Credit: Thomas Nowaczynski

We are Ange and Gord, two former city kitties who had a dream of starting their own farm someday. A deep love of cooking and eating really delicious food, and the desire to do something positive and environmentally friendly with our work lives led us to start a small-scale, ecologically-focused vegetable farm. Crooked Horn Farm began in 2009, just a few months after landing at our new home in the Slocan Valley. With a whole lotta passion, and not much experience, we started on this journey and haven’t looked back. Farming isn’t easy, but we love it because it is challenging, rewarding, and a life-long learning experience that gifts us an intimate connection to our land and the changing seasons. And food! So so much delicious food!!

Our farm is in Winlaw, BC, right on the beautiful and pristine Slocan River. We are surrounded by mountains and trees, and shrubs and hedgerows that provide a diverse habitat that is a haven for insects, birds and other wildlife. Permaculture projects on the farm include riverbank and wetland restoration, preservation of wild areas, perennial cover crops, and flowering areas for bees and beneficial insects.

Certified Organic since 2011 (Kootenay Organic Growers Society producer #78), we take great care in managing our soil for optimum nutrients and micronutrients while minimizing tillage as much as possible. We grow our delicious produce using plant- and mineral-based fertility, without the use of animal-based inputs like manures, fish products, blood meal, feather meal and bone meal. While we feel it’s important to make use of these agricultural wastes, using animal products didn’t align with our plant-based lifestyle. Starting our own farm gave us the opportunity to explore other approaches to fertility. While this style of farming is still relatively uncommon, we embraced the challenge and have found simple but effective ways to grow our produce veganically, while ensuring our plants are healthy and vibrant.

What we do is really not that different from other small-scale veggie farms. Much of what we add to our soil is actually what would be fed to animals before becoming manure, so we’re just skipping the middle man! We use organic alfalfa pellets that we ferment with compost, seed meals, rock phosphate and other minerals and micronutrients, kelp and farm-made compost. We cover crop whenever we can to feed our soil and the beneficial insects and pollinators. Instead of inverting our soil with a rototiller, we use a power harrow and broadfork on our permanent beds. Heavy-duty silage tarps are used to minimize the need for tillage. We use alfalfa hay mulch on many of our crops, and reusable landscape fabrics that can last for over a decade. We reuse and recycle materials wherever we can, minimize waste and creatively repurpose things that might otherwise be thrown away, and treat our materials with care to extend their life. A strong sense of responsibility for this land we steward, and its connection to the greater ecosystem around us, informs our farming practices every day.