A Fond Farewell to A Rocha Farmers
The A Rocha Brooksdale community has been graced by extraordinary farmers over the last many years. Two of these extraordinary folk are moving on from A Rocha as the 2020 season wraps up.
We want to reintroduce them to you and let them have the floor for their own goodbyes:
Paul Neufeld came to A Rocha back in 2004 and diligently built a sustainable agriculture program that serves over 500 people/week. Anyone who has met Paul knows him as a deeply humble, infectiously affable, and super hard working person. He has trained and mentors scores of interns, staff and volunteers, some of whom have gone on to start their own CSA programs elsewhere.
We now turn the mic over to Paul:
My very first season (when I was barely qualified to be a “gardener”), I attempted a tiny CSA program, growing food for 10 families, which felt like a huge leap of faith (for me and for them). It worked, I caught the bug, and we’ve been growing ever since, from that small 1/8 of an acre garden to around 3 acres and 250 CSA members around Metro Vancouver this season.
I’ve been blessed with some amazing co-farmers over the years. In addition to Jenn, I’ve worked with Andy, Lindsay, Katie and Wes. Without their support, I couldn’t have done any of this, for not only have they brought amazing skills and energy, they have also been great humans to work alongside, and have become treasured friends in the process of farming! And then there are the many volunteers and dozens of interns, now scattered around Canada and the world, but here for a time pulling weeds and bunching kale and asking great questions. Working with volunteers and interns has kept me sharp and has propelled the growth of the farm.
What’s next for me and for the CSA? I’m not going far. I’m shifting my focus to my home – Kingfisher farm, working more closely with my wife Angela to grow vegetables and flowers for our weekly Kingfisher Farm Market and roadside stand. I’ve always been passionate about nurturing healthy soil, and I’m excited about the prospect of having less land under my care so that I have time to pay greater attention to honing practices that can lead to even greater soil health!
I deeply thankful for the members of the wider A Rocha community and the trust placed in me to grow good food.
Jenn Cline hails from Vancouver Island and has a background in culinary arts, working as a chef for many years. She transitioned to farming a few years ago, still in the food game, but now literally from the ground up. It was a fitting transition for someone with a degree in International Development with a focus on food systems and community development, and we are grateful that her training was put to such good use at A Rocha.
Jenn started farming at the Brooksdale Centre in March 2019 and quickly became an invaluable member of the team. She is hard working and hospitable, making space for volunteers and interns to learn alongside her. We are very sad to see Jenn go, but wish her joy in her transition to Victoria where her partner will be starting a Masters in Chemistry at the University of Victoria.
When asked about her farming experience at Brooksdale she had this to say:
Joining the A Rocha team was like finding a new family. It’s been amazing to work alongside such loving, passionate and knowledgeable folks. And it’s been fun (and hard) at times. One of the fun bits was a morning cheer I initiated with the interns and volunteers on harvest days. It was super cheesy but they really loved it: HARVEST ON 3: 1-2-3, HARVEST! Even on a rainy day the ritual made us all smile.
I will miss daily interaction with the A Rocha Family and look forward to keeping in touch from across the Strait.
N.B. A Rocha remains committed to Sustainable Agriculture programming. The farm will continue to grow great food and will offer a CSA next year. We are currently working on recruiting a new team to lead the farm in 2021 and beyond.