VOICE 146 - Kerry McCann and
Andrew Budgell, founders
@Laughing Crows Organics Farm
"We tell a story of a small farm to inspire people to try and shop locally. Whether you are organic or not, support local agriculture, and locally sourced and grown food. That is incredibly important especially now and in the coming times.
We get to grow a whole beautiful bunch of food and the community gets to eat it and appreciate it. It feels really good to us."
Laughing Crows Organics is a certified organic vegetable and flower farm across from the Beer Farmers in Pemberton. They operate on 15 acres of leased land owned by the Miller family, producing quality fresh products for the communities in the Sea to Sky corridor. They take time, care, and love to grow vegetables. Not only that, but shopping from a local source also leaves a much smaller and healthier footprint for consumers.
Kerry grew up in Ontario. Her parents were the hippie generations from the 70s, and they went back to the land and tried to be self-sufficient. The connection to the food has always been a big part of how she grew up. She has often grown things and shopped at farmers' markets. Kerry came through Pemberton and Whistler when she decided to take some time off from her previous career as a physiotherapy assistant. Then she met Andrew, her now business partner, who was already working on organic farming. Andrew is from suburban Ottawa with no farming background. With some experience in homestead gardening, Kerry helped him with a small market garden. Soon they started to farm together based on their mutual goals and enthusiasm for certified organic farming. Since the very beginninig as farmers, they have felt the importance of telling a story of the food.
Laughing Crows' core business is a farm-to-your-doorstep weekly vegetable box delivery through the CSA program. Through that people get plugged into the story of the farm, vegetables, and people behind the food. "It is something that people appreciate. It is the thing that is missing when you buy from the grocery stores, where many things come from California or Argentina. It is without a face or name. It doesn't have a dirty hand!" said Kerry.
They also invite people to experience their farm through two agri tourism events; the Pemberton sunflower maze and the Grand majestic pumpkin patch. Both are very popular annual events. This summer, the Pemberton sunflower maze will open from August 18th to September 5th. It is a perfect opportunity to get lost in the breathtaking maze of golden yellow flowers. After you explore, you can enjoy a refreshing pint of locally crafted beer in an on-farm brewery and tasting room next door. Do not forget to buy some vegetables to bring back home from the farm stand. When you see the food grown in such a beautiful place, you can taste the beauty translating to every bite of the vegetables.
VOICE (V): Can you tell us what is Laughing Crows Organics about?
Kerry (K): "Our goal is to grow mixed vegetables on a smaller scale, and feed the community of Pemberton, Whistler, and Squamish. Our footprint is within 100 km, and all our food gets consumed within that radius. Our CSA sends out food each week to 230 households. We do a little road stand sale and a farmers market in Squamish on Saturday and Whistler on Sunday.
When we started, we were trying to find a way to create a livelihood out of work that doesn't harm the future. Farming brings you close to the land. Especially the whole organic standard is built around healthy soil, so all of our rules and guidelines are all based on soil health. It is a good standard to set yourself into. We feel grateful and lucky that we have been able to farm on the already certified organic land by the Miller family, and take part in stewarding the environment and get a livelihood out of that."
V: How did you come up with the name Laughing Crows Organics?
Andrew(A): "The first time we built our farm, it was tiny with just a quarter acre of land. Kerry has been doing homesteading gardening but we did not know anything about farming. We built our greenhouse right at the end of the road. We didn't realize at the time that we could never drive our trucks off the field if we put the greenhouse there. We ended up having very crooked roads because we had to back up our trucks all the time. Then, Kerry said it is ridiculous that even crows are laughing at us. So the first year, we called our farm Crooked Roads and Laughing Crows, then we just went with Laughing Crows."
V: How many vegetable varieties do you grow?
K: "We grow about 45 varieties of veggies and 30-40 varieties of flowers. Our farm relies a lot on brassica fields: such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, broccolini, and Brussel sprouts. We grow only a very small amount using plastic landscape fabric for some heat-loving crops like peppers, eggplants, zucchini, and melons."
V: How did the Covid pandemic affect your business?
A: " Because of Covid, people are more aware of the food supply chain, and want to spend their money locally. Our CSA membership has expanded since the Covid."
V: What is your farm life like?"
K: "During the growing season, we start our day at 5 am. It is long working hours for 8 consecutive months. We hand harvest everything, too. In wintertime, things are more relaxed. It is when we do a lot of planning for the coming season.
V: What does food mean to you?
K: "On the basic level, it means nourishment. On another level, it is a quality of life; how you are nourishing yourself with good food. Some of the best moments are getting something really fresh, cooking it, and sharing it with people. That brings happiness."