Tom is the award-winning author of several books and articles including Dogless in Metchosin: The Ideal Dog and Other Delusions. He’s a historian who’s writings have delved deep into West Coast history and an alumni of CBC Radio where he had a weekly column titled “Country Life.”
Violaine Mitchell is the Deputy Director of Country Immunization Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She has degrees from Brown and Harvard Universities. On behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, she works with organizations like the GAVI Alliance (The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) to provide immunizations to children and people in poor and developing countries.
Together, Tom and Violaine run Small Farm Canada, a bi-monthly, national magazine with a readership of 50,000, which “promotes small-scale farming as a legitimate and viable endeavour. Says Tom;
“The magazine’s editorial position is that the lives of small-scale farmers and their families are worthy, complex and rich in possibility, and that the communities serving small-scale farmers are unique and dynamic. We must love farming, because we write about it at the office in the morning, then go out and actually do it in the afternoon on the the farm.”
On examination, it’s not so hard to understand where the passion for small-scale, sustainable farming comes from. The love of community history, the belief in the promotion of health, these are ideals that lend themselves well to the production of happy, healthy livestock and produce that feeds local families. Says Henry,
“It is an incredibly exciting time to be involved in agriculture. More and more people are making links between the environment, the way we raise food and their personal well-being. It means that some current ways of producing food are giving way to practices that are more sustainable and better for the animals. It is a great challenge, but also extremely rewarding.”
“It is a challenge in the sense that a lot of time and effort goes into ensuring that our pigs, our chickens and our sheep have outdoor time, or that they are bedded in fresh straw and hay. But it is deeply satisfying, not to mention great fun, to watch piglets running around outside like little racehorses, or to see chickens dusting themselves in the sunshine and, well, basically, just being chickens.”
Stillmeadow Farm is a classic mixed farm, raising sheep, hogs and chickens and producing hay, holly and several varieties of grain on about 100 acres of grassland in Metchosin. In partnership with Parry Bay Sheep Farm, they also provide young people with opportunities to learn about small-scale farming through their apprenticeship program.
Their products can be found at small-scale food processors and restaurants around the city including Portofino Bakery, Cafe Brio and, of course, Red Barn Market.