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Island farmers celebrate 10-year labour of love at Keating Farm

It’s been a decade since George and Rebecca Papadopoulos left the city and embraced Island rural life

George and Rebecca Papadopoulos followed their dreams of trading urban life in for farm life when they bought the heritage Keating Farm from the Land Conservancy of BC in 2014.

Their tagline is ‘Farm life, celebrated’ and the pair are planning to commemorate their decade long labour of love with the community on March 23 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

READ MORE: Offer in for Keating Farm sale

“What a journey,” said George. “Ten years is a pretty big hallmark for us. We’ve always been big dreamers and romantics with what we do in life. It was a large undertaking, and one we took extra care to do in a way that would benefit a community that we love so much.”

“We have completely devoted ourselves to this project for 10 years,” said Rebecca.

When the couple moved to Keating Farm on March 22, 2014 they said the 28 acre property was derelict and the 16 buildings on site had structurally failed and needed a complete overhaul.

Rebecca said the pair went in with a 10-year plan knowing there was tons to be done in order to save the farm, and spent the years of 2014 to 2018 working exclusively on the restoration of the house.

In 2020, the couple was bestowed a conservation award from Heritage BC, and were also nominated for an award from the National Trust, both for the restoration of their heritage farm house.

“For us that is a huge part of what we are reflecting on, we’ve done that, we’ve saved all the heritage buildings, and have won awards for the restoration that we did,” said Rebecca. “As soon as we finished the house we were recognized by several people within the island heritage conservation community that came up and toured and were so impressed with what had been done that they nominated us for these awards.”

The couple has an array of animals including sheep, chickens, and have a round or two of pigs each years that are farrowed on a farm in Sahtlam according to George. They had been selling fresh apple and pear juice, but in 2018 the pair really got their hands dirty and amped up their farming. They offer four different meat products — pork, lamb, chicken and turkey and also farm and sell honey, eggs and hay.

“We raise everything using regenerative farming methods. We rotationally graze all of our animals, and use very ethical and sustainable methods with all of our farming,” said Rebecca. “We have all kinds of heritage varieties of apples because the farm is so old. People come and actually take scions and sample the trees in order to try and maintain some of the varieties that we have here because they don’t exist elsewhere on the island. It makes for a really delicious juice that we make on site too.”

Rebecca previously worked as an engineer and George, who worked previously as an epidemiologist with Emergency Health Services, both agree that the best thing about starting this journey is being able to it together.

The pair says they have lived in many urban centres including New York City, and Vancouver and wouldn’t trade their new life in for the world.

“To this very day it’s a joy,” laughed George. “We have three absolutely stunning children who were all born here on the farm over the last 10 years. It’s been incredible, you couldn’t hope for a better life for them.

“This is a very special place. It is a jewel in B.C., the country, and I would argue having traveled lots in my life that it’s also a jewel out of some of the best places in the world. I mean the climate and geography is part of it, but also the community here.”

“We’ve met so many amazing people since we’ve been here,” said Rebecca. That’s a big part of what we want to celebrate. For us the event this weekend is about inviting the community and thanking all the wonderful people who have come in to help or to teach things.”

The open house at Keating Farm this Saturday will feature Victoria’s Sizzling Tandoor, and Lake Cowichan Mensch Kitchen and Catering selling an array of food choices using fresh ingredients from Keating Farm for a menu that the owners collaborated on.

Gondola Gelato will be on site, and there will also be a coffee and espresso bar set up selling a variety of sweet treats, freshly made espresso drinks and kid friendly beverages such as apple cider and hot cocoa.

There will be tons of entertainment for the entire family including free face painting for the kids, live music and crafting stations, yard games and picnicking. Those in attendance will even have the chance to see the heritage buildings up close and personal as they take tours of the hay barn and farm house, not to mention all the cute animals.

“Our little baby lambs will be out-bounding in the field.” said Rebecca. “It should be wonderful experience with something for everyone to enjoy.”

“I want people to take away our appreciation and gratitude, to be very clear this event is for the community,” said George.

“It’s about recognizing how amazing this place is and the community that supports us, because farms don’t work if the community doesn’t believe in what they are doing.”

About the Author: Chadd Cawson

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