Makaria Farm in 2007
We (Brock and Heather) bought 10 acres of land in June 2007, moving to Duncan in the Cowichan Valley from Victoria, BC. The land had been used as pasture for many years: the only building was a ramshackle shed at the front of the property.
We brought in hydro, installed a well pump and septic system, and built our future market (and temporary home) that summer, then spent the winter building a deer fence around the property.
Makaria Farm in 2008
We started farming strawberries and vegetables on half an acre in 2008.
With a limited amount of produce, we often sold out at the local farmers market in Duncan. We also sold through our farm stand, and ran a small CSA program that fed seven families.
Makaria Farm in 2009
In 2009 we expanded to farming three acres by selling at two additional farmers markets (in Nanaimo and Sidney), increasing our CSA program to 28 families and creating our own mini farmers market at our farm gate on Tuesday evenings. Saison Market Vineyard, Hilary’s Cheese, Teafarm, and Terra Nossa Family Farm joined us to make the market a popular one-stop-shop.
That year we also created the Island Grains project, which offered workshops on small-scale grain growing and invited participants to get some hands-on experience by growing a small plot of grains of their choice on our property.
Makaria Farm in 2010
We made our first major equipment purchases: a mechanical transplanter and a BCS rototiller.
Makaria Farm welcomed its first apprentices: Joan, Cindy, Jeff and Caitlin.
We held our 2nd Annual Organic Tomato Plant Sale.
Our CSA program expanded to feeding 66 families, and we continued to sell at farmers markets in Duncan, Sidney and Nanaimo.
We began supplying the Community Farm Store with our broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, cabbages, butternut squash, kale, zucchini and chard.
Makaria Farm in 2011
With 6.5 acres of land in cultivation, we continued to refine our growing practices to become more efficient. Our apprentices for the 2011 season were Jill, Tim and Mike. (Together, we had six bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree!)
We (finally!) purchased a tractor and began investing in implements.
Makaria Farm Market opened in spring 2011, to provide a convenient source of quality local, organic food to our community 7 days a week.
We hosted our 3rd Annual Organic Tomato Plant Sale. Our popular CSA program fed 74 families. We continued to sell at the Duncan Farmer’s Market and the Bowen Road Farmers’ Market, and to supply the fabulous Community Farm Store.
We got all famous when we were featured in a local food documentary by Nick Versteeg of DV Cuisine, called Food Security: It’s in Your Hands:
Makaria Farm in 2012
Our 2011 apprentices were so gosh-darned amazing that we created a full-time employment position with the hope that at least one would return to us: Apprentice Tim took on the challenge of returning to the farm as an experienced grower. He was joined by Elia, a UBC agriculture student, who managed the farm’s grocery store orders and harvesting.
We got all innovative and launched our Food Security Club to meet the demand for local, organic food in the off-season. Our vegetable share CSA program continued for a 5th year, and we hosted our 4th Annual Organic Tomato Plant Sale.
We continued to supply the Community Farm Store and Niagara Grocery, and added Fairfield Market and Ingredients Health Food & Apple Cafe to our list of grocery stores. Our customers at the Duncan Farmer’s Market and the Bowen Road Farmers’ Market welcomed us back.
We began selling produce to Hudson’s on First, Duncan’s newest fine dining experience.
After six years together, we got married on April 9, 2012.
Makaria Farm in 2013
By 2013 we were using all the viable land on our 10 acres and looking for suitable farmland to lease so we could continue to expand. Yee haw!
We hosted our 5th Annual Organic Tomato Plant Sale, and continued to sell our fresh produce seven days/week through our farm stand, Makaria Farm Market.
2013 was the 2nd year of our Food Security Club and the 6th year of our Vegetable Share (CSA) Program — with a new delivery option available to make it even easier for Vancouver Islanders to eat our tasty vegetables. Delivering allowed us to open our CSA program to folks from Victoria to Ladysmith to Lake Cowichan.
To help us grow more food than ever before, we hired full-time staff and some part-time helpers. In the spring, Philipp (on a work visa from Germany), Jeremiah and Emily helped us prepare the farm. Through the summer and fall we worked with Elia, Ariella, Dominic, Marae, Zach, Jordan, Jen, and Philipp once he returned to Cowichan from travelling.
Our friend Nick Versteeg of DV Cuisine used footage of our farm in his two new films, Once Upon a Day … Cowichan and Once Upon a Year … Cowichan.
Our son, Isaac Duncan McLeod, was born on September 12, 2013. He’s a cutie patootie.
Makaria Farm in 2014
After years of searching for suitable farmland with a willing owner, we signed a multi-year lease for a large section of prime agricultural land in Cowichan Bay, only five minutes away from our current farm. This new land will allow our farm to expand our production steadily over the next 5 years. We’re excited to have room to play again!
What will we do next? Wait and see …