Farm to expand with direct-to-consumer sales

On the Farm: Clay and Katy Peck use permaculture and regenerative practices on their small northern B.C. farm

CHARLIE LAKE, B.C. — Clay and Katy Peck will soon increase production on their small farm in northern British Columbia, providing nearby consumers with local meat and produce.

The young couple moved to their farm, Canadian Acres, in Charlie Lake about six years ago, starting with 160 acres, 80 of which are for hay.

They raise horses for riding, produce free-range eggs and sell canned goods sourced from wild and cultivated plants.

By next spring, however, they plan to expand with a market garden and raise pigs. One day, they will also begin raising cattle on their grazing lease as soon as the fences are fixed.

“The model we are going with is direct to consumer, especially with meat and vegetables,” said Clay.

Clay’s family gifted the quarter section to the couple as a wedding present when they got married. They started from scratch, building a home, constructing a gravel road and bringing in 15 power poles.

They wanted to make a go of it because they felt the land offered opportunity, Katy said.

“The opportunity came up to change everything we were doing, so we took it and ran with it,” she said. “We saw it as a cool opportunity to raise kids.”

The couple met while vacationing in Hawaii, later living in Anchorage, Alaska, before moving to the farm. They have two children, Bowman and Hawke.

Katy has always been interested in permaculture and has been implementing regenerative agricultural practices on the farm. She studied permaculture design in Oregon.

“It’s this idea that you can work with nature instead of against it,” she said. “It’s about looking at the systems in nature that work, and then mimicking that in producing food or fibre for our needs.”

Clay said he was always on board with implementing permaculture on the farm, given his background in environmental science and agrology.

“I basically look at the soil for a living, so it’s really important for us to be more connected to the land and have a sustainable agriculture model,” he said. “I’m not saying large scale is bad. We are trying to do it in a different way.”

Clay Peck cares for his horses. | Jeremy Simes photo

They wanted to go the direct-to-consumer route because it connects people to farmers, helping them understand how food is grown.

“The big piece for me is being able to tell our story,” Katy said. “When people have a connection with their food, they are more willing to support you in whatever you do.”

It also teaches people about food security, Clay added.

“They learn that not everything is available every day of the year,” he said. “In the north, if a big snow event occurs, we might not have food, and I think that’s important for people to understand.”

Their goal is to make the farm profitable over time.

Clay said his family has owned land for about 50 years, but agriculture has never been their main source of income. He wants to change that.

“We have this potential,” he said. “We are 15 minutes out of town (Fort St. John), and have this beautiful land. Why not make it work for us?”

Katy said she’s committed to making permaculture work. She doesn’t plan to till the organic market garden, which has raised a few eyebrows.

“People think that is impossible,” she said. “But permaculture is blowing people’s minds once they see how it works.”

Their market garden will also allow the canning business to expand.

They sell jellies, jams, sauces, pickled good and body-care products at the market and at three local retailers, proving it has been a worthwhile venture, Katy said.

“The demand has been so high,” she said. “It started as a hobby, but we’ve really seen it expand.”

Katy also offers permaculture classes on the farm, teaching people methods they can adopt to build soil and help with plant resilience.

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