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ABOUT THE LAND
Empress Acres (empressacres.ca) is a 69 acre farm that was purchased in 2017 to grow a unique tree, the Empress tree in partnership with the World Tree Eco-Tree program (worldtree.info). NatureBank estimates that this Eco-Tree Program supports an incredible 7 of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. A “Bonafide Miracle Tree” is how the primary author of World Tree’s recent report The Social and Environmental Impacts of our Eco-Tree Program described the Empress tree. The report prepared for World Tree by NatureBank details the many environmental services provided by the tree including being one of the most effective trees on the planet at sequestering carbon.
13.5 acres of Empress Acres is planted with the Empress tree, another 15 acres of the Empress tree will be planted over the next several years. The trees will be harvested within 10-15 years after planting.
The calling this farm brings forth is one of joy, wonder and participation. The owners envision making full use of all the land for providing a source of sustainable lumber, drawing down carbon in the world, honey production when the Empress trees start blooming, producing food for local consumption, flowers for local enjoyment, and intercropping in amongst the Empress trees.
In the past, we had a few chickens for personal egg laying, some fields have been farmed for hay and barley. In 2017 we planted 10 acres of Empress trees and in 2018 we planted another 3.5 acres of these trees. All of the tree planting has been done with minimal disturbance of the land around them. We plan on planting another 0.5 acres of the Empress trees this year and 5 acres of them in 2021. The tree farming we are doing has used some pellet and fish fertilizer and we want to use chicken manure for the trees going forward. Having some chicken farming here could be a source of chicken manure for the trees. We might need to add some slow release fertilizer to the Empress trees this year also. We’ll be planting half an acre of pickling cucumbers this year. A local farmer has been haying a 6 acre field for his cows. We also will be planting around 300 gladiola bulbs for selling this year.
ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY
We would like to have more organic food crops grown here and we are open to having sheep on the farm in addition to free-run or free-range chicken farming. We would also consider grazing goats.
Land that is available for farming includes:
• approx. 18 acres of land that was formerly a barley field; much of it is underwater in the heavy rain months
• 1.5-2 acres of land that has been planted with a winter cover crop (winter rye, vetch & peas)
• approx. 5 acres of land that was formerly a hay field
• approx. 15 acres of land on a hillside that is covered with shrub
There is a road that runs the entire length of the farm.
We have a pole barn (28×60 ft) that is used to house farm equipment during the wet months and is used for events at the farm during the warmer, drier months. There is a 24 X 36’ workshop possibly available (it might be rented out and not available) that has a high ceiling and an industrial height door.
We put up fencing with rebar and mesh on some of the property (approx. 15 acres) to keep deer from eating the Empress trees. They haven’t been eating the trees so the mesh hasn’t been maintained. The rebar and mesh are available to put up again to protect crops from deer. We also have many rolls of unopened 18” high chicken wire to go around 15 acres of field that weren’t used.
There is a drainage waterway on the front hay field that has water in it year round and could be pumped. There is a drainage pond at the far back of the property that could be pumped for water. There is a well on the property for residential water use.
The soil type varies and it’s untested. About half the farmland has been used largely for growing hay and barley. The other third had forest on it with trees native to the area, which were mostly taken down prior to us buying the farm.
Housing on site may be an option and is open for discussion. We have a vacation rental suite with guests staying in it throughout the year and we have several events (e.g. weddings) held here at the farm. Aesthetics and maintaining an attractive farm is important to us.
We are looking to create a lease or license agreement for the land available. We are also looking to collaborate with someone in a profit sharing agreement for the 0.5 acre U-pick cucumber field we are planning on planting, with potential to expand to a market garden in future years. We also want to get farm status again (previous owner had this) as a result of the farming being done here.
We are looking for someone with experience and passion for farming food crops, and possibly chickens and sheep. We are also looking for someone who can help us with maintaining our Kubota tractor and changing out the attachments as needed to help us with watering the Empress trees. The qualifications of this person/people can vary. We are looking for people with education and/or experience in agriculture, agro-forestry or permaculture. This person(s) is also supportive of keeping the farm attractive and welcoming for guests staying on the farm and people having events on the farm (e.g. weddings).
GET IN TOUCH!
This land opportunity is available through the B.C. Land Matching Program. If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact the Vancouver Island Land Matcher, Azja, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The B.C. Land Matching Program is funded on Vancouver Island by the Province of British Columbia, with support from Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Real Estate Foundation of B.C.