For the love of food and family: Terra Nossa Farm
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They say a good man is hard to find, but good food, that’s easy, especially here on Vancouver Island. Here I chatted with Evelyn Pereira, one of the owners of Terra Nossa Farm, a 26-acre farm in the heart of the Cowichan Valley.
Terra Nossa Farm is local family-run farm situated in Mill Bay, BC, Canada. How long have you been operating?
We moved from Prince George in 2007 and spent a year cleaning up the property. We started producing meat in 2009.
And it’s a family farm, so tell us who’ve you’ve got working with the animals and the land?
For the first three years our son and daughter-in-law worked with us developing the farm, my mother lives with us and helps out a lot and every weekend we have our grandson with us at the farm — he’s 4 years old ( a farmer in training).
Describe a typical day at the farm.
Seasonally they vary, with the summer being the longest. Right now in July the day starts at 5:30 – 6:00 am and ends when it is too dark to do anything more.
It starts with the morning round of checking all the livestock, putting out feed, moving pens, checking and filling all the waters etc. This happens at mid-day and the evening as well.
It also depends on what needs doing with the berries or produce, setting out irrigation , weeding (it never ends) and of course, harvesting. It takes three days a week to keep up with all the mowing and weed whacking on the property. Depending on the time of the rotation, barns need to be cleaned out and sheep pastures need to be rotated by moving the electric fencing.
Planning for a market day, means getting the freezers and truck loaded.
What do you produce and do you process the meat yourself, ie turn it into sausages, pepperoni etc?
We produce broilers (meat chickens) turkeys, pork, and lamb . The government regulations do not allow for the farmer to process the meat if they want to sell it to the public. All of our livestock is processed at government inspected facilities and the same facility makes our sausages and all our value added meat cuts.
Is all your produce organic?
Our farm is certified organic with IOPA, (Island Organic Producers Association). All of the produce and berries that are produced are then certified organic.
With the livestock that is born on the farm or the chickens and turkeys, they are certified until they leave the farm—we cannot claim them to be certified organic when we sell them because there is not a certified organic processor on Vancouver Island.
Where can we get our hands on it?
We have a store on the farm and we are at the Moss Street Farmers Market in Victoria every Sat from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. We are also at the Oak Bay evening market on the 3rd Wednesday of the month from 4-8pm.
I see you grow all sorts of delicious berries, including goji berries and blackberries— my fave. Do you turn any of these into pies, jam or other fruity goodness?
It’s just the start of the blackberry season and we’re expecting about 15,000-20,000 lbs this year. We’ll be hosting U-Pick, as they are wonderful large berries on THORNLESS vines. I just don’t have the time to turn them into fruity goodness and would like customers to do that themselves. We do offer fresh or frozen berries for sale.
What’s your favourite part of farm life?
When our four-year-old grandson says “Papa, you are a good farmer, I want to be just like you”
Okay, it’s steak night, how do you prepare your meat?
Well, as we do not raise beef, it is not usually steak. We BBQ a lot of chicken and we make a marinade with red wine, red pepper paste, garlic and sea salt.
And finally, do you buy new or used and what is your best ever used find?
It depends on what we’re needing. The best used find was the mobile home we bought to put on the farm, the property had no house on it when we bought it. We purchased the mobile home from a farmer up the road and this farmer has become one of our best friends.