Terra Firma Farms keeps growing

Terra Firma Farms in #RevelstokeBC hired seasonal staff with support from our Food Producer Wage Subsidy Program, which provides support to primary food producers in the Basin to help increase residents’ access to locally grown, healthy food.

4 minute read

Revelstoke farm benefits from subsidy program

Farming takes a lot: from planting seeds, tending crops and harvesting, to preparing produce for public sale and consumption. It requires long days and physically demanding work, but for Marie-Helene Blanchet, farming is a labour of love.

Blanchet has been working at Terra Firma Farms in mountainous Revelstoke since the spring of 2020. Owner Terra Park hired Blanchet as seasonal staff for the small-scale, certified organic farm with support from Columbia Basin Trust’s Food Producer Wage Subsidy Program, which provides support to primary food producers in the Basin to help increase residents’ access to locally grown, healthy food. Blanchet’s happy to work seasonally on the farm and plans to return.

“I want to stay at the farm for a few more years at least, because I love the work and it fits my lifestyle perfectly,” says Blanchet, who’s also a painter and graphic designer. “I’m happiest when working outside with my hands. As an enthusiastic cook, I believe in feeding myself in sustainable, local and seasonal ways. I love being part of a system that provides for the community and feel proud of the work I do.”

Farm work has provided Blanchet with a diverse set of skills and knowledge that includes crop rotation, soil fertility, and organically controlling pests and weeds. These hard skills are key for any farmer, but Blanchet also appreciates the soft skills she’s picked up.

“Working on the farm has taught me about team dynamics, like how to keep our spirits up on hard days,” she explains. “But if I had to pick a favourite job, it would be removing the weeds. It’s the most satisfying, meditative task and I never get tired of it.”

Helping out at the farm’s booth at the Revelstoke Local Food Initiative Farmers Market, which runs every Saturday from April to October, has also shown her how to market produce properly to help keep the business financially sustainable—an especially challenging endeavour at the beginning of the season when start-up costs are high and revenue is minimal.

“The financial support ensures the farm can pay staff a competitive wage, and is also an incentive for us to return, which saves a lot of time and energy in training,” Blanchet adds.

Park is also enthusiastic about the subsidy program, first hearing about it through the Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors. She started using it in 2020 to support wages for one of her three employees and, the following year, she expanded the team to six, subsidizing the wages of two staff. In the 2023 season, the program supplemented the wages of all six employees for a shorter duration, an arrangement she says is “very beneficial, particularly during the early part of the season when we require it most.”

In 2014, Park and her husband Rob, who co-owns the business, purchased several acres to start Terra Firma Farms. They’ve been slowly scaling up each year, primarily growing organic vegetables to sell at their self-serve farm stand every Wednesday from June to October, and through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. They also run a successful farm-to-table restaurant called Terra Firma’s Kitchen, which keeps them busy year-round.

“We grow a mix of 30 to 40 different crops, staggered throughout the season to make it interesting for our CSA box program, which has increased to 85 families this year,” explains Park.
The ability to retain experienced help like Blanchet and offer a sustainable livelihood not only helps bolster the farm’s productivity, but it also strengthens their connection with the community they serve. Park is grateful to the Trust for supporting the growth of the business year after year.

“This program has been invaluable,” she says. “It has not only enabled us to hire back employees over multiple seasons, but has also played a pivotal role in expanding the capacity of our farm. By alleviating some financial burden, it has empowered us to focus on growing nutritious food for our community while also helping us maintain affordable prices.”

Our Trust Magazine

Basin Stories

and more in your
inbox with Our Trust

Find a story

Search for a story using any of the fields below or select a region on the map to find stories for that region.

  • Keyword or Title

  • Area of Interest

  • Community

  • Date

Northern Region

Southeast Region

Southwest Region

Southeeast RegionSouthwest RegionNorthern Region