Sue Haley was a sheep farmer in Kelowna for about thirty years.
Her brother, Mark, still lives on the property, called Ceres Circle Farm.
But now that Sue has retired, she’s decided to donate the land to an agricultural trust, to be managed as a food co-operative.
“The idea of taking it out of the real estate market and held in trust is a different idea of ownership, responsibility and relationship to the land,” Sue’s brother, Mark, said.
Cecilia Hogan had only been in Kelowna for a few months and was working on the farm next door when she heard about the agricultural opportunity.
“I just thought wow, that sounds like exactly the opportunity that myself and Kevin would love to have,” Hogan said.
She contacted her partner Kevin Morin, who still lives in Ottawa, and holds a master’s degree in Agro Ecology.
The pair applied to lease the land from the soon-to-be formed trust, with the understanding that their business would be overseen by a local co-op board.
While it might seem strange to some that a farmer would simply donate a valuable piece of property to complete strangers, Morin believes it’s something that’s going to start happening more and more.
“Where people are so passionate about the soils they’ve built over their whole lives, they don’t just want to sell it,” Morin said. “They’d rather see that farm keep on living as a farm.”
The property is well set up for raising sheep, complete with paddocks, hay storage, and even an on site abattoir. The only thing that’s missing is sheep.
“We’re going to start with 20 pregnant ewes, and we found a flock that we really like in Red Deer,” Hogan said. “We are crowdfunding to get those sheep transported to the farm.”
In the future, more farming proposals are expected to be considered for the property, with more opportunities for the community to become involved.
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