On the east coast of Vancouver Island nestled near Baynes Sound, in the embrace of the Beaufort Mountains, in super-natural British Columbia, Canada, Croft Farm lives. Our home is a one-acre demonstration of diversified and integrated home-scale agriculture inspired with the ethics and principles of natural farming and permaculture. With permaculture we probe the mind of nature; knowing this is not ultimately possible, with natural farming we conform in the spirit of nature.* We call this nature farming, in deference to nature as the actual farmer. Not only a sustainable model of home-scale agro-ecology, Croft Farm lives to embody regenerative household farming.
The name, Croft Farm, honours the crofters of the highlands and islands of Scotland who lost their subsistence farms to landlords in the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of their descendants settled here in the Comox Valley.
This valley is blessed with a bountiful food heritage. The First Peoples named it ‘K’omoks’, meaning “Land of Plenty”. Bounty surrounds in the land and the sea. Our little acre emulates this natural plenitude, endeavouring to do so peaceably.
While many notions of a farm evoke large acreages with a commercial aim, the definition of a farm is merely “a place where crops and/or animals are raised for agricultural purposes”. Some definitions specify that the ‘agricultural purposes’ be ‘commercial purposes’. Hence, a farm not intended for commercial purposes has been dubbed a ‘hobby farm’. For us, the ‘agricultural purpose’ of our farm is the formerly common notion of feeding ourselves. This is not hobby farming; this is habit farming. What we farm may or may not profit us monetarily.
We farm to profit life.
OUR FARM HOME IS A WAY OF LIFE…
Life, and caring for life, is not a hobby. Daily life on Croft Farm, whatever else it may be, is given to tending plants and animals to nourish ourselves and others. Not bad habits, to farm. There was a time when many did this, at home.
We are not self-sufficient and never would be. We are inter-dependent with culture and in nature. We aspire to be self-efficient. We use technologies, old and new, applied consciously, to create a home that yields our food and our fun, to share a lifestyle and a legacy. Being of nature, and observing its ways, is a sufficient life. Nature is self-sufficient.
The most consequential life we seek to grow on Croft Farm is people and soil.
The farm sustains and restores as nature does. In nature, host and guest dwell reciprocally. Croft Farm’s soil is nurtured with the growth and decay of plants, animal manure, wood ash, the gifts of weather, and a farmer’s shadow. Cultivation is with low tech tools, aided by the birds and bees and bugs, and with self-sown and select seeds. Care is given by hand and learned by heart. We re-discover humanity in the care of animals. In these ways are we cultured and nurtured. We are domesticated by farming.
Croft Farm is a look back and forward to a time when our homes afford both shelter and sustenance. One acre may seem like a very tiny place to farm - ours is a micro-farm in current jargon. How we farm and what we farm encourages such a smallholding to return so much. Growing crops beneficially and raising animals ecologically - these fulfil the fertility of the earth and complement creation.
*In an interview, Masanobu Fukuoka once said, “Ideas and patterns by that fellow, Bill Mollison of Permaculture Design, if he practiced Natural Farming, waste no time, arrive at same thing.” Nonetheless, Fukuoka has also thanked Mollison for "creating this network of bright, energetic people working to help save the planet." "Now," he said, "for the first time in my life I have hope for the future." Mollison himself said that Fukuoka’s ‘One Straw Revolution’ had best stated the philosophy of permaculture.