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Saanich farmer encourages area residents to get closer to their food

Peas n’ Carrots on Prospect Lake Road offers farm fresh vegetables and eggs
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes (left) and Katie Underwood enjoy a sunny September day at Peas n’ Carrots, a Saanich farm. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)

Young future agrarians are cropping up all over Greater Victoria and the South Island with the importance of growing your own food and getting your hands dirty in many locals’ minds during the pandemic.

Katie Underwood is the young owner of Peas n’ Carrots, a farm on Prospect Lake Road in Saanich that grows a variety of staple vegetables and raises chickens for eggs.

The owners of the leased piece of land found Underwood through a program called Young Agrarians B.C., a land matching program that brought her to the spacious two-acre plot.

She began growing food at Elemental Farm, a leaseholder at Haliburton Community Organic Farm on Haliburton Road.

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Over the years, Underwood has gained several mentors through her work as a grower, harvester, and all-around holistic farmer.

She encourages anyone interested to volunteer their time or find work on a small-scale farm since there are many teachers, mentors, and farmers on the Island who are knowledgeable and willing to teach. Discussing things like soil science and pest management, and collaborating with other farmers is all part of the job, she said.

Underwood has a wide range of random skills – she’s not only a farmer but a vet, a plumber, a pest and disease manager, and more. The variety excites her because she is constantly challenged, she said.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said that during the pandemic, many Saanich residents have found a new use for their garden by planting their own food.

“This provided us with a heightened appreciation of how we can cultivate our own bountiful crops,” said Haynes, who receives a weekly subscription box from Peas n’ Carrots. It contains a mix of vegetables that changes with the season.

As with many small businesses, Underwood said it’s been really difficult to stay afloat this past year.

“Since so many businesses have been shut down and reopened so much, restaurants who used to order from us, for example, are now skeptical since there could be more barriers,” said Underwood.

Shopping local when possible is something that both she and Haynes encourage as the world returns to a sense of normalcy.

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