In 2009, a group of Lardeau Valley community members pulled together to form Lakehead and Beyond Produce, a not-for-profit society that set out to help rebuild the strong, healthy agricultural & horticultural economy our valley once knew. With uncertainties over what land would be available to begin and a multitude of ideas being bantered about, a noticeable gap in the market for a CSA program steered Lakehead toward its first opportunity. (CSA- Community Supported Agriculture, is a program where community members can buy a share of the farm’s produce. The share is purchased at the beginning of the season, and in return, the shareholder receives a weekly box of the freshest, naturally grown, seasonal produce over the growing season. For more information visit http://lakeheadproducts.webs.com
In 2010, the Lakehead board members leased approximately 2 acres of land in the heart of Meadow Creek. Volunteers worked together to fence the property, prepare the land, and build the first greenhouse. Garlic went in that autumn and a further array of crops went in the following spring. One full-time and two part-time workers were hired, CSA shares sold quickly and the first year proved to be a success. Now in the second year the, CSA program has gained many more shareholders and has proved itself to be the ideal flagship for increasing the awareness for the necessity of building local, sustainable food sources.
Having the Lakehead Market Gardens has provided the local primary school with learning opportunities through visits to the farm throughout the season, and housed the children’s squash growing project, it provided the local Harvest Festival with an agricultural backdrop which allowed for a multitude of produce oriented fun and games; it ensured a plentiful supply of fresh farm vegetables, (often wheel-barrowed direct to market from the field!) to the new Meadow Creek Sunday Market, and has provided farm tours and growing advice to visitors from near and far. Other Lakehead projects now include a management project for the invasive thistles which have wreaked havoc on so much of the Valley’s valuable farm land, creating a hub that can provide practical advice and help to locals wishing to work and create an income from their land, and excitingly, this year has seen Lakehead embarking on a challenging project to create a seed potato industry in the valley.
In 2011 a permanent home for Lakehead was found, and the vision to provide the Lardeau Valley with an agricultural & horticultural resource hub has come closer to becoming a reality. Thanks to amazing support from some incredibly generous local community members, a 20+ acre site in Meadow Creek has been purchased, and Lakehead has a long term lease. The hard but rewarding work continues!