Couple working on a small plot

Nicole and John Faires adopt a French farming method for local food production

John and Nicole Faires begin to ready their raised beds on their SPIN farm in Parksville where they will produce locally-grown produce for up to 400 people this year.

John and Nicole Faires begin to ready their raised beds on their SPIN farm in Parksville where they will produce locally-grown produce for up to 400 people this year.

A new business in District 69 is hoping to increase food security by making locally-grown, natural food affordable and accessible to everyone.

Nicole and John Faires are in the midst of preparing their garden beds and are about to start planing seeds on a Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) farm located in Parksville. SPIN farming has been used for hundreds of years in France with small urban and suburban plots supplying much of Paris and other cities food supplies.

Rather than growing in long rows worked by big machines, SPIN farming uses wider, shorter beds of crops grown intensively or closer together and weeded by hand. The method requires more labour but the amount of food grown per square foot is much higher.

The Faires Farm uses only natural materials to fertilize the soil, produces no waste and uses extensive water conservation techniques.  They will be planting only organic and heritage breeds of seeds to grow Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) produce which means no use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or GMO seeds. CNG has annual inspections done by a local farmer within an ethical system of peer-review.

John, who is the marketing manager for the business, said their goal is to offer fresh, local, organically grown vegetables and herbs delivered straight to people’s homes the same day their food is picked.

His wife Nicole grew up on a hobby farm in rural Montana where she learned all about farming. The author of two books, The Ultimate Guide to Permaculture and The ultimate Guide to Homesteading, she brings her extensive farming knowledge to the business.

The two have realized that farming is an endangered profession and on Vancouver Island food security is an issue that needs some attention. Ninety per cent of the Island’s food is brought in from the outside and according to some experts there are only three days’ worth of fresh food on the Island to feed people in the non-summer months.

“We are both passionate about farming and food security. One reason we are doing this is to prove it can be done. We expect to feed about 400 people on half an acre and that is not common anymore,” admitted John.

Some of the benefits of eating locally include improved food security and a reduction in green house gas emissions.

The Faires who are just starting out their home grown business said they have received tremendous support from the local community so they want to give back and have launched a Food Scholarship program. John said they are providing five full season, Family Box subscriptions to families who are in need, providing each of those families with 24 weeks of fresh, healthy vegetables, delivered right to their door.

“We were blown away by the support we got when we started about a month ago so we wanted to give back.  We have been in contact with local organizations and we want the food to go to people who really need it,” said John.

The farmers are asking for some help with the program.

“We are able to cover 50% of the subscription, but would love if the community can help by donating the remaining $1750 it will cost to reach our goal.”

Naturally produced fresh vegetable are the healthiest foods we can eat but for some the cost is prohibitive.  The fresher and more natural the produce the higher the price.  John said most food provided to those in need is processed and non-perishable.

“We think that there is nothing better we can give to those in need than the gift of fresh produce,” said John who added, “another important factor is that food donations drop dramatically over the summer season, creating a food shortage for needy families.”

John said so far they have sold about half of their food subscriptions and he is confident they will sell all of them.  He said they looked at Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in which the community steps up and pays for a whole season of food but came up with a better business model.

“There are problems with CSA’s.  There are risks if crops don’t produce and typically customers have to pick up the food at the farm.  We initiated a delivery program and put a no risk guarantee on it.”

He said if they can’t fulfill an oder they will offer a 50% rebate on whatever has been pre-paid or they can have a 100% credit that will go towards an order in the next season.  They are also providing a Composting Program which is unique to Faires Farms.

As part of the composting program customers are asked to save a small bucket of kitchen waste every week and leave it out for them to pick up when they deliver the weekly bag or box of vegetables.  They provide the bucket and will leave a clean one with the delivery so that you never need to clean it.  In return for the precious kitchen waste they give a $2 credit for every full bucket, up to $40 per season.

John said collecting the compost is part of their zero waste gardening practice and while it is more labour intensive it is how they want to operate.  He said most of their business has come from word of mouth and by Facebook. He said on their website they have asked for land partnerships and so far have had over 20 acres offered to them.  For now the couple will till the soil on their half acre plot in Parksville which includes 9000 sq. ft. of hoop houses over hundreds of raised beds.  For more information go to fairesfarms.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased in Parksville

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Map of the site of a proposed 60-unit building project in French Creek. (RDN map)
Legal counsel wants board to award development permit for French Creek project

Issue is on agenda for RDN board meeting on June 22

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read