Chris Billion from One Love Farm is not new to farming, a fact that is made obvious by the quality of the food he grows. However, since he is new to Lillooet, introductions are in order!
In this short interview, Billion introduces us to his family and his farm, and tells us of the family’s move to Lillooet.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
A: Our immediate family consists of Arlo, our almost three-year old son. He’s a busy little boy who loves talking and tractors. Becky is my wife. She is a passionate artist, hard-working teacher and flower farmer. I’m Chris, the farmer.
Becky, Arlo and I love food and living close to nature. Our passions encompass the growing, preparing, and enjoying of the fresh and tasty gifts that emerge from the earth. We honour the delicate balance of forces which come together to create this bounty. We are thrilled not only to be living this dream ourselves, but to have the opportunity to share our offerings with our Community and beyond.
Q: When and why did you move your farm to Lillooet?
A: We bought our farm way back in the summer of 2016. Lots has happened since then… I can’t believe it has only been a year. We had been looking for the perfect plot of land for many years… a place that would fill our need for natural surroundings, coupled with the resources to grow beautiful food. After a few decades of leasing or caretaking various properties, we had a pretty long list of criteria to fulfill our idea of “perfect”. With Lillooet always on the radar, our search took us all over the province. We looked at many beautiful farms but none were quite “perfect” for one reason or other. No water, no sun, no road… When we finally found this place, we knew it was the “one”. It was a blank canvas on which to paint our beautiful, bountiful future.
We knew that Lillooet was a naturally beautiful place, but the community is exceeding any expectations we may have had. We feel pretty lucky to have landed in such a land of supportive neighbours and organic farmers. I would have had a tough time making it through the year without their help.
Q: Can you tell us about your farming practices?
A: I farm vegetables and will be adding fruit trees and perennials over the next few years. I like to farm in balance with nature. It is against my beliefs to use synthetic chemicals to grow things. Compost, cover crops, and mulching are more my style.
I use a small tractor, a walk-behind tractor, and an assortment of hand tools. Love is my biggest input.
Q: What do you grow and how can people buy your produce?
A: I try to grow pretty much anything our climate will allow. I’m so excited to be able to grow the heat-loving crops that Lillooet is becoming famous for. I have been supplying two weekly farmers markets in Vancouver since June with a wide assortment of vegetables. So many kinds of peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, greens, peas beans, etc, etc… At the moment, I have many varieties of squash, shallots and storage onions.
My Farmers markets are on Thursdays at Queen Elizabeth Theatre downtown Vancouver 11am-3pm and Saturdays at Riley Park Vancouver from 10am-2pm. I’ve been selling to a few Lillooet residents, as well as to the Kitchen at Fort Berens and Abundance Bakery.
Now that I’ve had a year of growing on this land, and have established a reliable market, I can focus next year on providing a reliable flow of vegetables to the members of my community. I’m not sure if this will be through the Lillooet Farmers Market or through pre-orders. It would be great to have some input from the those interested in receiving my produce.
At the moment, I’d love to make available my onions, shallots and squash. I’m taking orders now.