OUR STORY

The history and Significance of Linnaea Farm Land

By Victoria Smith

In 1887, the first European settler on Cortes, Michael Manson, pre-empted 160 acres on Gunflint Lake. He obtained full title in 1913. His daughter Flo McKay inherited the land in 1928 and purchased an additional 120 adjacent acres. The property was called Lakeview Ranch. Flo's daughter, Hazel Hansen, received the place in 1950. Ken and Hazel Hansen then purchased 40 more acres, making Lakeview Ranch the largest piece of agricultural land on Cortes Island. 

Activities at Lakeview Ranch reflected similar endeavours on other homesteads, such as large gardens; varied livestock and poultry; hayfields and orchards. Logging was carried out in the forested area. Ken and Hazel Hansen operated a raw milk dairy and guest ranch while they lived here. 

The Hansen's sold the property to Robert Cabot in 1978, keeping 16 acres for their new home. Robert Cabot transferred the title to "Trust for Public Land," a charitable land trusting organization based in the US. "Trust for Public Land" in turn transferred the title, with certain restrictions, to Turtle Island Earth Stewards, a BC society to manage as a no-sale land trust. The property was renamed Linnaea Farm after the twinflower, Linnaea borealis, which grows here in abundance. 

Linnaea Farm, which currently consists of 314 acres, has always been important to the history and development of the Cortes community. Produce from the gardens has been sold and traded, milk was delivered while the dairy was in operation, and camps with horse-riding activities were available to young people of Cortes and beyond.

Trails through the property are still commonly used for hiking or simply as shortcuts for Cortes residents and tourists. These include trails to Cortes Bay, Easter Bluff, Larson's Meadow, and the lakeside trail to Hague Lake. The diversity and beauty of the landscape, the flora and fauna, and the exceptional vistas have always made this property a popular destination for lovers of nature. 

Linnaea Farm Stewards continue to feed and educate the Cortes Island community and opening up the farm for organizations such as The University of Victoria Permaculture and Power of Hope. 

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“Agriculture must mediate between nature and the human community, with ties and obligations in both directions. To farm well requires an elaborate courtesy toward all creatures, animate and inanimate. It is sympathy that most appropriately enlarges the context of human work. Contexts become wrong by being too small - too small, that is, to contain the scientist or the farmer or the farm family or the local ecosystem or the local community - and this is crucial.”


― Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food

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Regenerative Agriculture

The key to regenerative agriculture is that it not only “does no harm” to the land but actually improves it, using technologies that regenerate and revitalize the soil and the environment. Regenerative agriculture leads to healthy soil, capable of producing high quality, nutrient dense food while simultaneously improving, rather than degrading land, and ultimately leading to productive farms and healthy communities and economies. It is a dynamic and holistic, incorporating permaculture and organic farming practices, including conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, composting, mobile animal shelters and pasture cropping, to increase food production, farmers’ income and especially, topsoil.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

#FarmOutBroadcast

The Linnaea Farmout Broadcast is an educational video series documenting a market gardener throughout the 2013 growing season. During his year off from teaching the Ecological Garden Program, follow Linnaea Farm's Adam Schick as he shares his methods of growing food for a CSA, farmer's market and a local food co-op. Enjoy his playful style as he offers insight into what it takes to grow delicious food in the Pacific Northwest.

 

In brief installments learn about starting seeds, crop rotation, season extension and more!