The farm started out as a dream in 2009. I, Michelle White, knew it was time to embark on a more fulfilling path after leaving a career in the investment field. Despite no direct farming background, careful evaluation still led me to determine that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I have the huge good fortune of an understanding and supportive husband, Steve Ross, plus a gorgeous piece of fertile property right here in the city. Steve still works full-time off the farm but devotes all his spare time and energy assisting in its development.
When we started, we had no idea that this property has a farming history! It was part of a 100-acre parcel originally farmed by the Masters family in the 1920s and 30s. Evergreen School across the street was built in 1961 and many a Campbell Riverite was educated there — witness the many marbles found as we prepared the field for planting! The neighbourhood has certainly changed over the years, but the property is still well suited for farming. We are both tremendously satisfied with the outcome and are excited about its future.
Choosing organic blueberries as the primary crop was an easy decision. They are a most wonderful food: delicious, healthy, versatile, easy to freeze and many people really enjoy them. The lovely flat and open south-facing grass field on the corner was perfect to establish the blueberry planting.
To become a certified organic farm was also, for us, automatic. From the outset we’ve worked with IOPA, the Islands Organic Producers Association. All organic producers must adhere to the Canadian Organic Standards as well as comply with the more restrictive rules IOPA has adopted. We believe organic certification is the best way to demonstrate our dedication to providing the finest quality produce. It demands a commitment to growing practices, which promote a healthy and sustainable environment.
We are proud that Ross Mountain Farm was certified organic by IOPA in August of 2013. We’ve met many organic farmers here on Vancouver Island and get more inspired with each conversation. We share a commitment to a healthy soil ecosystem, and continually work to improve it in a sustainable way. As our growing experience broadens and our soil comes into balance, we remain dedicated to reducing our off-farm inputs over time.
Our farm is a 3½ acre work in progress. Now that the blueberries are established and bearing fruit, we’re shifting our attention to other areas of the property, gradually replacing non-native or unproductive areas with native trees, shrubs and food producing plants. We’ve created a market garden and continue to experiment with suitable crop choices, with the goal of contributing to the supply of good wholesome locally grown food for Campbell River.