Fresh Local Produce
Welcome To Lindahl Farm
We grow non GMO garden fresh vegetables and fruit in a non pesticide environment.
- Chicken Eggs
- Duck Eggs
- Tomato starts
- Raspberry plants
- Strawberry plants
- Herb plants
- Fruits in season
- Veggies in season
- Poppy Seeds
Cowichan farmers dig in on less than 10 acres
by Lexi Bainas – Cowichan Valley Citizen posted Oct 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM— updated Apr 16, 2015 at 9:13 AM
Do you think farming is not for you because your property is too small? Think again. Marilyn Lindahl has been farming with her husband, Larry, for eight and a half years on a small five-acre holding off Cowichan Lake Road, well known to long-time Lake Cowichan residents as the old Ballegeer property. The couple raises rabbits, ducks, sheep and turkeys as well as keeping bees. The place also boasts a “guardian llama” named Starlight. The land itself doesn’t look like farmland when seen from the road. It didn’t farm like it at the start, either, she said. “We think it had been empty for about four years. We’ve been working on the house ever since we got here,” she said.
Finally, in the spring of 2013, they got to the kitchen. “I always laugh because I look out our kitchen window and I point to our elk fence and I say: ‘That’s my kitchen renovation.’ That, after all, is one of the first things we had to do.” The high, wire fence was an essential project. Beyond stopping elk, the fence keeps the sheep safe and deters bears from trying for the beehives. Although Lake Cowichan may seem an unusual place to farm, the land offered the Lindahl’s a chance to marry and settle on an affordable piece of property, an option that had become impossible in Saanich and Victoria. “Down there the blackberries are being taken out and replaced by subdivisions. And blackberry is one of the largest nectar sources for bees,” said Lindahl.
They were able to work with Regional Agrologist Wayne Haddow in getting their farm started. He said that if you define small acreage as less than 10 acres, there is quite a bit of farming on small acreage in the Cowichan Valley. “There’s room for more; we’ve got excellent support at the farmers market for them, but as new producers come in there’s always a need for new consumers to take advantage of that supply.” Every kind of farming is being done on a smaller scale in the Cowichan Valley: lamb, beef, chicken, vegetables, fruits, berries. “An incredible diversity of things can be produced here with our climate,” he said.
Background research before buying land is also important according to Haddow. “New farmers really need to concentrate on their marketing efforts and think about whether their soils are suitable for certain crops as well as thinking about things like soil drainage. “If you’re going to get into a specialty crop, like lavender, or grapes, or raspberries, you really need to select your site so it will be suitable for those crops,” he said, citing Saison Market Vineyard on Mays Road as “probably the prime example of what we would call low agricultural capability land being utilized for a high value crop like grape production.”
Help for prospective small farmers comes from organizations like the Cowichan Agricultural Society and farmers’ institutes. The Cobble Hill Fair and the Cowichan Exhibition also showcase what can be grown here successfully, he said.
At five acres, Lindahl Farm did have to surmount some challenges, including a change in regulations about bees, Lindahl said. “They said there were too many people with hobby horses, trying to put up 10 hives and then claim they needed farm status,” she said. The first year they got one acre of farm status. Then they had to re-apply once all the animals were producing. A good barn that came with the purchase is an asset but one of the problems with the property was the soil was stripped down to hard-pan. “The first thing we had to work on was getting the rocks out. We do have soil amendments by the bucketful, from the rabbits and what they call llama beans from our llama. They can go directly onto your garden without being composted.” Two big vegetable gardens are now producing well.
“And every year we add more onto the pasture. We’re hoping that some year before we are too old we might be able to have some grass-fed lamb. Right now we have to supplement their feed all year round.” The high wire fence is effective but the animals go indoors at night.
“Our biggest predators where we live so far have been the eagles. They arrive right at the start of lambing season. And we did lose a couple of little ducks. And ravens come in and steal our duck eggs. We see them flying away with a big egg in their mouths,” she said. Lindahl said that unexpected human visitors can be a problem sometimes at the farm, too. “We had an unfortunate incident last year where somebody drove up – we didn’t hear them – and they went into the rabbitry and started taking pictures with a flash,” she recounted. “I had a doe there that had just given birth. She had just spent two weeks making this lovely, lovely nest and that night she pulled it all apart. It just freaked her. We do have to be careful.”
They do have some help in policing the property from their “guardian llama”, who came from Courtenay, courtesy of an ad in the Buy, Sell and Trade. “Starlight is literally worth her weight in gold. Once, I actually watched her get a bear off the property. “She’s got lots of personality. She loves her range. We’ve seen her walk in snow right up to her belly.” Starlight takes a real interest in all the sheep, greeting new lambs with her own special welcome. Lindahl’s buys New Zealand rabbits from a Victoria breeder and raises them for sale but it is an up-and-down world as tastes change. Her ducks are a lively crew. And useful. “They’re called Indian runner ducks. They lay eggs but there’s no meat on these birds. But they definitely eat an amazing amount of slugs so they are precious for what they do.”
Lindahl Farm is part of a federal/provincial program called the Environmental Farm Plan. “That Plan is an opportunity for producers in the region like the Lindahl’s to take advantage of financial resources that are available and to get a study of their farming operations,” said Haddow. “If they meet all the criteria for Environmental Farm Planning certification, then they can obtain a farm sign to place at their gates.”
LINDAHL FARM6456 Cowichan Lake Rd, Lake Cowichan BC
Farm Fresh – Non GMO