Nestled into the Erie Creek floodplain, we live on a flat, 20 acre property composed of forest, sedge-meadows, and beaver ponds.
In our first couple of years farming, we battled the water – sinking into the mud while trying to get spring crops into the ground as early as possible for market, and watching our late season crops drown in the autumn rains.
In 2017, we lucked out and formed a partnership with our neighbours to lease an acre of their drier land for our vegetable production. Soon after that, we partnered with a local basket weaver and established a basket willow patch – the willow loves our low-lying property, and we realize now how much sense it makes to work with the land!
In addition to the beaver ponds, we also have constructed wetlands on our property. In 2017, we participated in a wetland restoration project in partnership with the BC Wildlife Federation. After two wetland restoration specialists designed the plan, a local excavating company carried out the work to construct three ponds on our property where we suspect cattle had been grazed many years ago, altering the original wetland habitat.
When the earth was excavated to build the ponds, we had it all piled up adjacent to the newly restored wetland area, creating an elevated piece of land that was well enough above the water table to grow some vegetables.
In 2019, we constructed a 120 ft long by 35 ft wide greenhouse on that valuable, dry piece of real estate! A greenhouse had been a dream of ours since starting a farm. In Salmo, the growing season and frost-free period is very short, and we knew that extending the season with a heated greenhouse would not only level out our workload over the course of the year, but also provide new market opportunities.
The greenhouse is heated with natural gas, and we use it to grow tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer season, and salad mix and other greens in the winter months.
The constructed ponds are located adjacent to our greenhouse and can be easily viewed from the end of Curwen Road. It has been amazing watching more wildlife move in and make use of the new habitat. Depending on the time of year, we see Great Blue Herons, Hooded Mergansers, all sorts of ducks, Kingfishers, white-tail deer, loads of dragonflies, frogs, and even a Western Painted Turtle and a moose once!