We are a second-generation farm on Salt Spring Island, BC

Seventy-five years ago, Skye’s grandparents moved their young family from Vancouver, BC to this property on Salt Spring Island,BC, and began to farm.

Some years later, Skye’s father, Michael Arthur Larmour, formerly established Golden Maple Farm, naming it for his love of ornamental Japanese maples. He developed a reputation for this delicious, fresh vegetables, picked each day, and his farm stand became an island favourite.

In Mike’s “day job” as the manager of the island’s water district, he became concerned about water preservation and sustainability. Later in life he also become intensely passionate about climate change, writing articles in the local newspaper and educating friends and family. Mike passed away in 2015.

In 2017, Skye and her family began restoring the farm - which had been unmaintained for many years - back to productivity. In 2019, they moved to the island part-time to restart the farm.

The farm remains true to Mike’s desire to produce delicious, healthy, and affordable food in an environmentally sustainable way.

Life's changes

When I left Salt Spring and the farm in 1995, I didn’t expect to ever move back. I had little interest in farming or rural life. I moved to Victoria, where I built a life for myself: a career in printing, then in government, got married, bought a house, had a son. And yet, from an early age, I knew that one day, when my father passed away, I would have the responsibility - and opportunity - to figure out what to do with the farm, my dad’s greatest love and life work.

Why did I upend my life to return home? When my dad left us at the end of 2015, I had seen a lot of change in my life. My marriage had ended and I had begun working for the government. My son was growing up fast, and I was finding more freedom. But the biggest changes were happening inside me.

My dad was a devout environmentalist, championing causes such as watershed protection around Maxwell Lake, and sewage treatment for Ganges. Later, he became passionate about our need to address climate change. On Saturdays at lunchtime he and I would listen to CBC’s Quirk and Quarks, which would always stir conversation about our relationship with nature.

He and I are a lot alike in this way. By the time my dad passed away, I had grown so frustrated with humanity’s inaction over climate change and wanted to do something meaningful in my life to be a part of the solution. I had also become hooked on gardening.

I took the plunge and took a leave of absence from work to spend more time on the farm, cleaning it up. It became obvious that this place was where my heart was, and that I had to try to make a go of the farm. I began the long process of figuring out how to go about it.

Upending my life to return to Salt Spring and restart the farm has been pretty scary. I am not naturally a large risk taker, and leaving the security of a government job and pouring my savings into the farm feels like a big risk. It’s been stressful and the uncertainty of life is hard to deal with. But this feels like the most important thing I can do with my life. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. Working to play a small part in making the community more food secure in the face of our society’s coming challenges is how I want to spend the rest of my life.

What is regenerative agriculture?

Project Drawdown, a ranking of methods to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, lists "regenerative agriculture" (1) as the 11th most impactful change we can make to reduce our climate impact.

Regenerative agriculture is both a philosophy and a set of techniques. The philosophical part is that farming and farmers should strive to improve the natural environment generally, and to sequester carbon in their soils specifically.

The regenerative farming techniques used are vastly different than the approach taken by industrial agriculture. They include:

  • no or minimal tillage (soil disturbance)
  • keeping soil covered with mulch and plants
  • no fallow period: keeping crops growing at all times
  • using cover crops
  • complex and diverse crop rotations
  • striving for a closed-loop system of nutrients: not importing fertilizers or feeds and making sure exported nutrients are in balance with imported nutrients
  • no synthetic chemicals
  • using compost to increase fertility and add carbon

I believe improving pollinator habitat and biodiversity generally should be included.

We are striving to use all of these techniques and more to improve our natural environment.

  1. https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/food/regenerative-agriculture
maple.jpg

Our Japanese maple gardens

Many long-time residents of Salt Spring will be familiar with our Japanese maple and rhododendron gardens. Mike established them over several decades, and built an impressive collection of brilliant Japanese Maples and luscious rhododendrons. Contact us to arrange a visit.

Our philosophy of resilience, integration, and ecosystem regeneration

Resilience: “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

Farming is facing growing challenges from a changing climate, and our goal is that our farming practices help us weather the storms and share our knowledge so others can do the same. Important aspects of this include water stewardship, pollinator health, biodiversity, and careful variety selection.

Integrated agriculture is the opposite of today's industrial form of agriculture, where highly specialized farms produce a very small number of products, import a lot of fertilizers and feeds, and export (dump) wastes such as manure into the environment.

In contrast, integrated agriculture relies on diversity and seeks to integrate inputs and outputs into a closed-loop farming system in which there are is no "waste," only valuable resources.

Golden Maple Farm draws on the European Integrated Farming Framework.

Our practice of “regenerative” farming aims to go beyond sustainability to actually improve our ecosystem. We incorporate pollinator habitats into our operation, use perennials, compost and cover crops to sequester carbon, increase biodiversity, use use no tillage, and use various other ways to achieve this.