As most farmer’s seasons are slowly winding down, mine begins. I’ve finally made the leap and moved on Minto Farm here in the Comox Valley to begin my career as owner/operator of Lentelus Organics. Lentelus, Afrikaans for “Spring Joy”, is a nod to my late philosopher/farmer grandfather who named our family farm Lentelus back in South Africa. I grew up spending my school holidays running amuck on the family farm, learning to love rural agriculture in the Bo Kouga.
The Young Agrarians mentorship partnered me with Evelyn and Jesse from Terra Nossa farms, a great example of a profitable mixed livestock/cash crop certified organic farm. Evelyn helped me work through all the kinks of becoming certified organic with IOPA, which I’m extremely grateful for, I’m currently in Organic transition, with the hope of being completely certified organic this coming April!
Being certified organic, is a choice that I didn’t have to think hard about… My dad is a certified organic farmer and manages and consults on several of the largest organic vineyards in the Okanagan. In our family we take certification seriously and try our best to live truly sustainable lifestyles.
I jumped right into livestock farming a week after a graduated from a BSc in Conservation from UBC. A farmer just up the road from me had a litter of four month old hogs and no space to finish them so he sold them to me. I’m bright eyed and bushy tailed and was willing to take on the challenge of raising pigs in winter.
I’m lucky enough to have a large chunk of well drained pasture right outside of my barn that the piggies have 24 hour access to. I’m rotating them across this section until butcher time in February. I’m feeding these guys certified organic feed even though I won’t be able to certify the pork as organic just yet. They’re getting a pretty cushy last few months frolicking in fresh straw and rooting through fresh pasture.
I’m taking on 2016 with ambitious plans. I have two batches of ~25 Berkshire pigs coming and I need to get them sold… I also have about 4000 garlic plants to harvest and then replant this coming fall, the hope is to have about half an acre yielding around two tonnes of certified organic garlic per year. Amongst other things I’m exploring all options to grow local, certified organic grains and other livestock feed.
All of this has been made possible by a great cohort of friends, mentors and family who have helped me to realise my dream of following in the old man’s footsteps and becoming a farmer. Lentelus Organics has also just been approved for a sizeable loan from Farm Folk City Folk and Vancity to help me get this business up and running, I can’t recommend them enough. Smooth sailing!
Ps I’m now taking deposits on Pastured Pork sides, delivery to Vancouver available:
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.