Three 300-pound sows and an even larger boar snooze under overcast skies, bellies full as children examine the massive animals.
The pigs are next to a small shelter surrounded on all sides by acres of farmland, much of it planted to strawberries, onions, cabbage, blueberries and all kinds of vegetables.
This is The Local Harvest, a 38-acre farm in Chilliwack where local and fresh and sustainable is the focus.
“I want to start a food revolution here in Chilliwack,” says Dan Oostenbrink who, along with his wife Helen and children, opened The Local Harvest back in 2014.
“I want to start asking some questions. The first question is, where is our food coming from currently? And what impact is that having on our environment? If you start asking those questions, I think you will come up with some pretty simple solutions: more food grown in the valley. This is probably one of the most fertile valleys on Earth.”
Produce sold at the market is mostly grown on the farm and is all definitely local. Fruit and vegetables are for sale the same day they were picked, and The Market Bakery bread is prepared daily using Anita’s Organic Mill flours baked in the market’s wood-fired oven.
During a recent farm day, kids and parents got a ride out to the field by Oostenbrink on the farm’s “barrel train” to visit the four pigs and pick some strawberries. These are working and breeding pigs and are part of Oostenbrink’s philosophy of how a farm could and should be, as an internal food system.
The animals work digging up and eating weeds in overgrown fields. They are fed food waste from the farm, and their offspring will be processed and sold at the market as a variety of pork products.
Getting kids out to see the farm is also important to the Oostenbrinks, which is why they host events such as this one but they also offer guided tours and school visits.
“If we are going to change the way we think about food in this city and this country, it needs to start with the young people,” Oostenbrink says.
Currently The Local Harvest is in the heart of spring growing season with lots of fresh produce being picked daily.
To find out more visit thelocalharvest.ca.