Hidden Pond Permaculture Farm acknowledges the farm resides on the traditional Snuneymuxw Territory.
We are grateful to be the steward of this land and are blessed to have been gifted our farm name in Hul’q’umi’num ---- skweykwul’t xaxtsa’
ABOUT THE FARMER
- STEPHEN LEVESQUE
Over the last 15 years, I have been on a journey as a farmer, father, permaculture designer and horticultural therapist weaving together deep human connections with the profound gifts found in nature. Along the way, I have been supported and mentored by countless communities, individuals and organizations who have allowed me to glean the experience and knowledge which are directly reflected in the land which feeds and nourishes me, my family, and the Island community: Hidden Pond Permaculture Farm on Gabriola Island.
In early 2016 we moved onto the land with our young son Felix and immediately began work on the market garden, with the idea that we would start selling vegetables. In August our second child, Cedar, was born on the land, in a home birth, which was just what we wanted – the whole idea was to raise a family on the farm. We also wanted animals as part of the system, both for how I wanted the land to work, and also because I wanted to teach the kids how to be around animals and various skills of animal husbandry. There were already dairy sheep on the land, and kunekune pigs, which I took on the task of looking after in return for a rent reduction.
Once we had some surplus from the market garden, we loaded up the wagon, sunflowers on the front and all the surplus vegetables we could fit in there, the kale and the chard in a bucket of water which made it really heavy, and Felix and I would ring the bell as we pushed the wagon around the neighbourhood, which was an awesome way to get to know everybody and demonstrate our dedication to being on the farm.
So things grew from there, and after a lull year due to some life changes, I saw the community-supported agriculture take right off again, and then there was a shake-up when the owners decided they wanted to sell the land. So there were a few months of uncertainty until a new buyer appeared, Mark Fettes, who I’d gotten to know through the school on Gabriola where I work. That was an interesting time, when I wasn’t sure what the future would hold. But now, as of 2020, the farm is secure, and the garden is thriving and expanding, and many possibilities lie before us.
Following me throughout my life, from my first experiences of farming on Pender Island and later entering into this landscaping world or plant world, was my work with individuals with disabilities. When the opportunity arose for me to go to Vancouver Island University, in my late twenties, Horticultural Therapy was the only thing that really spoke to me – as a tool to use on myself, first, and then as something I could offer to others. That spirit is really part of the farm, that indivduals coming to the land, walking the land, working in the gardens, experience a kind of healing. Eventually, the goal is that this will be a big part of the farm.
Even now, in realm of hosting woofers or interns, there is a natural healing or growth that can happen. The farm can be a place of respite or connection, a place to chill out or be active in the garden, somewhere you can process things differently from in an urban landscape.
The farm is a great place to learn. Wanting it for my family, it’s just natural I should want to do that for others as well. I also work as an education assistant, and so having those skills, the farm offers so many opportunities to leverage and pass on knowledge about connecting with and taking care of the land. This is part of neighbourhood-supported agriculture as well – the chance to experience good food, see how it’s grown, and then spot places where something similar could be done in other neighbourhoods.
There are various opportunities to learn, from the kids’ camps in the summer to future adult camps to the connections with universities. A Geography class from VIU comes to visit every other year. I am open to new ideas and proposals… anyone who has a possibility in mind is welcome to contact me. I’ll be building an outdoor classroom, in the open air but covered, with skylights and a chalkboard, to make it easier to combine that kind of teaching with walkthroughs and hands-on experiences. Eventually we might have teaching days or teaching weekends with lots of different opportunities on offer.
Then there’s the opportunity for individuals to come and write books… to ground into their own theories and ideas in a safe spot, cosy and warm with good food! And the opportunity to jump in and lend a hand, get to know the land and the people who are working it, maybe learn new skills at the same time. So we’re looking at getting a yurt in due course…
"What’s in a Hidden Pond Food Box - much more than the anticipation of each week's fare of freshly harvested fruits and veg and savoury culinary surprises. It fuels not only our bodies, it connects us to our community by way of Stephen’s vision and passion -
* for sustainable farming practices that contribute to food security on Gabriola
* for permaculture education programs from Life Sprouts to internships to community workshops that build skills and nurture respect
Indeed we are part of something bigger and better thanks to Stephen."
Robin & Gerry Bowes