Curious about the layout of the land?
Click on any icon above to see which areas will be home to:
feeding the land so the land feeds us
fostering the next generation of farmers
healing land & water
creating a living laboratory
hosting public programs
Or simply read on to learn more about how we plan to do these things.
FEEDING THE LAND
ROTATIONAL GRAZING AREA
A perpetual cycle of rotational livestock grazing, cover cropping and soil building are fundamental to Sandown’s plan for feeding and healing the land. Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture (SCRA) and The Fickle Fig have collaborated to create a win-win-win arrangement for both parties and Mother Nature: happy animals, healthier soils and waters, carbon sequestering, and a prosperous farm enterprise!
Rotational grazing builds healthy soil, reduces erosion and runoff, and eliminates the need for pesticides/herbicides/and chemical fertilizers, while also saving money on livestock feed.
The soil’s fertility increases as manure and remnants from supplemental feeding add nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous, as well as trace minerals to the earth.
The animals benefit from access to clean air, feed, and environmental conditions. Additionally, parasites within a species are kept at a low point due to inter-species crossover. All this results in healthier animals, which leads to healthier grass-fed free-range eggs, pastured pork, goat, lamb, chicken, turkey, and beef.
Another winning point: livestock odours are mitigated with the progressive movement of the herd or flock.
Fickle Fig plans to utilize 2-5 beef cattle, 40 dairy sheep, 10 goats, 20 pigs, 200 chickens, and 50 turkeys in their rotational grazing plan, rotating the animals’ paddocks between two-six days at a time, allowing regrowth for optimal nutrition in the chosen forage. Tilling becomes unnecessary with the utilization of swine and cover cropping, with further forage if needed.
From spring through autumn, herds and flocks will be on the paddocks. During the extreme cold season, the animals will reside in indoor shelters with outdoor access, and the land will rest.
SHEEP BARN & DAIRY
This area that is “high and dry” through the wet winter months is perfect for overwintering livestock. The animals enjoy the comfort and dryness of a barn, with access to a smaller field for exercise, while the pasture areas get to rest through the dark rainy months when pasture grazing in the wet and mud would lead to soil and plant damage.
This will also be the Sandown “Nursery” when lambs get born in spring. At this time, you can expect to also see sleepy farmers in gumboots, pyjamas and headlamps, helping with deliveries at two o’clock in the morning.
As the spring sunshine and warmth brings new growth in the drying fields, the farmers let the animals back out onto pasture.
FICKLE FIG ROW CROPS
Fickle Fig’s main crops will be grown at Sandown, in wonderfully close proximity to their Kitchen & Bistro on Mills Road. Their farm team does an incredible job growing a diverse variety of organic vegetables for their ever-changing seasonal menu: artichokes, fava beans, heirloom tomatoes, cantaloupes, and everything in between.
Additionally, the presence of Fickle Fig has a vital secondary function: they serve as an important source of expertise and example for the “supported incubator plot” farmers and community growers coming on site.
Farming is about getting a lot done in the course of a day, so advance warning: please let the production farmers be “head-down-hunker-down” during a normal working day, and save your questions for our Farm Tours and Food Festivals, when the farmers would love to meet you!
SUPPORTED INCUBATOR PLOTS
& COMMUNITY FOOD PRODUCTION
Sandown will offer supported incubator plots to foster a new generation of farmers. These plots include shared site amenities, shared market channels, the support of a collegial peer group, and ongoing mentorship from industry professionals in the diverse skills required to thrive in today’s agricultural sector. These incubator plots are open to anyone who would like to apply. Click here for more information.
Additionally, Sandown will deepen partnerships with complementary community organizations, such as Growing Young Farmers, to increase community offerings and community benefits.
This shared space is an important amenity for getting a jump start on the season with seed starting and propagating. It will be shared by Fickle Fig and the other community growers. Clear design and good communication are key ingredients for keeping these working spaces running smoothly.
SHARED FIELD AMENITIES
Farming requires field infrastructure: covered areas for gathering, washing, drying, cutting, bunching, packing, storing; places for tools, soil amendments, machinery; pinboards for daily tasks and inspiration; books and binders for reference.
At Sandown, sharing these functional spaces will save on materials and cost, and help to build community, conversation and shared learning.
And of course, as we know from the lessons of sharing spaces, clear design and good communication are necessary to keep these working spaces running smoothly.
HEALING LAND & LIVING LAB
FOOD & MEDICINE FOREST
This beautiful forest is home to natural underground springs, giving rise to lush moisture under the forest canopy – an ideal habitat for native frogs (even in the drought of summer), a year-round pond, and stately stands of cedar, fir and hemlock.
