LAND OPPORTUNITY: Hopyard on Mixed Farm – Sorrento, BC

Posted by Tessa Wetherill on February 02, 2021 1 Comment

We have more land opportunities than what is listed here! Get in touch with a Land Matcher at land@youngagrarians.org to access our full land inventory and B.C. Land Matching Program support in your region.

ABOUT THE FARM

Left Fields Organic Farm & Crannóg Ales together are a diversified farm and brewery in Sorrento. The farm has a web of infrastructure and activities, from a small laying flock and bees to cider and dessert apples, berries and soft fruits, nuts and the garden and seed production. There’s a wetland, pasture area and the basis of a commercial kitchen (still unlicensed but almost ready for licensing, totally usable as is). The prospective person/people are invited to participate in the daily work of the whole farm or build on parts of it. There is opportunity to work on personal visions as well.

The farm is quite diversified, with a soil base ranging from gravel (pasture) through clay to wetland. Areas used for pasture are the minimum required for the sheep flock. There is an existing 1/3 acre garden with extra areas for perennials (over ½ acre total), and a 16’x45’ hoop house for in-ground growing. There is a wetland/pig food forest with extensive ditch/swale and young tree plantings, which needs maintenance and fencing, and is suitable for more fruit and nut trees or other permaculture plantings. A pond and wild area/wetland is reserved for wildlife.

There are 20+ fruit trees, mostly cider apples, cherries and pears plus extensive semi-wild plums, 3 hazelnut trees in buffer zones, perennials including black, red and white currants, gooseberries, strawberries, and rhubarb.

In terms of infrastructure, there is a full workshop for wood or metalwork (no welding gear at the moment), barn for livestock/hay, roast house/drying area, used for hops, storage, drying beans/onions/garlic etc, 2 chicken coops (one small for household layers, one larger for meat birds or larger layer flock), and pig area.

ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY

Left Fields is seeking someone to take on running the hopyard portion of the farm.This includes maintaining the hopyards, marketing, selling rhizomes through our online store and in-person, managing seasonal labour crews for spring prep and fall harvest, and year-round maintenance and improvement of soil, trellising and other infrastructure. There are opportunities to expand the market for both rhizomes and dried hops to homebrewers, as well as a guaranteed priority market for dried hops to the on-farm brewery, Crannóg Ales.

The hops have both a stable market selling whole hops to the on-site brewery, as well as a proven outside market for rhizomes. Gross income for this part of the farm ranges from $25,000 – $50,000/year, net about $10-20,000+. Figures are highly variable, with a huge opportunity this year to grow the rhizome end of the project with increased interest from homebrewers. There is also the potential to sell extra dried hops to the homebrewing market, which has more potential with more people pandemic homebrewing.

This would be an independent project, not an employee situation, structured as a profit share/contract. Rent would be minimal to cover long-term building maintenance, with the expectation in return for low rent of participation in group infrastructure projects for basic farm maintenance (e.g. fencing, weed-whacking, mowing, plowing and shoveling snow, fenceline maintenance). We would provide training, support and materials, but the new person would be in charge of their own finances. We have independent living space available. Infrastructure is fully in place (but improvements can always be done!). 

The opportunity includes on-farm housing. We have available either a self-contained one-bedroom suite (with shared access to laundry and cold storage) or a cabin with outside toilets and showers and use of the community kitchen. Which space is available depends on negotiation. The suite is in a house shared with a brewery employee and potentially another resident.

Ideally, we are looking for long-term people with experience in farming and a proven commitment to agriculture, not people who are just trying it out. We are open to creating a limited partnership with the right people, with a view to long-term succession planning. We prefer couples or partnerships for increased long-term stability. It’s essential that anyone joining the farm maintains clear lines of communication, participates in regular farm meetings and gatherings.

