Q: What is certified organic farming?
A: Certified Organic farming is an agricultural production system that promotes and enhances biological diversity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. Haliburton Community Organic Farm’s organic status is certified through IOPA, the Islands Organic Producers Association, and is renewed each year.
Q: How did the Society gain access to the land?
A: Through the work of committed volunteers (many of whom are on the Board), prime agricultural land was protected from becoming a residential subdivision. In support of the goals of the Haliburton Community Organic Farm Society (HCOFS), the District of Saanich secured the land from the Capital Regional District to ensure the long-term agricultural sustainability of this valuable piece of farm land. Saanich, in turn, leases the land to the Society. The work of the Cordova Bay Association and Land for Food Coalition is acknowledged and much appreciated.
Q: How is Haliburton Community Organic Farm currently managed?
A: The Society is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The Board or its sub-committees addresses farming activities, fundraising, education and community liaison. We have also been hugely supported by volunteers who have gifted their services – including such professions as landscape architect, contractor, accountant and lawyer.
Q: How is Haliburton Community Organic Farm being developed?
A: The farm started small and in the year 2015 has 7 farming businesses, with 10 farmers, a seedling greenhouse business and native plant nursery bringing the land into full cultivation. There is a forested habitat and wetlands restoration area which are tended by skilled volunteers to safeguard our local eco-system. This year we were also joined by a holistic nutritionist who aims to bridge the farm-to-table gap.
Q: How was the land rezoned to accommodate the farm?
A: The land was zoned for utility use within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). While a small portion of it remains a utility zone under ownership by CRD Water, the rest of the land has been transferred to Saanich and rezoned, as a Rural Demonstration Farm zone. The Haliburton Farm remains within the ALR.
Q: Will there be walking trails and public education at the farm?
A: Yes, we have developed a perimeter trail, available for use by the public during arranged hours and/or guided farm tours costing $8 per person. The farming areas are fenced (to protect the crops from deer) and there are opportunities for public participation in workshops and educational events. The farm collaborates with Gaia College and Royal Roads University to offer scheduled food-growing courses. There is also regular interaction with local schools and colleges to educate and involve students in organic farming.
Q: How will parking and traffic be dealt with?
A: Adequate on-site parking is available for participants in work parties and small workshop events. Farm sales that occur on the property will involve people stopping by the farm that ensures only a couple of cars at any one time. For the few large community events that we anticipate holding, we are investigating temporary off-site parking (through local schools, churches or parks). We encourage local residents to walk or ride bicycles to the farm.
Q: Will there be community markets on the property?
A: There are no community markets on the property at present. If a community market is desirable to the community, we will find a suitable location in consultation with the neighbourhood. The farm runs a farm stand during the Summer – with its own plant sales and produce, plus a popular food box program.
Q: Will there be animals at the farm?
A: Our lease allows for some chickens, roosters and ducks.
Q: Does Saanich Council support the Farm?
A: Saanich has been extremely supportive of the Farm to date, and indeed without their support the land would have been sold for development. The Board will continue to work in partnership with Saanich as the farm grows and flourishes.
Q: How can I get involved?
A: The Farm needs support from its neighbours and from residents throughout the region. Please consider becoming a member of the Society, making a donation, joining our food box program, taking a Gaia College class, or devoting some of your time to the farm through its volunteer opportunities. Visit our volunteer page and wish list on this website to learn more about how you can donate your skills or time.