What started as a hobby turned into a career for British Columbia farmerBy Egg Farmers of Canada
This is the fourth in the series of profiles for the 2022 Young Farmer Program participants. They are all young leaders taking part in Egg Farmers of Canada’s national young farmer program. The goal of the program is to provide young farmers with the skills, knowledge and experience to be leaders in the industry.
Yarrow, British Columbia
Born and raised in North Vancouver, Juschka Clarke never thought that her Yarrow, B.C. farm, Hazelsprings Organics – purchased by her mother in 1990 as a hobby farm – would become a commercial venture one day.
“We had horses and a passion for farming, and we started with five chickens in a horse barn,” Juschka says of her hobby flock, which eventually grew to a few hundred hens. But when a friend at one of her kids’ soccer games told her about the BC Egg New Producer Program, designed to help BC residents interested in egg production get started by allocating quota, Juschka saw an opportunity to turn her hobby into a new career.
After doing a lot of research and developing a business plan, Juschka applied for the program nine years ago, and by the luck of the draw, she was allocated 3,000 units of quota. The decision to build a new barn with a free range organic housing system was a natural fit for the farm. “I’ve always had a passion for organic farming,” she says. “We’ve never used any chemicals or pesticides on the farm.” And given that her farm is located near Chilliwack – one of the fastest-growing urban areas of BC – the demand for organic eggs from local consumers continues to grow. Over time, she has increased the size of her flock to 4,400 hens.
While Juschka runs the egg business as a solo operator – “I do it all,” she says – the 14-acre farm is home to multiple generations, including her mother, Inge, and her three adult children, Emily, Meghan, and Aiden. With the farm’s proximity to a sizeable urban consumer base, Juschka sees many opportunities to further diversify the farm, including farm gate sales, raising sheep and goats, growing hops, and agri-tourism. Her daughter Emily, a florist, has a floral garden on the farm.
“We have a spectacular way of life here,” she says. “I see my kids having a future on the farm here as well.”
As a passionate advocate for the egg industry, especially for organics, Juschka volunteers her time as producer liaison at BC fairs and exhibitions and hosts farm tours. “I like to help dispel any misconceptions people have about how eggs are produced,” she says.
But she’s also keen to learn more about the industry and get more involved with the BC Egg Producers. As a relatively new producer, she was asked by her provincial egg board to participate in the national young farmer program. “It’s an opportunity to get to know the industry better,” she says, “and maybe I can help others learn from my experience.”