Let’s talk about local organic produce!
Gary and Inanna, with the help of local farm workers, grow a colourful array of organic produce – from flowers to leeks, from Romanesco to radishes, and from pumpkins to rainbow swiss chard! Their garlic is specifically suited to their growing conditions and their ducks and geese turn their weeds and bugs into eggs! These true blue Kootenay farmers recognize the importance of nutrient-dense soils for growing nutrient-dense produce!
Read on to learn more about what makes this True Local farm awesome…
Who are the farmers at Tipiland?
Gary Diers and Inanna Judd own and operate Tipiland Organic Produce.
What do you grow?
Tipiland grows certified organic produce and flowers for the West Kootenay market. Our main crops are:
♥️ Argenta Gold garlic,
♥️ Kale (green, red, purple, black, rainbow black, baby),
♥️ Swiss chard (green and rainbow),
♥️ Parsley (curly and Italian),
♥️ Bunched carrots,
♥️ Lettuce (romaine and leaf),
♥️ A huge variety of Asian greens/bok chois,
♥️ Bunched radishes and turnips,
♥️ Napa cabbage,
♥️ and more!
We also grow a great variety of food for home use such as tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet), artichokes, eggplant, broccoli, potatoes, berries, tree fruit and grapes, some of which show up in the store from time to time. Growing and saving seeds of over 100 varieties of vegetables and flowers keeps us on our toes.
No kidding! Wow, it sounds like you have a seriously productive and biodiverse piece of land. Could you offer a brief description of your farm operation?
Tipiland makes weekly deliveries of organic produce from late April to November. We farm the benches in Argenta above Kootenay Lake in a wilderness setting. Domestic geese mow our home orchard and ducks eat the bugs, while both give us eggs. While Inanna and I do most of the fieldwork, Sarah Ross is our main employee helping us throughout the season. Six to ten excellent farm workers are hired from our community to harvest, clean and package the produce each week. All produce is certified to the Canadian organic standards by our local certifying body, the Kootenay Organic Growers Society (KOGS). We are committed to providing the purest, freshest, most nutrient dense and beautiful organic produce possible.
Well, I think you’re succeeding! How long have you been farming (and building up your skills!)?
Tipiland is in its 28th anniversary, beginning in 1989, and we have been operating the farm since the mid 1990’s. While we had dreams of farming 20 years earlier it only actually became a reality in the more recent past. However, we have had huge gardens in Argenta for the past 38 years and have gardened in other regions as well.
Tipiland has been around as long as I have! What motivated you to start farming?
While in university in the 70’s, we were casting about for a meaningful and positive occupation. We had always been avid gardeners and, as we were living in a farming community at the time, we realized we would enjoy growing healthy food for more than just ourselves. Land was expensive and the market for organics was next to nil at that time, so we moved to the Purcell Mountains to homestead.
Industrial agriculture never appealed to us as we watched the soil wash away, food being poisoned with chemicals, the groundwater becoming polluted, and an agribusiness completely dependent on a nonrenewable resource – oil. For the health of people and of the planet, and for a system of farming that would truly work in the long run, organic was and still is the obvious way to go.
Well, I think you found the right community to settle into! And it seems more and more like the general public is catching on to the idea that organic is indeed the way to go. What are some of your greatest joys in farming?
♥️ Witnessing the garlic shoots poking through the mulch in early spring – the promise of a new season.
♥️ Watching shoppers put Tipiland produce into their baskets and then imagining the delicious forthcoming meal.
♥️ Sitting down to a meal that is completely homegrown.
♥️ The magnificent view of Mt. Willet towering above us with Kootenay Lake below and the beautiful forest surrounding us.
♥️ The moments of joy in always being out there – enveloped in fog, touched by the sun, refreshed by the rain.
I can certainly relate to a few of those. “C” is definitely my favourite! What are some of your greatest challenges?
Our greatest farming challenge is probably finding time to do anything other than farming!
A lot of farmers definitely struggle with that one… What is your vision for your farm?
Our vision for Tipiland Organic Produce is to supply the healthiest organic produce to the people of our region by caring for our soil and using labour intensive methods to make a modest living. In many ways, we’ve met our goals, but we’re always learning more and getting better at what we do.
Why is local food and/or local purchasing important to you?
Eating local food and enjoying local flowers puts people in touch with where they live. Food is one of the deepest roots of culture. We are people of the Kootenays. Shouldn’t we be eating a Kootenay diet?
Not only is it a wonderful way of defining who we are, but it’s also an economic boost to the region. Sooner or later, as transportation systems get more expensive, eating locally will be the mainstay of our diet. Why wait? Lets do it now! The very best way to make this transition is to grow your own and/or regularly buy local and organic. In buying more local food, you support local farms which, in turn, support your local food culture.
If you could deliver a message directly to Co-op members/customers, what would it be?
A big thank you to our West Kootenay neighbours who have supported our farm for these many years, and we hope you will continue to enjoy our organic produce.