Tim Mocks, owner of Glenora’s Windhorse Farm, is a member of Regeneration Canada, a group of Canadian farmers who believe the nation’s soil is under threat from inorganic and chemical processes. (Submitted photo)

Tim Mocks, owner of Glenora’s Windhorse Farm, is a member of Regeneration Canada, a group of Canadian farmers who believe the nation’s soil is under threat from inorganic and chemical processes. (Submitted photo)

Vancouver Island farmer giving back to the land, not just taking from it

Regeneration Canada launches initiative to ensure health and sustainability of our food supply

When Tim Mock was growing up in farm country in rural Ontario, he loved the farming lifestyle and working with nature to produce the best crops and livestock possible.

But when he left for B.C. as a young man to study environmental sciences at the University of Victoria and returned to his home years later, he was dismayed to see that many of the farms had turned to industrial and chemical practices to maximize their output.

“It was sad to see the polluted waters in the agricultural run-off, and other results from this way of farming,” said Mock, who now owns Glenora’s Windhorse Farm.

“I was not pleased with these new farming practices.”

RELATED STORY: THE FACE OF FARMING IS CHANGING IN THE COWICHAN VALLEY

After more than two decades working in the technology sector, Mock and his family bought the 15-acre Windhorse Farm in 2007 and began raising cattle.

He said he decided to run the operation as organically as possible and began moving the cattle to different parts of the farm to graze every day to reduce the pressure on the fields, composting up to 100 tonnes of manure every year that was used on the fields for organic fertilizer, and using other natural strategies.

Mock said he decided to retire from raising cattle and sold the last of his herd in 2018, and switched to grass farming and selling hay to other farms.

He said he is also using the most organic and natural practices raising hay in order to build a good soil base for his crops.

“I never use inorganic fertilizer on my fields,” Mock said.

“If they need a boost, I spray the fields with a fish-based or feather meal organic fertilizer which supports plants and soil organisms that can draw nitrogen out of the air down to the roots of the plants, which is very beneficial to them. It doesn’t work as well right away as chemical fertilizers, but over time, the constant use of inorganic fertilizer kills the biology of the soil, and also finds its way into air and water.”

RELATED STORY: AT 700, FARMS BIG BUSINESS IN COWICHAN

Mock said the use of inorganic fertilizers probably sees short-term profits for the farmers that use them, but they are sacrificing their soil base in the long-term, and the food they grow will not be as rich in nutrients as those from organic farmers.

He said he has joined with a group of other similarly minded Canadian farmers who believe the nation’s soil is under threat from inorganic and chemical processes, called Regeneration Canada.

With planting season on the way, members of the non-profit Montreal-based group have launched a national initiative to tell Canadians that when it comes to ensuring the health and sustainability of the country’s food supply, there’s a better way in regenerative farming.

A holistic approach rooted in Indigenous knowledge and backed by science, regenerative farming is focused on reviving soil; what the farmers call the country’s “foundation of life” which studies show is degrading, due in good part to industrial agriculture.

“This reality is something all Canadians should be concerned about, as soil is integral to our ecosystem and the source of most of our food,” said Gabrielle Bastien, founder of Regeneration Canada.

She explained that degraded soils hold fewer nutrients, lose their ability to absorb water and grow plants, and lose their carbon content, which is emitted into the atmosphere as CO2, worsening climate change.

RELATED STORY: COBBLE HILL EGG FARMERS CRACK PROVINCIAL FARMING FRAME

To support the growth and raise awareness of this farming trend, Regeneration Canada has unveiled a first-of-its-kind interactive map of regenerative farms across the country.

Accessed free of charge, the map showcases farmers practicing regenerative agriculture in Canada and how the public can buy their products.

The initiative also serves as a platform for peer-to-peer learning between farmers.

Regeneration Canada invites the public to learn more about soil regeneration by joining its upcoming Living Soils Symposium, which takes place virtually from Feb. 22 -26.

More information can be found at https://regenerationcanada.org/.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Farming

Just Posted

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m.
Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

City workers from Duncan were busy recently putting up street signs in both Hul’q’umi’num’ and English. (Submitted photo)
Hul’q’umi’num street signs installed in downtown Duncan

Partnership with Cowichan Tribes sees English street names twinned with Indigenous language

A Sooke man died Tuesday afternoon after his car left the roadway in 7500-block of West Coast Road around 1:30 p.m. and hit a tree. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke man dies in Tuesday crash on West Coast Road

The man’s SUV left the roadway and struck a tree

Homicide investigators who asked not to be identified put up signs Wednesday, April 14, along the Nanaimo Parkway in the area where a body was found March 31. RCMP are asking for witnesses or dash cam footage as the suspicious death has now been ruled a homicide. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Suspicious death along Nanaimo Parkway now being investigated as a homicide

RCMP identify victim as Randell Charles Thomas, repeat call for any information related to the case

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo hospital experiencing another COVID-19 outbreak

Three patients tested positive for the virus in NRGH’s high-intensity rehab unit

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

Fish processing workers fillet farm-raised salmon in Surrey B.C. Photo courtesy BCSFA
Discovery Islands salmon farm removal impacts jobs in B.C.’s Lower Mainland: report

The City of Surrey is the hub of the salmon farming industry in Metro Vancouver

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Most Read