Quietly residing in the next valley over from the tourism-driven Whistler valley that brought them here for skiing, two brothers originally hailing from Montreal have now begun focusing on something entirely different.
On the Glacier Valley Farm, at mile 16.5 in the unspoiled upper Squamish Valley, Stefan Butler convinced his brother Nic to join an experiment last summer which they would describe as organized chaos: diving head first into the agricultural industry. Overnight the brothers became farmers. Stefan and Nic’s backgrounds as a carpenter and a ski/rafting guide, respectively, offered little help as they began their new escapade.
The farm was started originally as a means of growing their own produce, but it became immediately clear that there was a huge pent up demand for organically grown local produce in the Squamish area. Being the first and only organic farmers at the Squamish farmers’ market, they soon began to realize how big the demand was and started taking on clients, offering a weekly box service of seasonal veggies to several households in the Squamish and Brackendale area. As the summer progressed a handful of coffee and sandwich shops also began using their lettuces and cucumbers in their daily culinary creations.
Working with 1.5 acres last summer, the brothers hope to double their acreage this year and increase their bounty of products, offering several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, carrots, potatoes, beets, radishes, zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, beans, onions, herbs and even farm fresh eggs.
As this year’s abundant snowfall is finally in the last stage of disappearing from the valley floor the brothers are busy propagating many of their crops, turning compost piles, setting up their new 2,100 square foot greenhouse, preparing additional acreage, harvesting eggs and booking in this summer’s veggie box clients.
Demand for locally grown foods in the Sea to Sky corridor has never been higher. While Pemberton has its offering of farms it seems that Stefan and Nic have found their niche down in Squamish and are filling a void in one of the fasting growing communities in B.C.
It is said that in North America the average meal travels over 3,000 km from farm to dinner table, and that transporting one shipment of food in an 18-wheeler will produce five tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions — which is equivalent to the total annual emissions produced by your average Canadian citizen.
Then there’s explosive growth in the price of food staples like wheat, corn and rice in the last year and a half that has led to severe food shortages and violence in some parts of the world. The International Monetary Fund announced last weekend that the global food crisis has surpassed the global economy as the top priority.