A Comox Valley Farmers’ Market profile
Jo Smith, with either daughter Doreen or Helen, is the public face of Glen Alwin Farm at the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market. But Jo is quick to point out that it’s her daughter Helen Nixon who really runs the farm.
Originally settled by Helen’s great-great grandparents in 1884, Glen Alwin has established a reputation for quality beef, lamb, and mutton. They are also selling value-added products like jerky and pepperoni, produced in their Grantham neighbourhood by Gunter Brothers’ Meats. As well, Glen Awin’s registered Dorsets and Border Cheviots provide a range of wool products.
Jo believes that Glen Alwin meat products are popular because people know where the meat comes from – and how it’s been raised. “The lambs and calves are born on the farm,” she says. They’re pasture raised, “and there are no hormones or chemicals.” When it’s time for slaughter, it’s done next door at Gunter Bros.
The impact of the 2015 drought
While many of us basked in the sun, last year’s drought took its toll on local farms. Including Glen Alwin. The farm generally maintains 40 adult head of cattle, up to 40 yearlings, and 100 ewes, with about 180 lambs. The drought meant they couldn’t grow enough fodder, and that meant selling livestock. Their current herd level stands at 20 cows with calves and some yearlings, and 75 ewes. Jo says it’ll take some time to recover from the drought of 2015.
Jo is not be as active as she once was on the farm, but she is an avid marketer. Selling at the market means Jo and her daughters get to know their customers, and do word-of-mouth advertising. This helps Glen Alwin develop private sales, with customers as far as away as River’s Inlet.
Jo is also active on Facebook. She’s a farmer with following as she connects the Comox Valley’s local food producers with those who value the health and flavour that come from eating locally.
Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
The Comox Valley Farmers’ Market is in the business of growing farmers and food entrepreneurs. Sometimes this is a daunting task. For example, in the past 10-20 years the Island has lost important infrastructure for meat producers. That means direct sales at the Market have become a critical part of Glen Alwin Farm’s business. In 2015 it accounted for about 80% of sales.
Watch more Comox Valley Farmers’ Market video profiles online at Harvest Comox Valley.
FMI about the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market see:
The #WeAreYQQ Project
My conversation with Jo Smith is part of a series of interviews and updates with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market producers and staff, sponsored by hanspetermeyer.ca and part of the #WeAreYQQ Project, The #WeAreYQQ Project is all about inspiring and supporting Comox Valley (YQQ) entrepreneurs and creatives, including food entrepreneurs like Jo Smith and her family. We believe that they are the future of our economy.
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