The Green Moustache always sources 100% organic produce and chooses local good when in season. We will profile our farmer friends regularly, sharing their soil to stomach stories.
By Kevin Damaskie
When you meet a farmer, look at their hands. They are a roadmap to the soil. The earth is embedded in their hard callouses… dark, tracing lines pointing to long days of toil. These lines lead directly to our stomachs and provide some solutions to our current climate crisis.
Just ask Simone McIsaac. As one of the founding partners of Rootdown Organic Farm in the Pemberton Meadows, Simone’s hands are strong, earth-hardened and embedded with the soil of her farm. In 2009, Rootdown Organic Farm started growing mixed vegetables destined for tables in restaurants and homes in Pemberton, Whistler and Vancouver.
Business partners Simone and Sarah met while learning about small-scale organic agriculture at the UBC Farm Sowing Seeds Practicum Program. After the course, Rootdown grew some roots in the Pemberton Valley. The verdant land and agricultural history were attractive for new farmers. In the early years, they focused on Lower Mainland farmers markets, and have moved toward weekly vegetable boxes and specialty restaurant crops – particularly a gourmet, 12-ingredient salad mix.
Fast forward to 2016. Rootdown farms 2.5 acres every season on a rotation on their 7 acre farm. Using cover crops and animal grazing to build the soil, Simone says being a farmer is a great life.
“I’m a farmer because it’s never boring, there is always something to learn, problems to solve and ideas to test”, she says. “It all starts with the soil and we are working hard to continually build healthy, organic soil at our farm.”
We are all eaters. And as we look closer to home for healthy food, The Green Moustache is committed to organic and local. Simone says going in this direction is one large step toward a lower carbon food future.
“People want to be connected to where their food comes from”, says Simone. “People are more health conscious and are understanding how organic food is good for people and the planet. The closer we get to home with our food, the less carbon is connected to our food through transportation. There are challenges and opportunities to sow more seeds in Pemberton’s agricultural community, particularly as local eaters tap into organic foods and farms.”
When asked what she would do if the Wizard of Oz came to the valley and made Simone the boss of all things farming, she says she would wave a magic wand that would have back-yard gardens blossoming throughout all neighbourhoods.
“It’s funny as it could hurt our business, but everybody could have their own little plot. You don’t need a lot of land to grow food for a family”, Simone says.
Another positive trend Simone has observed in the local farming community is the prevalence of women farmers.
“I think it’s fantastic to see a lot of women farmers in Pemberton in a sector that was typically male dominated”, she says. “We get job applications from women in a ratio of 15:1 women to men. We have had a farm intern program in the past, and most of them were females. Training women farmers and connecting with other women farmers in this valley is a very rewarding part of this job.”
Simone’s advice for developing farmers is to work on as many farms as possible and try to attend an agricultural training course to learn from others’ experience.
“Farming is such a great lifestyle. I think farmers can be people from so many walks of life,” she says. “Just because someone has not grown something it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t farm. Whatever your history is you bring that to the farm.”
To connect with Rootdown Organic Farm go to rootdownfarm.net.