The Revelstoke Mountaineer welcomes a new summer series by Terra Firma Farms owner Terra Park. The column explores what it means to pioneer an organic, sustainable local market gardening operation here in Revelstoke. Over the summer, Park will explore topics that will connect you with the local agriculture movement. Welcome Terra Firma Farms!

The average age of famers in Canada is 54. There are concerns that as farmers age there will be no one to take their place.

In Canada, the total number of farms is decreasing, and the size of farms is increasing. This large agricultural model feeds less people per acre than small scale agriculture but this requires more farmers.

Our new summer series by Terra Firma Farms will explore what it takes to grow amazing organic produce in Revelstoke, like these from their 2014 season. Photo: Terra Firma Farms
Our new summer series by Terra Firma Farms will explore what it takes to grow amazing organic produce in Revelstoke, like these from their 2014 season. Photo: Terra Firma Farms

B.C. is unique in that there are very few large tracks of farmland. There has been an upward trend in young people starting small scale farms, many of them diversified, organic or sustainable. This generation looks at farming as more of a lifestyle than a job.

For us at Terra Firma Farms, it has been the most rewarding work we have done and also the most challenging. We joke that we have never worked harder for so little. But the benefits are not just in the capital raised. As people complain about the rising food costs we know that we eat like kings. We also know how much work goes into the food we eat and think food costs are very low.

The Revelstoke Farm & Craft Market. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer
The Terra Firma booth at the Revelstoke Farm & Craft Market two weekends ago, where seedlings and starts are in season. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Knowing how much work and resources goes into raising ethical meat has also made us question how much we should be eating. We have been consuming far less meat since raising our own, careful to make the best use of every bit of it.

Our generation has many aspiring famers in a time when it is difficult to have access to land. The profession of farming has become more popular but difficult to enter. Our generation has to be creative. Many new models of entry are being explored; spin farming, cooperatives, land shares and urban farming are just a few.

Our approach has also been unique, we took land that would never have been considered arable and turned it into a productive market garden. We have used methods taken from permaculture principles and applied them on a larger scale. We have been able to build soil by adding as much organic matter as we could get our hands on and with the use of cover crops we have created amazing soil. If your will is strong enough you will find a way.

Terra Park is the co-owner and operator of Terra Firma Farms, a small-scale, certified organic farm located in Revelstoke's Begbie Bench area. Terra Firma specializes in garden transplant and heirloom vegetables, and their crops are grown using ecological and sustainable practices.