Meet the crew: an interview with the people who make it all happen!
Bees are buzzing, weeds are poking out of the dirt once more, and our shiny new "walk behind” tractor is in the shed. The greenhouse is filled to the brim with trays full of seedlings as we are kickstarting season two of our community farm. So who does all the work?
There are some well seasoned familiar faces along with new additions to our 2021 farm crew, who will work alongside our very dedicated volunteers.
From left to right: Darcy Kaltio, Lauren Everall and Patch, Christopher Emory-Moore, and farm manager Ron Berezan.
Ron, our farm manager, plans and directs all the farm activities, but you will often see him with the other farm hands in the field.
Darcy and Christopher, well-known Blueberry Commoners and now also part-time workers, have a new full time colleague in Lauren. One more worker will join the ranks soon, but we haven't met him/her yet (stay tuned!).
We asked them what moves them to farm, and to farm with us. 1. Why did you apply for the "farm hand" or “Farm Manager" position at BCFC?
Darcy Kaltio: I am eager to get my hands in the dirt, to put calluses on my hands and to put delicious, fresh, organic food in the bellies of my fellow Powell Riverites. I am seeking a change of scenery from the work I've been doing from home on the computer for the last 11 years. I am also keen to put my beginner theoretical knowledge of permaculture into practice.
Ron Berezan (farm manager): Waking up to work right outside my door; spending the day with soil and plants, sun and good people; growing good healthy food: what could be a better job?
Loren Everall: To help grow and provide local, nourishing food for the community. I am looking forward to getting my hands in the soil and connecting with the plants, the pollinators, and the folks at the farm.
Christopher Emory-Moore: Soon after our first child was born, my wife and I developed an aspiration to farm. This livelihood just feels right – for our family, community, and planet. My mind is also relatively peaceful when my hands are in the soil.
2. Tell us about your gardening (or other) background
Darcy: I grew up with a vegetable garden, growing potatoes and peas. In my late 20s I spent five weeks on an organic farm in the mountains near Nagano, Japan as a WWOOFer [willing worker on organic farms]. It was hard and I loved it, even when I hated it. Since moving to Powell River five years ago, I have been messing around with my small home garden growing a variety of vegetables, flowers and herbs. In 2016, I took a Permaculture Design course, which was a dream come true. I felt my spirit nourished by the practical and yet visionary nature of the permaculture principles. I am excited to put some of these into practice at Blueberry Commons.
Ron: I have been growing food since I was 18 - over 40 years ago! For the past 15 years, I have been teaching others permaculture approaches and facilitating community food security projects across Canada and in Cuba. Growing for market is newer for me and I enjoy the challenges of growing at this scale and figuring out all of the planning and marketing.
Lauren: I’ve been involved in various organic, local food projects over the years and have loved plants and the outdoors since I can remember. I volunteered with the UBC Farm's Intergenerational Landed Learning Project, I researched and worked at UBC's The
Orchard Garden as part of my BEd, I have farmed on small-scale organic farms on Pender Island and the Okanagan, and currently, my partner and I are starting our own mixed veg, herbs, and honey farm north of town. Over the years I have also worked as a public school
art and nature-based teacher, a grizzly bear guide, a mustard maker, an artist, and a lookout observer with Wildfire Alberta.
Christopher: I’ve held gardener jobs with landscaping companies across Canada over the past 15 years, usually during or between one or another university degree. Farming is quite new, but feels like a natural, meaningful extension of the gardening experience.
3. Why do you think a farm at BCFC is important?
Darcy: We need more small-scale farmers in every community to build resilience in the face of changing ecological and economic times. Eating food that is grown close to where you eat it provides greater nutrition and we all need more nutritious food while experiencing the stress of our modern day living. There is a demand in our community for locally grown food, which is really exciting! The farm at Blueberry Commons also serves as a place for education and community participation which is fundamental for building resilience.
