Passionate about food. Committed to the environment. Creative entrepreneurs. And harder workers than you’d believe. That’s today’s young organic farmers in British Columbia.
They have to be—they’re taking on the heavy load of high land prices, a market affected by free trade policy, and a retail food distribution system working against them. Success is a puzzle for each farmer to solve with ingenious solutions.
Take Matt and Molly Thurston, the thirty-somethings who took over Bob McCoubrey’s organic pear orchard. They have full-time jobs, involvement in community-based projects, plus their farm and business, Claremont Ranch Organics. But all they can talk about is how much they love farming. That’s passion.
They met while taking the first organic agriculture course at Guelph University. After settling in Molly’s home town of Kelowna and establishing themselves professionally in the agriculture industry, they took time off in 2005 to travel around England WWOOFing and observing various models of farming. Inspiration took hold: they would strike out on their own.
Just one problem. Land prices in BC are so high that most aspiring young farmers don’t have a hope of acquiring agricultural property. Not unless there’s family help or divine intervention.
Or, in the case of the Thurstons, unless there’s a holistically-minded wise mentor dedicated to helping support the future of local food security. Enter Bob McCoubrey.
After working with Farmer Bob for several years in his organic pear orchard, learning the ropes from the guru, it was time to act. The amicable parties negotiated reasonable terms that enabled the Thurstons to acquire the farm (as long as they maintained their full-time jobs). In January 2011 the papers were signed. Matt and Molly took over and launched Claremont Ranch Organics.
The farm specializes in pears, but there are soft tree fruits and chicken’s eggs, too. The Thurstons work their half dozen acres on their own—even to the point of doing all the picking at harvest.
Admirable—but. We worry they work too hard. Young farmers shouldn’t have the burden of taking on such challenges just to feed us. Farming in BC today is a hard road, but Matt and Molly—and others like them—uncomplainingly take on the heavy load.
Since we’re all about wellness, we want everyone to enjoy a great work life balance. We’re keen on these folks who grow our fruit remaining healthy. Not to mention our hankering after a lifetime’s supply of those pears. They’re the best we’ve ever had. Keep them coming, Claremont Ranch Organics.
Take a load off on us, Matt and Molly. With the good tuja readers—not to mention their friends and relations—supporting local, organic growers, we hope our Canadian farmers will enjoy some R&R, as well as their satisfying work in the fields.