Farmer Profile: Beetnik Farm


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(Ian’s daughter Rhiannon prepares to cultivate their fields)

Beetnik Farm is one of the many wonderful farms that provides Niagara Grocery with fresh local produce,
and what better way to highlight the local farmers of Greater Victoria than to share their stories!

We were delighted to interview Ian Paul, the head of Beetnik Farm, about his love of farming and his
incredible organic farm! Beetnik Farm began operations in early 2012, leasing a 3.4 acre property in Central
Saanich. They started, quite literally, from the ground up. According to Ian, the first few months were spent
building the infrastructure, as there was no fencing or utilities on site. Even though there was much work to
be done, they were still able to plant a small crop that first spring. From that small crop, they have managed to
grow beautiful fruits and vegetables throughout much of the year with “fresh greens in the greenhouses, root
crops that store well and fruit crops for preserving”.

 

Ian has been growing food for most of his life. When asked about his favourite crops to grow he is brought back to
his childhood:

“I grew up in Northern Alberta in the 70′s. Back then people had big veggie gardens, like really big veggie gardens!
My mom and Omi always got me out there to help out and I never complained because I just loved everything about
it. The two crops that take me back to those days are carrots and peas. To this day, when I am working in the carrot
plot at Beetnik, the smell of the carrots as they come out of the earth transports me right back to my mom’s garden.
Then there are the peas, tender and sweet. I have never met anyone who did not love standing in a garden shelling
peas and eating them on the spot, it’s tough to stop.”

 

When asked about his growing philosophy, Ian says they strive to have as much of a ‘closed loop’ as possible. This means
using as little off farm inputs as they can, saving seeds and growing crops specifically for green manure to improve the
soil quality. Along with these great techniques, Ian and his family strongly believe in the power of enthusiasm in one’s
work. Ian’s warm and enthusiastic attitude has contributed greatly to his success in making Beetnik Farm a ‘growing
food’ enterprise.

 

When asked what steps he thinks Victorians can make to improve local food security, Ian responds with a call for
community support of local producers and businesses. This support, he says, must include going back to preparing
meals using fresh ingredients that are seasonally available. It is this seasonal food philosophy and local support which
Niagara Grocery works to achieve through connections with small-scale farmers and producers such as Beetnik Farm.
Without these producers, the ability of a business such as ours to provide the community with healthy, fresh,
seasonal produce would cease to exist. Beetnik Farm is our local food inspiration…who’s yours?

 

 

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