Ron: Having a focus other than ourselves (and our housing needs) is a critical way to build community and to embed ourselves in the wider community. It is also a way to actively walk the talk of sustainable living, reducing carbon emissions and fostering resilience.
Lauren: Food is an integral part of daily rhythms and culture creation. I believe that this market farm has the ability to nourish the community in a multiplicity of ways. Producing local, healthy food serves not only our taste buds, but also our bodies. Organic methods and regenerative practices can ensure soil health continues to thrive. By producing local food, we can help to cut back on fossil fuel use in transportation of food to our community. This space can offer learning opportunities for folks of all ages and can beckon us to align with the seasons and gain awareness of the daily relationships of sun, air, insects, microbes, roots, leaves, birds and all the other critters we share our home with.
Christopher: Humans have been so careless with our habitat for several generations now; learning to produce food naturally strikes me as a simple but profound way to begin to correct this trajectory of spiritual alienation and physical harm. Blueberry’s land, leadership, labour, and love position us beautifully to do this while feeding our members and neighbours.
4. Which do you think will be your most and least favourite farm tasks this season?
Darcy: Most - harvesting potatoes. It's such a sweet treasure hunt! Least - thinning crops. I feel so sad killing all the little baby plants.
Ron: Most - supporting our team in the planting out of tens of thousands of seedlings and seeds and nurturing them into an abundance of delicious crops. Least - endless Facebook posts promoting our amazing food.
Lauren: Most - anything in the warm sun, especially harvesting. I love harvesting big root crops like leeks and beets. It's very satisfying! Anything in a greenhouse is also very lovely. Least - figuring out irrigation.
Christopher: Most - I love weeding, honest. Least - I’m not a big fan of power tools, and I know Blueberry just got a new tractor!
5. What would you put on the farm “wish list”?
Darcy: A couple of bicycles with trailers on the back for hauling stuff between the fields, the barn and the market stand. A shade structure of some kind out in the field. A compost toilet with a hand-washing station.
Ron: A good-sized greenhouse, weed-eating pigs and goats, a repaired well pump, a flame weeder, and a couple more hori hori knives.
Lauren: I haven't farmed at Blueberry Commons yet, but some 100-ft hoop houses and a nice big germination nursery would be pretty great additions. A swimming hole for lunch breaks and a dog-friendly fenced area for my Patch pup to come to work with me wouldn't be too bad, either.
Christopher: Bicycle trailer(s) to truck materials to field and food to storehouse, farm stand/houses. Children: I can’t wait until we live on site and can send our kids to weed the beets after Saturday morning cartoons.
6. What's your favourite vegetarian dish?
Darcy: Salad has been my favourite food since I was a little kid.
Ron: Curried kabocha squash soup.
Lauren: Any green pesto with homemade pasta, and sautéed patty pans on top! Load it up with spinach, spring nettles, fresh basil, garlic, any roasted nuts, lemon, good quality olive oil, a bit of parm and salt and pep and it's summer in your mouth in 10 mins. Oh, and wrapping a Sungold cherry tomato in a basil leaf, warm from the sun - that is a real winner.
Christopher: Egg on toast.
7. Do you have a gardening quote or motto which may help you get through many hours of weeding?
Darcy: The grass is greener where you water it.
Ron: “A weed is simply a plant whose virtues we have yet to discover.”
Lauren: “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” - Dory (the fish).
Christopher: “The things I normally see do not exist.” Contemplating the dream-like nature of things (e.g., weeds, knees) helps me to practice patience.
8. What’s your favourite veggie, and why?
Darcy: You can't go wrong with a carrot - you can make cake out of it!
Ron: Broccoli - it’s my all time super food!
Lauren: I'm not sure I have one favourite. I love garlic, alliums, fresh herbs - especially sun-warmed basil. Butter lettuce is my favourite lettuce and sun-warmed fresh tomatoes are pretty amazing. Sweet corn, crispy cukes, beet tops...it's all pretty special!
Christopher: Tomatoes. They blissfully support my general preference for grazing over cooking.