Blue Jay Lake farm welcomes newcomers to rural life and helps address local housing shortage

Two black cows saunter down a driveway leading to a farm.
Two calves free range down the driveway leading to Blue Jay Lake Farm. Photo by Greg Osoba.
Greg Osoba - CKTZ - Cortes IslandBC | 06-04-2022
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Blue Jay Lake Farm has been welcoming newcomers to Cortes Island for more than 30 years. The farm seeks workers through the international Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms (WWOOF) program, previously known as "Willing Workers On Organic Farms." Up to 25 "Woofers" per year spend time on the farm.

Henry and Margaret Verschuur own the farm and Henry says with Cortes Island's severe housing shortage, Blue Jay Lake Farm's welcome to newcomers not only addresses labour needs on the farm, but also helps people find both short term and long term homes.

A farmer greets two black and white goats in a barnyard.

Blue Jay Lake Farm owner Henry Verschuur greets two goats in his barnyard. Photo by Greg Osoba

He says those who've stayed on over the years and taken up residency have helped enrich Cortes Island's unique community fabric. Henry estimates that three dozen people have stayed longer term on Cortes Island after first spending time on the farm. Along with producing veggies, fruits, livestock and meat products, Blue Jay Lake Farm also operates a sawmill cutting dimensional lumber for local islanders.

Henry Verschuur describes the community and what keeps it together in the interview below with CKTZ News: