Aurora Gardens is a small market garden nestled on Nelson’s North Shore on Upper Longbeach Rd. Consisting of less than an acre of gently sloped, south-facing land, Aurora Gardens’ four separate gardens and two small greenhouses overlook the shores of Kootenay Lake. This farm has been producing mixed vegetables, herbs and berries for the Nelson and area market for 15 years.
Who is the farmer at Aurora Gardens?
What do you grow?
We grow many different types and varieties of edibles, from salad greens early in the spring, to vegetables, berries, herbs and edible flowers in the summer, and sunchokes late in the fall. We like trying new varieties and techniques each year. We are interested to hear from our customers about their needs and appreciate suggestions.
How would you describe your farm?
We are a small market garden, under one acre, and we are certified with Kootenay Mountain Grown. Raised beds and relay planting allows us to grow a good variety of fruit, vegetables & herbs in limited space. Because of the small size of our gardens, we are able to do 95 percent of the work with hand tools. This enables us to further reduce our carbon footprint. We rely heavily on mulching and composting to build and maintain the soil. Having volunteers to help & learn beside us on the land has made the labour intensity of our gardens both possible & enjoyable. Being able to provide the local community with fresh locally grown food means a lot to us. Most food in North America is picked before its prime, travels many miles, and endures long storage. All of our produce is picked 48 hours (or less) before delivery when possible, to ensure the freshest and best quality.
How long have you been farming?
We have been running the market garden for 15 years.
What motivated you to start?
Our property was the original homestead on Longbeach Rd, and it has been our family home for 30 years. We have always had gardens. As our family grew so did our gardens, but after the kids left home our garden was providing us with more food than we could consume and/or preserve….and was taking up a great deal of time and energy! About 15 years ago we decided to market some of the extra produce, talking to friends, restaurants and the Co-op about the possibility of growing for them. It soon became evident that we could help to fill a need for locally grown produce.
What are some of your greatest joys?
To see the transformation of the tiniest of seeds growing into amazing abundance.
What are some of your greatest challenges?
Weather and pests. We contend with insects, slugs, snails, aphids, but also rodents and larger animals, such as skunks, raccoons, wild turkeys, and this year the bears have been really voracious.
What is your vision for your farm/company?
To become even more of a ‘teaching’ garden.
Why is local food and/or local purchasing important to you?
We can & do grow food here. We need to support each other in order for us to make this region a viable place to live. Fuel may not always be abundant and cheap so we may not always be able to source food from places like California & South America. Our current system of shipping food from far away is unsustainable and harmful. Did you know that food in North America travels on average from four to seven days before it reaches the retailer? Most produce is picked underripe in order to compensate for traveling time. Additionally, it may have traveled over 2,400 kilometers! The impact of food production on non-renewable fossil fuel can be immense.
If you could deliver a message directly to Co-op members/customers, what would it be?
Thank you for buying our produce for many years. It’s important to continue supporting local growing and to maintain the genetic integrity of northern-grown vegetables. One day Canadians may be forced to grow their own food again. We need to know how to feed ourselves.