If it is unlikely that an artist and doctor parents would produce a farmer, then having that farmer win a regional award as an Outstanding Young Farmer (OYF) seems even a greater stretch of the imagination. But, tell that to Cammy Lockwood, the product of non-farming parents. Cammy Lockwood and her husband James were named winners of the British Columbia OYF regional award. Fittingly, the couple didn’t start out with farming in mind. When the application process for the RCMP dragged on, however, they partnered with James’s father on 5.5 acres and never looked back.
Located in Cobble Hill, B.C., in the southeast corner of Vancouver Island, Lockwood Farms has gone from 399 laying hens in 2014 to over 5,000 today. In spite of the growth, their focus remains on producing high quality eggs as well as vegetables in a sustainable, ethical manner.
“The farm is like our fourth child, though with much higher demands than the other three put together,” said James. “When making production or purchasing decisions, we look at it holistically to ensure that animals, people and the environment are considered at every step.”
As an example, they have recently introduced insect larvae — produced on landfill waste near Langley — as a protein source for their hens.
“This is something we’re doing in partnership with Enterra Feed Corporation and are very excited about,” said James. “Enterra produces black soldier fly larvae, which we ship to our feed company and have them mill it into the layer ration. Insect protein is the most sustainable protein available to humans and animals as it doesn’t require the same land mass as other sources. Whereas you derive about 360 kg/acre of protein from soy, insect larvae can produce 120,000 kg/acre; that’s about as environmentally friendly as you can get.”
Part of supporting the environment is securing the future for the couple’s three children. Though they guard against pushing seven-year-old Keighley, six-year-old Jayce and Simphiwe (age five) into farming, they lend their time to supporting other young people who wish to experience the lifestyle.
Lockwood Farms is a member of WWOOF Canada — World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, Canada — which in turn is part of the Federation of WWOOF Organizations, a worldwide community that promotes awareness of ecological farming practices by providing visitors with the opportunity to live and learn on organic properties.
“We have had about 100 people who trade labour for room and board,” said Cammy. “We love opening our home, working alongside the participants and sharing our life with them.”
Though they were pleased to win the award, calling it bittersweet would be an understatement.
“We lost James’s dad at this time last year and were nominated shortly afterwards,” she says. “It’s sad that we couldn’t share the award with him as we were such a great team and owe much of our success to his efforts.”
In recent years, the couple has worked on building the business to a stage where they can take themselves out of it at times, freeing them up for other pursuits like travel and overseas adoption. Going forward, the Lockwoods plan to expand their flocks and vegetable production while exploring different growing systems.
Through it all, what keeps them going is the joy of producing good, healthy food for people and fielding compliments from chefs about their quality.
“I thrive on putting seeds in the ground and watching miracles happen, or marveling at how chickens produce eggs,” she says. “These are things we get to witness every day, so I feel quite fortunate.”
They suspect that James’s dad would feel the same.