Good Natured Growing at A Rocha Organic Farm in Surrey

By Ashley Lockyer

Classic red tractors, fields bound by forests, and bright red beets that radiate nutrition with their sweetness: That’s what you’ll experience at A Rocha farm in Surrey, BC. Their dedication to good taste doesn’t only apply to flavour. It’s their farming philosophy to use organic, sustainable farming methods that support the environment and build community.

A Rocha educates by example. Paul Neufield, farm manager, and Andy Smith, assistant farm manager, describe using “cover crops” to help soil stay nutrient rich and weed-free between seasons.
A Rocha educates by example. Paul Neufield, farm manager, and Andy Smith, assistant farm manager, describe using “cover crops” to help soil stay nutrient rich and weed-free between seasons.

Group tours get a chance to wander through fields with the farmers, who point out organic growing techniques and show the benefits of eco-conscious gardens.

“Often conservation and farming seem to be at odds with one another… we want to, in a really small way, demonstrate that a garden can be a really thriving ecosystem that’s diverse and healthy and has a place for animals and insects within it,” says farm manager, Paul Neufield.

A Rocha’s 18 acres are a “living lab” of ecosystems including forests, a threatened river system, two acres of organic gardens, and heritage homes for private retreats or group events.
A Rocha’s 18 acres are a “living lab” of ecosystems including forests, a threatened river system, two acres of organic gardens, and heritage homes for private retreats or group events.
Fiery swiss chard stalks, mammoth cauliflower blooms, and the remnants of seasonal pepper crops run in rainbow rows at A Rocha.
Fiery swiss chard stalks, mammoth cauliflower blooms, and the remnants of seasonal pepper crops run in rainbow rows at A Rocha.

Farmers here encourage you to expand your palate and taste test new varieties of your favourite produce, beyond the typical produce available at grocery stores.

Stripes, warts, large, small, all sizes and shapes of squash are welcome in A Rocha’s fields.
Stripes, warts, large, small, all sizes and shapes of squash are welcome in A Rocha’s fields.

“In our gardens we try to grow a lot of diversity, a little bit of everything. We try to rotate our crops around, we grow cover crops and use a lot of compost to build soil. We don’t use any pesticides or herbicides, we just use a lot of hand labour and a lot of love,” says Paul.

Tomatoes are on their way out in late October. Crops change with the seasons at A Rocha.
Tomatoes are on their way out in late October. Crops change with the seasons at A Rocha.

A Rocha farm offers retreats for those looking to reconnect with food and the land. Visitors enjoy meals that are harvested right beside the guest house. Those curious about how to source better tasting food, that’s better for the earth, can join a group tour or volunteer in the fields.

Guests can come for a private or group retreat to explore the gardens, grounds, and riverside trails at A Rocha’s Brookdale guest house.
Guests can come for a private or group retreat to explore the gardens, grounds, and riverside trails at A Rocha’s Brookdale guest house.
Dirt doesn’t hurt. Try your hand at harvesting in over two acres of organic gardens.
Dirt doesn’t hurt. Try your hand at harvesting in over two acres of organic gardens.
The same carrots above get a quick pickle and join the charcuterie board at Trading Post Taphouse & Eatery. This Fraser Valley restaurant sources A Rocha farm’s produce.
The same carrots above get a quick pickle and join the charcuterie board at Trading Post Taphouse & Eatery. This Fraser Valley restaurant sources A Rocha farm’s produce.

As well as guests and local business, over 100 families enjoy seasonal vegetables delivered right to their door as part of the farm’s Community Shared Agriculture Program.

A Rocha sees beyond their fields and cares for the lands surrounding the farm. They take care to not impact the nearby water sources (a common problem with farms worldwide).
A Rocha sees beyond their fields and cares for the lands surrounding the farm. They take care to not impact the nearby water sources (a common problem with farms worldwide).
Chickens enjoy a dust bath below their big red coop. These free range hens scratch for food, and eat a varied organic diet. This shows in their eggs which have rich orange, healthful yolks packed with flavour.
Chickens enjoy a dust bath below their big red coop. These free range hens scratch for food, and eat a varied organic diet. This shows in their eggs which have rich orange, healthful yolks packed with flavour.

“I feel like food is something that draws people together, that’s a big part of community. Growing your own big garden and going out and harvesting it and then bringing it inside and working with those fresh ingredients brings people together in a really special way,” says Paul.

To taste the authentic flavour of Canada’s West Coast, there’s nothing better than farm fresh produce pulled straight from the land. It’s a great place to see that what’s good for people can be good for the earth, too.

A Rocha Farm
1620 192 Street
Surrey, BC
arocha.ca/where-we-work/brooksdale/