Alas, the forest is also buried under a thick and pervasive tangle of invasive ivy, which chokes out the biodiversity of the forest, climbing and eventually toppling trees.
We have an opportunity to undo the ivy’s damage and reintroduce the food and medicinal plants which once lived here. Peninsula Streams Society plays an important role by bringing grade school classes to the forest as part of their Creatures of Habitat program – educating young folk on invasives management. We hope to do the same with families and individuals in North Saanich, inviting neighbours to “adopt a square” and steward a patch of this beautiful forest back to abundance.
More information about how you can be involved to come!
HEALING WATER & LIVING LAB
If you have gone by Sandown in winter, you’ve probably noticed the rather large “lake” that appears in the rainy season and dries through summer. Perhaps you have even thought to yourself, “That land isn’t being used for anything fruitful...how are we supposed to grow crops on that?”
This is a great start to conversations about how we manage our agricultural lands.
Not so long ago, North Saanich was predominantly wetland. Tseycum translates as, “land of clay,” and it’s true: our clay-rich subsoil holds water, making for slow drainage. So when the winter rains come, they turn this region into wet, muddy, stick-to-your-boots country.
Which, of course, is bad news when you are hoping to build houses or grow apple trees.
And so, we developed technologies for ditching and draining, drying out the land, and in the last 150 years, have drained most of North Saanich.
What we are now learning is this: wetlands are an incredibly important part of a functioning holistic ecosystem. Absolutely free of charge, they ease water shortages and drought; provide flood control, maintain natural drainage, and prevent soil erosion; filter out contaminants, using native plants that are perfect for the task; and create natural wetland habitats that support abundant fish, wildlife, and pollinators for crops.
The Sandown wetland area feeds directly into Tseycum creek, then into Patricia Bay. Every year, the Tseycum community releases salmon fry into the creek to establish a salmon habitat. But the tiny gills of the fry simply can’t survive the runoff of contaminants and silt that flows through. The same water flows into the bay’s clam beds. The beds that were once abundant have been closed for over 30 years due to contamination.
The Sandown wetland gives us an opportunity to do better.
Best practises in regenerative agriculture provide a great model for land management:
Use the high dry areas to grow crops that thrive in these conditions.
Use the low wet areas to create an abundant wetland zone.
We plan to establish wetland plants that perform multiple jobs free of charge: slowing down water; filtering out contaminants, using native plants that are perfect for the task; and creating natural wetland habitats that support an abundance of insects, including pollinators for the nearby crops
Wetlands are an incredible resource, and they serve an incredible job. Also, they are incredibly beautiful.
The Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture society will be working in close partnership with the University of Victoria’s Ecological Restoration program and with Saanich Native Plants at Haliburton Farm to plan, plant and establish a thriving wetland riparian zone. We will create opportunities for you – neighbours, community and groups – to tour the site, learn more about these practices, and perhaps be inspired to create your own riparian zones on a smaller scale, possibly in your own backyard.
We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got planned.
Let’s face it: knowing where your food comes from, who grew it, and how to grow it yourself is one of the finer things in life.
It happens naturally — you find yourself slowing down and savouring meals; getting recipes for your favourite “new” vegetable (often from the farmer who grew them!); saving seeds to grow next year.
The Sandown Centre is serious about supporting your curiosity, confidence and capability in all matters of local food.
What have we got planned?
SANDOWN SUPPER CLUBS
At Sandown Supper Clubs, we'll offer you a fabulous dining experience at the Fickle Fig (with Sandown-grown produce, naturally!) accompanied by salon-style lectures with some of the leading thinkers in regenerative agriculture.
WORKSHOPS AND CLASSES
Our workshops and classes will feed your learning in a range of topics, from active “citizen science” classes, to forest bathing walks, to pruning classes for your budding home orchard.
“GROW YOUR OWN FOOD”
"Grow Your Own Food" is a season-long course to teach you all the fundamentals in food production. Sign up as an individual or as a family, get your own plot for the year, and be guided through everything you need to grow your own abundance — from garden planning and planting, right through to seed saving. Shared amenities like automatic irrigation, field processing stations and tools makes it easy for you to show up and get growing!
Our aim is simple: we want you to fall hopelessly in love with your local food system. In our seasonal festivals, you’ll meet your makers**, one fruit at a time. Take the humble FIG for example: our climate supports 150 varieties. Don’t you want to taste them, pick your favourite varieties, meet the passionate experts who grow them, and maybe take some home?