Heather Stretch and her son Levi Leatherman

Food gurus dish the dirt on dirt (and other farming tips)

Saanich Organics farming trio produce book called All the Dirt, on organic farming

Heather Stretch’s latest adventure is a pure blend of her master’s degree in English literature, post-secondaary years spent as a cook and the last dozen years as an organic farmer.

The Central Saanich mother of three is one-third of Saanich Organics along with her friends, business partners, fellow farmers and now co-authors, Rachel Fisher and Robin Tunnicliffe.

“A lot of people visit our farms. We do farm tours,” Stretch said. “We’ve often thought it would take a book to answer all the questions people ask.”

So they wrote All the Dirt, reflections on organic farming.

Kismet brought Stretch to her seven-acre certified organic farm in the Mount Newton Valley. She was working as a cook and was at the point in her life where she had a list of ideals in a job when her aunt and uncle called. “Want to be a farmer?” they asked.

“They wanted somebody using the land more productively than it had been used,” she said. With physical and mental stimulation with outdoor work high on her wish list, Stretch chose to farm. With an already green bend to her psyche, she went straight for organics.

“I’ve never grown anything conventionally,” she said.

Not long after, she, Fisher and Tunnicliffe purchased Saanich Organics.

“At the time we bought it, it was just a box program,” she said. Since then the trio has added restaurants to their clientele and increased the box program.

It was Fisher and Tunnicliffe who instigated the book, calling Stretch up one day while she was away on vacation. “We’re going to write a book,” they told her. The game plan was to write from November until the spring planting each year, which is why All the Dirt took six years to create.

“It’s not only people who are considering small scale organic farming who are buying it,” Stretch said. Backyard growers and those interested in food sustainability are purchasing the tome.

“We see big problems with the food system as it exists right now,” she said. It covers the business – what, when, where and how – and personal experiences such as how kids will change the whole game plan, are told in each of the women’s voices.

“I certainly understand how challenging it is to do [small-scale organic farming] and make a living at it,” Stretch said. “But my job satisfaction and reasons for doing it deepen each year.”

The satisfaction and reasoning come through with vivid photos and the occasional giggle in the 228-page book.

Learn more about the box program and the book online at saanichorganics.com.

Just Posted

Latke Mania returns to Jewish Community Centre of Victoria

Traditional latkes available at local deli until Dec. 20

New survey finds 4.7 million women over 15 were victims of sexual assault in Canada

Some 1.2 million men (eight per cent) report having been sexually assaulted since age 15

Greater Victoria residents recognized for International Volunteer Day

Thousands of people volunteer throughout the community every year

UVic researchers develop industry-changing ‘hyper-glue’

‘Cross-linking’ technology already playing a role in performance body armour

$1,500 bursary created in memory of late Duncan musician returns for second year

Young Vancouver Island musicians in financial need can apply by Dec. 15

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Oscar Hickes: Longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island cancelled

Patrick Murray, one of the organizers for the tournament, broke the sad news on social media.

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

Trustees ask for more help after tearful meeting on B.C. school’s ‘toxic’ stench

Enforcement has ‘no teeth,’ school trustee says, while kids become sick

One of B.C’s last surviving strip clubs baring all again for Christmas charity

25th annual event is Sunday and raises money for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society.

Most Read