Thursday, April 26, 2012

Garbriola Farm Demonstrating Benefits of Agroforestry For Small-Lot Agriculture

A small farm in the south end of Gabriola Island will soon be home to the islands’ first agroforestry demonstration site, thanks to the inspiration and efforts of owners Jeff Rietkerk and Sonja Zupanec, and with support from the BC Agroforestry Industry Development Initiative.

Just Another Weed Patch Farm, a 22 acre privately-owned parcel of land on Gabriola Island, will be used to demonstrate the development of a diverse nut and timber tree grove grown in combination with livestock and annual vegetable and flower crops.  Jeff and Sonja will transform a 2 acre, fallow hay field, established over 50 years ago, into an organically managed nut tree grove.  The grove will be inter-planted with ‘alley crops’ of specialty foods and flowers between the young trees, and open to silvopasture for 6 to 8 months of the year utilizing laying hens and sheep.

“We’ve been dreaming for years about becoming stewards of a suitable piece of land to grow food and nut trees.  Now that we have the soil beneath our feet we can start growing our vision into a reality.” shared Jeff, co-owner of the farm and local arborist.

This Gabriola Island hayfield will be transformed into an agroforestry demonstration site.

“We share a 300 metre long property boundary with the Elder Cedar Nature Reserve so we have even more reasons to approach agriculture on this property with progressive and ecologically sound practices.”  The buffer of mature forested lands and responsible agricultural land use practices adjacent to this environmentally sensitive area are cornerstone to this agroforestry demonstration.

A project website is being updated regularly with information on their cultivar selection, methodology, integrated pest management approaches and project status.  Just Another Weed Patch Farm will also host a public open house and workshop to showcase the transformation and hopefully inspire other people to incorporate agroforestry techniques onto their farms.

“As they say, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now. You can’t ask for a more ecologically sound, long-term investment legacy, than nut and specialty timber trees to grow old with” concluded Jeff.

For more information on this project please visit:

Funding for this work has been provided through the BC Agroforestry Industry Development Initiative (AGF1204)