Fruit Forest is a Certified Organic farm run for the past three years by former biologist Danielle Bellefleur, who before starting the farm worked growing endangered and threatened plants for restoration purposes. Although she now grows a large variety of food including lemons, limes, oranges, cherries, figs, walnuts, peaches, quince, strawberries, hard-neck garlic and flowers, she mainly focuses on apples, having grafted 370 of the 420 trees on the farm located in Cobble Hill. She also sells eggs and pastured meat birds as well as Certified Organic apple and citrus tree saplings.
Bellefleur uses a permaculture approach to farming, using a mix of garlic, daffodils, nasturtiums, and clover as a cover crop. Her layers and meat birds are then pastured on the clover, in between the fruit trees. “That way our trees get fertilized and get natural pest control, and our chickens eat their greens,” Bellefleur says. “Since pastured chickens eat a higher percentage of greens, as opposed to grains, their meat has a higher percentage of Omegas, and tastes awesome!”
According to Bellefleur, the best thing about her job is having a flexible schedule to spend with her daughter, and being able to raise her on the farm. “There is nothing like telling her to go pick some blueberries for breakfast. And she has become our local chicken whisperer.”
Bellefleur appreciates the excellent growing weather and great support for growing organic on the island, however she also says selling their produce can be tricky considering the cost it takes to raise it. “Even if I add in a $5/hour wage, people often find the price of organic food prohibitive.”
Produce from Fruit Forest can be found on-site at the farm stand, but most sales are conducted through word-of-mouth, Facebook, and trades (fresh caught salmon or other locally raised meats in exchange for chicken, garlic, or fruit). Eggs can also be found at the Community Farm Store.
Farming Connections is a new initiative of the Cowichan Green Community in partnership with the Government of Canada which focuses on bringing farmers out of the isolating lifestyle that farming creates. Our goal is to engage ageing farmers by holding …See Full Project