Essential skills:

  • Computer/admin skills and aptitude – website maintenance, bookkeeping (basic), record-keeping
  • Growing plants – experience in perennials is a bonus, gardening or other such experience
  • Knowledge of and focus on safety in using machinery and workshop tools
  • Ability to teach skills (to us, public, other workers)
  • Management of workers
  • Communication skills 
  • Self knowledge and ability to set boundaries and respect those of others
  • Machinery maintenance and use is a serious bonus, though we will teach what we know

Essential values: 

  • Sense of responsibility for the care for and maintenance of the land and creatures on it. 
  • Social justice
  • Must see the value in what is already here, and be interested in, and excited about, working with that and building on it, while respecting the limitations of soil, water and existing use.
  • Bring your vision, work with/not against

Left Fields’ Statement of Principles:

We are dedicated to organic agriculture, social justice and permaculture principles, embedded in a web of communities which share strength, love, battles and support. Politics and ethics are very important to us. We will not tolerate right wing individualism, discrimination (race, sexuality, gender), capitalism or land rape. We expect respect for the land, and for the people whose land we inhabit (the Secwepemc People). 

Within the farm we strive for egalitarian, open, honest and supportive relationships. We value constant learning, hard work and artistic expression. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. 

Our political principles are egalitarian. We support and embody women’s (and other genders) empowerment, indigenous sovereignty, healthy and biologically appropriate conditions for livestock, indigenous biomes (aka “natural or wild” spaces), equality between humans and between humans and our earth. We treasure and work to enhance natural systems. We are anti-poverty, anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and of course against animal cruelty. 

Our principles are expressed in our community through involvement in local politics around mining, environment, organic agriculture, and other social justice initiatives, as well as by boycotting corporations which undermine our political goals and by making use of our various promotional venues to repair the world by changing people’s minds. We strive for the advancement of solidarity movements worldwide in struggle and celebration.

Dedications:

Within this piece of land, we will continue to increase biodiversity and healthy biomes. We will encourage indigenous plants and strive to remove invasive non-native species. We will not increase downstream pollution or endanger any wildlife with our activities. We will use our resources as sparingly as possible, always looking for new opportunities to reduce and re-use. Where there are healthy areas of indigenous food and medicine plants we shall open access to the Secwepemc people to harvest and help propagate those ecosystems. We will increase agricultural yield by intensifying our farming practices while enhancing non-farmed spaces. We will maintain a farm that is economically and ecologically viable. We will strive to share our practices and approach as widely as possible, encouraging others to change to better methods and approaches. We will make use of a variety of approaches suitable for the various areas of the farm and our various skills. We will support each other to become better and more skilled people in loving relationships. We will learn to live in community.

Additional projects/income streams (hops project remains primary responsibility)

  • The on-farm brewery provides an additional resource with part-time work available over the summer, primarily in farmers’ market sales and on-site packaging and sales. 
  • Brewery and farm have dual market stands at two local farmers markets (one year-round, one seasonal) with options to add a third if staffing permits – potential to increase farm product sales
  • Commercial kitchen can be licensed – past and current projects include baking, canning, vinegar works (currently being started), soda syrups
  • increased sales of dried hops to homebrewers
  • herb sales (excellent drying facility in hops oast)
  • seed production expansion (currently growing tomatoes, beans and peppers for seed)
  • cider/cider vinegar, herbal or fruit vinegars
  • crafts (currently wool craft with own fleece, felting, dying, spinning) or other arts

THE IDEAL CANDIDATE 

If you have skills in agriculture, art, food processing, administration, and cooperative living, talk to us. If you get inspired by food, farming, physical labour, social action and plenty of intellectual debate, please call us. If the land speaks to you, join us. 

Creative, hard working, cooperative-minded people only! We are looking for couples or singles, omnivores and beer lovers. 

Politics and ethics are very important to us. We will not tolerate right wing individualism, discrimination (race, sexuality, gender), capitalism or land rape. We expect respect for the land, and for the people whose land we inhabit (the Secwepemc People). 

If you have an appropriate business in hand already, and are looking for a home, this might be the right place. If you can see unrealized potential here, and have the drive to make it happen, this might be your new home.

GET IN TOUCH!

This land opportunity is participating in the BC Land Matching Program. Get in touch with the Okanagan Land Matcher, Tessa, at tessa@youngagrarians.org for more information.

Check out the UMap Listing at :

To learn more about the BC Land Matching Program and other land opportunities, visit https://youngagrarians.org/tools/land/

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