Organic wheat adds to farm business

Seedy Saturday vendor not only grows wheat on Vancouver Island, but also organic pigs

Bea Graf was on hand to show off her organic wheat at Seedy Saturday in Qualicum Beach.

Bea Graf was on hand to show off her organic wheat at Seedy Saturday in Qualicum Beach.

When people think of agricultural produce on Vancouver Island, wheat isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

However, Dirk Keller and Bea Graf at Sloping Hill Farm are working in their own small way to change that.

Graf noted the wheat they had on display at Seedy Saturday — from wheat berries to ground flour — was all organic.

“We keep our own seed,” Graf said. “The organic wheat is better for lots of reasons. The normal wheat you buy in the store is treated with pesticides. This isn’t.”

The 12 acres of organic wheat they grow on their Parker Road farm in Qualicum Beach doesn’t pay the bills, she readily admits.

That job goes to the heritage pigs that form the mainstay of their       business.

For eight years Sloping Hill Farm has allowed their pigs to roam freely, socialize and engage in instinctive behaviour such as rooting, wallowing and foraging.

The breeding animals are kept in social groups and there is no teeth clipping, tail docking or ear marking. Litters of piglets are kept together to properly socialize them, which tends to prevent fighting and stress.

All animals at Sloping Hill Farm can freely access the outdoors at any time.

Raising their animals this way is more than just humane. It’s also good business.

The sunshine, fresh air and good feed combine with a low-stress environment to make healthier animals and avoids the need for medications.

With no chemicals, hormones or medication in their waste products, the pigs help fertilize the farm — helping to grow, among other things, 12 acres of prime organic wheat.