Laughter and song echo in the evenings, intertwined with the rushing waters of Falls Creek pouring through the deep gully on the western side of the pristine 23 acres of forest that is home to Chuckleberry Community Farm. Every day, the Selkirk mountains of the West Kootenays offer a breathtaking, ever-changing Awesome View. You will find us taking in the view from the earthship rooftop deck, waking from a night under the stars. You will find us doing morning practices in the orchard, or crawling around the berry terraces to get today’s pick. Most of the time, you will find us buzzing around like bees in a beehive, creating and collaborating to steward this land and feed the surrounding communities.
The Community Center is the central hub of the farm. Every morning, we gather in the communal kitchen to check-in before spreading out to attend to what’s on our workbenches. In 2010, the Community Center was built into the earth. It is surrounded by soil in three cardinal directions, with the southern face being predominantly glass. Interior arched doorways give the Earthship a hobbit-like look. It is built with steel post-and-beam construction that is bolted to the concrete foundation and hurricane-tied to the roof rafters – it is capable of withstanding earthquakes and tornadoes. It has a cobb-looking cement finish inside and out, making it extremely fire-proof. The roof trusses are 24” deep with a very high insulation rating (R-90), which allows for the building to be predominantly heated and powered by the sun. The 40 solar panels on the roof provide power and shade for chickens scratching and rolling around in the understory of the forest behind the greenhouse. The roof water catchment system feeds an underground reservoir that is used to water the gardens from a solar pump and connects to the rooftop solar hot water shower.
See it – a bustling communal kitchen with a wall-full of jars of spices and organic ingredients, granite countertops, south-facing windows filled with plants. In the living room across, the woodstove is hugged by two couches often visited by Beings in deep connection. The community board on the wall shows beautiful designs of the events in progress and events to come. Through the hallway, enter the large practice room with its velvety carpet, a place for yoga, meditation, breathwork, ragework, dancing and workshops. On the opposite side of the building, enter the Growroom.
We grow microgreens in the Gowroom part of the Earthship. The microgreen production is a great orchestra conducted with delicate care and precision. Every week, our team takes hundreds of pounds of sunflowers, peas and daikons through cycles of seeding, unstacking, watering, harvesting and packaging. Growing indoors in a secure, gracefully controlled environment allows us to provide a year-round steady supply of microgreens to our customers in the Kootenay and Okanagan valleys.
- contain up to 1000% more nutrition and enzymes than any other raw vegetable;
- allow your body to more easily assimilate important phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals;
- contain more vitamin A and beta-carotene than carrots;
- have three times more vitamin C than oranges;
- have high levels of antioxidants that promote heart health, slow aging, increased vitality, cellular recovery and radiance.
The roof of the Earthship and the extensive south-sloping gardens feature beautifully crafted, 30-inch-high insulated raised beds that preserve our knees and backs and allow us to grow an abundance of vegetables in hoop houses right through the winter. We build soil for the gardens through passive cold composting, mulching, collecting coffee grounds from local coffee shops and by bringing in manure from the network of farmers that support us. Chuckleberry is a no-till farm that operated on human and soil power.
The farm is in the middle of the mountains, where pines, firs and cedars grow. There is no natural topsoil, so we built gardens on rock using composting straw bales with added compost and manure. In our fields of straw bales, we grow thousands of zucchinis, spaghetti squash, butternuts, patty pans, red curry squash and acorns.
Our gardens are served by a drip irrigation system that resources catchment water from our green roof and solar panel hillside using a solar-powered pump and computer-controlled zone valves to supply our gardens and berry terraces with life-giving water during the intensely sunny summer season.