Meeting Some of Victoria’s Farmers.

I thought it would be fun to visit some of the outdoor markets in Victoria and talk to different people at the stalls, just to see what their stories are.  The secret part of the mission is that I want to get going on making pickles, jams, jellies, and other canned delights in preparation for winter and gift giving.  Are you on my list?  I picked out four farms/stalls that I found interesting for different reasons.   All of these farms are organically certified, but they are doing their farming at different scales—some large and some very small.  This is only a small sampling of the amazing farmers out there.  I write this to encourage you, dear reader, to strike up some conversations and see what you can learn about the local food culture here in Victoria.


Kildara Farms.

farmers - kildera brian

Brian Hughes.  While Hughes still sits in the stall at the Moss St. Market selling vegetables out of baskets and greeting people by name, he is also running a farm that has been in business for almost 50 years, providing the majority of the organic salad greens eaten by people in BC.  Kildara Farms supplies Thriftys, Market on Yates, and other large locations.  They also have a box program.

We talk some time about pig farming, an old pet topic of mine going back to the days of my Master’s degree.  Kildara buys newly weaned pigs and lets them roam free in the woods. The flavour difference between a free roaming pig and a pig grown in a metal box at a factory and fed chemicals is striking.  The same thing goes for the chickens raised at Kildara.


Kildara Farms is hosting the Feast of Fields this year.
Editors Note: Win tickets to this year Feast of Fields here



Darn Tootin’ Farm & Woolly Bear Farm.

farmers - liz and colleen

Coleen Popyk and Liz Perkins, again at Moss St.  These two farms have only been in business a short time and, because their yield is still low, they share a stall.  Popyk explains that she got land from “this lady” and that this is her first year working it.  Perkins, meanwhile, has been growing for three years.  The learning curve for new farmers is steep—even though both worked as farmhands before setting up their own ventures.  Perkins tells me, for example, that one must build the deer fence before planting.  This way the deer will just ignore the fence and walk around it.  If one builds the fence after planting, though, the deer will realize there is something delicious inside and break the fence to bits.  Being self-sufficient isn’t easy on a small farm, they both tell me.  Sustainability for oneself is one thing, but the economic success required to improve and upgrade is entirely another prospect.


Suntrio Farms.

farmers - suntrio anya

Anya Slater, James Bay Market.  Suntrio appears to be the place I am going to get my pickling cucumbers.  They are a somewhat larger operation that sells products in a number of stores, has market stalls in different markets and also have their own retail shop located on their farm.  Fifteen people live on the farm and share all the farm and market duties.  Because Suntrio has a lot of outdoor greenhouse space, they are able to produce some vegetables and leafy greens throughout the winter.

Anya and I spend some time trying to calculate how many acres the farm is, based on the relational size of an acre to the park where we are.  My math is horrible; hers is not too bad.


Gobind Farms.

Still in James Bay, I learn that Gobind is the tenth guru of the Sikh religion.  This is according to Rebecca, “the berry girl”, who runs the stall for the farm.  Gobind was a warrior, a poet, and a philosopher.  In his honour, Gobind Farms is having the Gobind Farms Berry Festival on July 26-27.  Apparently, a large truck will be doing juicing there.  I am sure other berry related delights will be available.


farmers - gobind rebecca-3

All of this banter aside, Gobind Farms has some delicious berries for sale.  There were stacks of raspberries and blackberries, and strawberries are available (on a cycle) throughout the summer.  This is where I plan to go for my jam making needs.  I happen to make the best strawberry jam on the planet, by the way—when I have the right strawberries to work with.  I take a photo of the stall and I tell Rebecca it looks like a painting by Manet.  Visiting farm stalls is a lovely pastime.


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Born and raised in the mysterious East (by which I mean Ontario and Quebec, not Asia), Adam migrated out to British Columbia in search of adventure and fortune. He had been at different times a scholar, a musician, a poet and a ...

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