Focus on the farmer: Kelowna’s Wise Earth Farms are innovators to watch

Meet Farmers John Hofer & Brenda Paterson of Wise Earth Farm

Local foodie Jennifer Schell will be giving Capital News readers an insider’s view of the movers and shakers in the local food scene. Today she’s profiling Wise Earth Farm.

By Jennifer Schell

John Hofer and Brenda Paterson are two modern, urban farmers who leased two acres of land near Mission Creek in 2011 and began to cultivate their dream. Driving by Wise Earth Farm on KLO Road you will note the most beautiful rows of produce running along side greenhouses all naturally grown and bursting with health. John and Brenda are trailblazers and leaders in this modern farming style operation and offer a beacon of light and inspiration for all of those who have felt the call to the land.

In this day and age, the cost of farmland has become unattainable for many young farmers, so they have found new ways to farm, whether it be through leasing land or utilizing backyard soil, they are growing food.

John and Brenda are all about the dirt and utilize a philosophy of integrating agriculture principles to regenerate the soils to increase system biodiversity.

READ ALSO: SCHELL MEETS JORDAN MARR OF UNEARTHED FARMS, FINE VEGGIES AND HERBS

There is a science to tending land that many do not understand, or respect, and it is absolutely crucial to the sustainability of the earth for future cultivation. They use greenhouse systems to extend the local production season and to diversity their crops, and also use a unique square foot farming technique to maximize production and profit making their farming business a viable one. The farm is thriving and this community-minded dynamic duo has exciting future plans in the works.

The latest news from the farm is that they have joined forces with Kelowna’s team at Start Fresh Kitchen, a local catering business/cooking school that also founded The Start Fresh Project farm.

Lead by Chef Michael Buffett, it is a full circle concept farm program to both teach and supply their business with produce grown on the farm. The Wise Earth farming team will be taking over farm and education programming for the community minded CAFÉ Program.

“The Culinary Arts and Farm Education (CAFE) Program is a six-month, twice-a-week, program that spans the growing season. It is geared towards community members who are experiencing barriers to employment related to mental health.” Upon completion of the program, the Start Fresh team helps to facilitate entry into employment made possible by local employment partners. The 2019 program runs from April 3 to Sept. 25.

“The students will learn all aspects of farming and if they don’t want to become farmers they will hopefully come out of the program feeling like confident gardeners. In the future we plan to teach farming/gardening courses to the public,” said and Brenda.

More information here: www.startfreshproject.com

Currently, locals can access the array of beautiful Wise Earth produce in season at the Kelowna Farmers Market.

“We also sell to many restaurants in town and are in the process of selling to grocery stores as well.”

Fans can stay posted on where to buy on their website www.wisearthfarm.com

“It’s hard to say what will happen with the weather. Even with a cold spring, we can usually anticipate radishes at the beginning of April, followed by greens such as Bok Choy, spinach, tatsoi, Red Russian kale, and mustard greens,” said Brenda.

Brenda enjoys making this Winter Greens Salad loaded with flavours and vitamins, it also provides a super charge of energy.

In a large bowl, mix together an assortment of chopped kales, mustard greens, grated carrots, grated radishes, thinly sliced red onions and toasted sunflower seeds.

For the dressing whisk together: 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar, 1tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp maple syrup, and a pinch of Herbamare or sea salt and black pepper. Toss together and enjoy.

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