camosun College for the past 15 years.
“Part of it is getting instruction from someone who has been doing this a long time,” said Johnston. “How it’s done effectively and the equipment to use, etc.”
She said people often struggle with a planting calendar and Nagaska is very adept at teaching people about this aspect of gardening. A planting calendar will allow growers to push planting dates in the spring and fall to extend the harvest and plan succession sowing for continual and extended harvest of certain vegetables. The first workshop on this aspect was on Feb. 27 and will be offered again on Saturday, March 16 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
She mentioned Jordan who is really good with pruning and perennials, such as asparagus, raspberries, fruit trees.
Other topics include: Growing Amazing Tomatoes (March 30), Introduction to Perennial Foods, (April 13), Plant Propagation (April 20), the Winter Garden (June 8) and Seed Saving (Sept. 14). Seed saving is of particular interest these days when GM foods are becoming increasingly evident in the grocery stores and there is a risk of losing heritage and organic seeds.
Most of the workshops take place during the day and cost between $30 and $55, space is limited. You also have the option of enjoying an organic farm lunch at each of the workshops.
On April 27, ALM will hold their third annual Plant and Seed Sale and also during the annual Farm & Garden Tour in August.
For more information on the farm, the people and the workshops go to: www.almfarms.org; email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 250-642-3671.