Kristen of Naturally Good Vibes is a participant in the B.C. Land Matching Program, which provides land matching and business support services to new farmers looking for land to farm, as well as landowners interested in finding someone to farm their land. Visit the B.C. Land Matching Program page to learn more about the program and to find a Young Agrarians Land Matcher in your region.~
Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your farm.
My name is Kristen Penhall, and I own a sustainable, zero waste-focused farm called Naturally Good Vibes. I have been leasing land for two years and will be leasing for at least two more.
How did you decide you wanted to lease land and what was your dream property?
I originally went into the Farm School program at KPU with the intention of leasing one of their incubator plots through the program once I graduated. During my time as a student, I spoke to another student about having bees on their farm, and by the end of the program, we were talking about me leasing land on her farm. In the end, although it was a close call, I decided to lease with her instead of the incubator plots leased through the school. My dream property was somewhere that had the facilities to make farming easier such as functioning water systems and the ability to have a fridge. I also wanted something closer to home, which unfortunately the farm currently isn’t – but that’s a compromise I have made based around my partner’s work. In my biggest dreams, I would own my farm, but that isn’t a reality for me in B.C. at this point.
Tell us a bit about the property you are farming now.
The property itself is 4.5 acres in Langley, B.C., and roughly 3.5 is farmed between both of us. There are two large greenhouses that the landowner farms inside, as well as on the other side of the property. I farm vegetables on the opposite side of the property and am working towards having more beehives on the backside of the property closer to the forest. You will also see chickens pop up on my social media from time to time, but those are the landowners, I just enjoy feeding them grass or poultry-friendly weeds!
What was the landowner’s vision for their land and how are you helping them to achieve that?
The landowner wanted someone who would care for the land. She is quite relaxed, very generous and had the extra space. To be honest, I feel like I have the better deal out of the two of us. I care deeply for the land but am still learning. She has been incredibly patient, and become the dearest of friends, and I will be forever grateful for that.
What was your experience working with the Young Agrarians Land Matcher?
It was absolutely incredible. It is really helpful to have someone who knows what to look out for to make sure everyone involved is comfortable. When you’re starting out there are so many hurdles to farming, especially in B.C. and it was so comforting that they knew to ask the questions I did not even know I had.
What was the most valuable thing about the B.C. Land Matching Program for you?
Having someone who was neutral helping both sides decide on what was fair in a lease. Also the fact that it was actually affordable and doable. The Young Agrarians really understand farmers, and that is incredibly helpful. I still have not taken advantage of half of the programs they have to offer farmers, and am still blown away by their resources and generosity.
Did you learn any lessons the hard way in your first season on the farm and what were they?
I learned (and am still learning) that not everything can be done, and to really focus on not wasting energy. Being outside in the fresh air and seeing the ever-evolving project that running a farm is, it is really easy to spend a lot of time on something that does not need it. I have found that especially with pests. Many pests that I worried about did very little damage in the end, and the hours I spent obsessing over them I could have spent working towards a better goal, or relaxing off the farm!
What excites you most about the future of your farm?
Becoming more at ease on the farm. My first year was full of so many surprises. Each season brings something different, but there is a certain rhythm and flow that feels more familiar each month. Pests become better known, I learn more about what weeds are edible or good for the bees, and I learn to let go more. I’m also really enjoying looking into different varieties of plants and am excited to see how diversified my farm becomes. This is especially dear to my heart as I am really passionate about pollinators, including my honeybees, and diversity is the key to improving pollinator populations.
What else would you like to share about your farm?
Something I am learning to appreciate more is that each farm and every farmer is different. Everyone has different goals, land, situations, and beliefs that lead them to farm the way they do. This helps take the pressure off as sometimes I see farms that have their weeds under a level of control I don’t think I’ll ever achieve, or I may be late planting something compared to another farm. There’s a beautiful freedom in surrendering, letting your ego go, and concentrating on your own farm because it’s the one you know best.
Find Kristen and Naturally Good Vibes:
Sign up for a CSA: Kristen still has CSA shares available. Her CSA is unique because it is zero waste. Her summer CSA uses reusable containers and produce bags, and her fall delivery CSA will be done in a way that no single use plastics are used. She carries this philosophy with her on the farm and stays away from anything single use as much as possible and always trying to repurpose equipment. Check out her website to see her CSA options!
Kristen started her farm in early 2019 and is going into her second season! We love checking out her bees on Instagram, and we’re so excited to follow along and see how her farm unfolds in year two, and beyond <3
Do you have land you’d like to lease to a farmer? Are you a farmer looking for land to lease? Learn more about the B.C. land Matching program here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The B.C. Land Matching Program is funded in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley by the Province of British Columbia, with support from the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., Bullitt Foundation, and Patagonia.
All photos: Naturally Good Vibes