My name is Emma Holmes and I am co-managing Duck Creek Farm on Salt Spring Island. This is the same farm I got my start in market gardening 8 years ago, and I feel real lucky to be back growing food in this beautiful place. I’m co-farming with Sue Earle, who courageously took over Duck Creek Farm with grace, gusto, and determination after her partner John Wilcox passed away in 2012. John was my mentor in 2008 and his passion for growing food and building a just and sustainable food system carved me. I’m lucky to have worked alongside him for a summer. Sue’s background is in costume design, but she has become a badass farmer and land manager over the last several years. She’s an inspiration for sure.
Since my last stint at Duck Creek I have been studying sustainable food systems, soil science, and working for Skipper Otto’s, a Community Supported Fishery based in Vancouver. Most recently I did a growing season at the Bullock Brother’s Permaculture Homestead. I loved growing food and my time there inspired me to get back into market gardening. Sue needed a co-farm manager to help with the farm, so Duck Creek felt like the natural place to explore farming again.
I applied for the YA Business Mentorship because I knew that running a small-scale farm is challenging. I have so much respect for my friends who have been farming for years – it requires such a diverse skill set and body of knowledge. I was so happy to see this was being offered to young farmers, and am so grateful to be receiving such amazing support from my mentor, DeLisa Lewis who is a talented farmer and teacher. DeLisa’s mentorship has been invaluable.
My business goal for this season is to learn how to run a market garden business. I am gaining skills in everything from the planning, finance, interns, record keeping, as well as the actual farming. The biggest challenge I face is carving out a living from food production, which is no small feat. Feeling real fortunate to have Sue and DeLisa as my mentors this season. The Young Agrarians and an incredible farming community on Salt Spring have also been so great in supporting me as a young market gardener.
My favourite farm books are the Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier, Understanding Plant Roots by Robert Kourik, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. You can find out more about me and Duck Creek by following me on instagram @emmapholmes or checking out the Duck Creek Farm website www.duckcreek.ca
2015-16 Funding for the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Network Pilot is provided in part by Salt Spring Coffee, Vancity, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the BC Ministry of Agriculture through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.