After a twenty four month campaign and close to 3,000 donors, The Land Conservancy was proud to announce Madrona Farm was saved and would remain in agricultural production forever. Thanks to overwhelming public support as well as major contributions from the Farmlands Trust, Victoria Foundation and local Victoria residents Ed Johnson, Mel McDonald, and 101-year-old couple Helen and Glenn Saywer, TLC is pleased to add Madrona to its list of “special places” in B.C.
Located 10 minutes from downtown Victoria, Madrona Farm provides food to over 3,500 homes in the Greater Victoria area. The 27-acre farm produces a diversity of 105 crops, 12 months a year. As an innovative model for sustainable agriculture, David and Nathalie Chambers, the current farmers on the property, will hold the first long-term lease to continue farming while providing education and training for apprentices.
David Chambers’ grandparents, Lawrence and Ruth, and their three sons bought Madrona Farm in 1952. For thirty years, Lawrence raised animals and produced vegetables and hay. After Lawrence’s death in 1982, the farm was leased out for hay production. When David moved to the farm in 1999 to take care of his grandmother, he decided to dedicate himself to restoring his family’s farmland.
Sage, the Chambers’ son, is the authority for their 80 egg-laying chickens, whose feeding area and mobile house is shifted around the farm every three weeks. The mobile coop was built with a rain barrel to capture rainwater for the thirsty chickens. The chicken manure is one component of the special mixture of organic fertilizer that is used to produce an astonishing variety of delicious fruits and vegetables for the local community.
Farming on Madrona is guided by the memory of Lawrence and Ruth, a noted naturalist who passed away in 2002, and by a commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability. Nathalie Chambers, David’s wife, explains that “the farm operates as close as possible to a natural ecosystem” and that everything on the farm respects the memory of Ruth and Lawrence and the values that guided their agricultural practice.
In addition to the agricultural values of the site, Madrona Farm is also an important ecological area. The wildlife ponds provide excellent habitat for a wide variety of bird species. In 2004, they began planting a wooded corridor of Douglas fir, Garry oak, arbutus, red alder and several other native tree species. Over 130 fruit trees have been planted to stabilize the farm’s expansive, southwest facing slope. Madrona Farm is the happy home of many species of birds, including great horned and screech owls, eagles, and herons. Nathalie and David have also created a wildlife corridor from their farm to Mount Douglas Park.