Senden Farm Sustainable Agricultural Project, Open House Tues. June 26
Watermelon, zebra tomatoes, cantaloupe, eggplant, purple peppers, goosebump pumpkins, grapes, gourds and kiwi fruit? Maybe surprising crops for an area where we practice “Gardening Between Frosts” (Dave Havard, 1987, Smithers, BC)
But Hazelton’s Senden Farm has all these plus more familiar northern standards like broccoli, beans, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, blueberries, currents, raspberries plus a perennial herb garden.
The fields, raised beds and greenhouse are alive in Two Mile as a crew of six young people from the Hazelton area experience hands on learning of sustenance farming and healthy living. This is the second year for a farm crew project; the first was 2010, funded by Service Canada Youth Employment Strategy.
The idea is to offer work and life skills that can be taken back to home communities and shared. The Senden Farm is a project of the Upper Skeena Development Centre with a vision of creating and developing an agricultural resource, training and demonstration site as well as a job and life skills centre where people can enjoy the land and work together.
Gary Sampson from Glen Vowell, had some experience in the village, but it was more just hilling potatoes and weeding. Now he finds it easy to identify plants and is amazed at how fast things grow. He laughs that the only downside is that he now always stops to pull weeds when he sees them! He plans to build his own greenhouse for peppers and tomatoes.
Robert Calwale, who says he’s always liked broccoli has been amazed at all the different varieties of fruits and vegetables they are growing. Both his grandfathers, one in Kispiox and one in Glen Vowell, are excited and glad that he is learning gardening and plans to use his knowledge to start greenhouses and gardens.
The six young people were hired from applicants responding to an ad and receive minimum wage. As well as learning farming they do activities once a week, including kayaking, rope and rock climbing and horseback riding; expanding their experiences of healthy outdoor recreation. They’ll also be helping put together the ‘Good Food Box’ program which offers affordable healthy food for community members.
The property was a dairy farm run by the Senden family in the 1940s and 50s and the agricultural project began in 2009 with the construction of a root cellar and greenhouse, followed by the renovation and restoration of the farm house.
There is a commercial kitchen where harvested foods can be prepared and preserved, teaching a new generation the fine art of putting food by. At one time the Hazeltons were a highly productive agricultural area and everyone had gardens.
When the crew is not in the fields or greenhouse, they may be found in the kitchen making huckleberry muffins or, later in the season, dehydrating tomatoes or squash.
Senden Farm will host an open house June 26 and will offer tours for schools and other interested groups. Later in the year they will be selling the produce they’ve grown in their roadside stand or at the Sunday Farmers’ Market.
For more info call USDC 2250 842-6110 or the farm 250 842-2284. The website is:http://www.usdc.bc.ca/senden/About/index.html