Bolstered by the popularity of the 100 Mile Diet program back when it was new, The Roost Farm Centre in North Saanich is hoping to keep people coming to the area to enjoy a farm experience.
This time, they have put up $10,300 of their own money, to be matched by the provincial government under their Buy Local program. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick was at The Roost March 16 for a quick look at one of the Vancouver Island farms using the program to help boost their fortunes.
Owner of the Farm Centre, Dallas Bohl, says the Buy Local program was a way for The Roost to increase its marketing budget and reach potential customers on the mainland and elsewhere. With his two daughters Mackenzie and Olivia in tow, Bohl and his business partner, farmer Hamish Crawford,toured Letnick through The Roost’s fields and mill facility.
Bohl said the program has benefitted The Roost over the past year, helping them ensure a long-term viability of the farm and cafe. Crawford added the support of agriculture by the BC Liberals has been good, especially with the Buy Local program.
“This sort of thing is good for local food supplies,” he said, adding the public seems happy with what the farm is doing.
The Roost Farm Centre is hailed as the largest integrated grain farm on the Island, complete with granary, winery and bakery.
In a statement, Letnick said Buy Local funding supports the efforts of agriculture producers, like The Roost, to continue to grow locally.
And grow they shall.
Bohl said The Roost is expanding. Work has already started on extending its frontage along East Saanich Road.
Bohl said their storage needs outgrew their current capacity, as did their wine production capability. They worked with the District of North Saanich on permits to expand the building up to the south hedge, making room for a total of 65 seats in their cafe and bakery.
The space will also be licensed, to allow them to serve their own, locally-produced wine.
Their milling equipment will soon be moved over to a new structure that was completed recently.
Bohl said they are making the changes and growing The Roost to meet the demand of their customers right now.
An earlier plan that would have seen The Roost add 10 farm stay rooms, a winery facility and more, was cancelled last year and their growth plan revised. Bohl added this work underway now will allow The Roost to grow in the future, if needed.
He said the municipality was great to work with on their site plan revisions.