Farm Legacy Letter: Lorne & Barbara Ebell, Nanoose Edibles Farm

Posted by Alex on October 05, 2020 2 Comments

To future generations:

Nanoose Edibles is a certified organic farm located in Nanoose Bay, on Vancouver Island. The land has been farmed off and on since 1909. We have owned it since 1985. It is a little more than 22 acres. It had previously been used as cattle pasture and perhaps the odd cut of hay. 

I want people to remember that we grew delicious organically grown greens for the people in the region and encouraged people to grown their own greens and gardens. And that is still our goal. We love it when people come to volunteer as that almost seems like they are bringing us a gift of thanks for all the organic food that we have grown over time; and not forgetting all the youngsters who have come to the farm looking for their first job picking produce and weeding the garden. Such a pleasure having them with us. 

All the present crops on the farm were planted by us, and they include: apple orchards, quince, plums, some mature pears and a new planting of pears; berries include strawberries, raspberries, Marion berries, black currants, thornless blackberries, and plantings of blueberries; about half an acre of assorted table grapes; and a small planting of asparagus. This year we are adding a flower planting of perennials, bi-annuals, and annuals for our U-pick operation. We have the opportunity to produce more crops, but the market has changed and it would require us to be much more active in the community and we have had to drop that because of our age and lack of staff and income.

My strongest memory of the farm is working in the farming community to host the Harvest Bounty Festival. The event introduced the locals to local farms, chefs and the availability of great local food and turns the whole thing into a gala.  We invited local artisans and music artists who played for us all day. 

We hosted the event for six years until a new crew took it on, changed the focus of the event and it lost its momentum and eventually was closed. I would certainly recommend that it be revitalized in the future. A one-day event, 25 volunteer chefs matched with 25 farms, wine and beer donors from the area. 400 tickets at $40 a piece, sold out every year. The farm is nicely laid out for the event and has a tremendous local support. The community needs a farm event and this would still be a great one to promote. We would like to join up with new partners to produce and share the work to revitalize the value of local farms, perhaps offering an event each month though the summer at one of the larger farms to be shared with their neighbour farms, producers and restaurants. The farms could host events that support local arts, musicians, and family events and expect the payback to be family support for local food production and availability of local farms as teaching opportunities for young folk.

Our big picture goal is to continue to grow high value organic produce for the people of the region. The conditions of the world today tell us that we have a responsibility to produce our own food. Also, to hire capable young folk from the neighbourhood to teach them farming skills, and to have them teach us skills from their lives to keep us up-to-date with the times and help us to stay in touch. To focus on locally-grown organic food and to teach families and youngsters the value of growing their own gardens, berry crops and orchards and all the tools, equipment and skills that that entails.

We need to treat our agricultural land as a gift to be shared with the community for our lifetime and then moved on to the next generation for them to grow their food, teach themselves to farm and their children to farm, try out new farming methods and celebrate locally produced food with people in their neighbourhood.

Lorne & Barbara Ebell

Nanoose Edibles Farm, Nanoose Bay BC

Read Legacy Letters from other farmers and write your own letter to future generations here: youngagrarians.org/legacy-letters

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