Farm manager Bert James loads up an Our Place vehicle with fresh produce. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Newman Farm feeds the hungry and intrigues political decision makers

Local politicians tour the Central Saanich operation

Saanich Peninsula decision makers have been drawn to Newman Farm in recent weeks, exploring the idea of using it as a model for future community farms.

Tuesday saw Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith join his Central Saanich counterpart Ryan Windsor on a tour of the property, which was also attended by Central Saanich Coun. Gord Newton and the District’s new climate action specialist Maryanna Kenney.

ALSO READ: Bumper crops of corn, garlic and berries on Peninsula farms

The party toured the farm’s grounds and were shown the restored main farmhouse, which is likely to become a museum, in the future. It is run by the Farmlands Trust Society (FLT Society) and grows a variety of produce, including zucchini, carrots, marrows, beets, kale, turnips and garlic. Much of it goes to Our Place Society, the Victoria community centre that serves the vulnerable, with 18,600 pounds of food a year providing 1,500 healthy meals each day. The farm boasts an orchard of 26 fruit trees, and sponsors have recently supplied 50 more. Some of the fruit goes to those in need and a portion is donated to a therapeutic riding group’s horses in Victoria.

“It’s a jewel in the crown of Central Saanich and we brought it back from going backwards and instead provide fresh, good food, free of insecticides,” says Carol Pickup, FLT Society chair.

The farm is relatively unique in Greater Victoria, both in its operation and outcomes, and is increasingly being seen as a model for what can be achieved with vacant farmland and a supportive council. On the tour, a vehicle from Our Place made its weekly stop, loading up multiple crates of freshly picked vegetables, as part of the farm’s “from field to plate” program.

ALSO READ: Seeds of dissent growing on Peninsula farms

Newman Farm operates in a spirit of collaboration with a number of community groups and sponsors, as well as regular visits from volunteers, who drop by to help plant, weed and pick. The District of Central Saanich, which owns the land, is their biggest supporter, having provided a 10-year lease and offers much financial and in-kind help.

The FLT Society is keen for it to be known that Newman Farm doesn’t compete with established farmers, as its food goes to charity.

Farming issues and a diverse range of passionate opinion has simmered over the last few months, with difficult decisions facing Peninsula politicians. Constituents have raised concerns of food insecurity, aging farm ownership and a serious lack of affordable housing across the Peninsula. Recently, a CRD Farmlands Trust was mooted and North Saanich is currently trying to work out what to do with the Sandown lands, both contentious issues.

ALSO READ: North Saanich extends search for Sandown operator after only one credible proposal

Down on Newman Farm, among the sunflowers swaying under a cobalt blue sky, these challenges seem far away.

Right now, the board is keen for volunteers. Years when money and manpower is scarce, the end fields are given over to the wildflowers and bees for the season. This year, they hope the land will be productive, supplying more free food to some of Greater Victoria’s most needy residents.

For more information visit farmlandstrust.org.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Farming

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

(From left) Steve Grossnickle (FLT Society board director), Coun. Gord Newton (Central Saanich), Mayor Ryan Windsor (Central Saanich), Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith (Sidney), Carol Pickup (FLT Society chair) and Bert James (Newman Farm manager). (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Just Posted

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

North Saanich man fears tougher moorage policies could cost him his home

Stewart Jackson has been living on a boat off Lillian Hoffar Park for about four years

Grave site at Ross Bay Cemetery vandalized overnight

Graffiti found on grave of Sir James Douglas

RCMP seek man who allegedly robbed Langford liquor store with a gun

Man described as six to six foot four tall, with slim build and light-coloured skin

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

Resident discovers five discarded hog heads in Vancouver Island ditch

WARNING: Graphic image may be upsetting to some readers

Canadian Premier League announces 2020 home dates for eight-team circuit

Pacific FC hosts FC Edmonton on April 11 in Langford

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

Most Read