Our names are Emily and Nathan, and we are Confluence Farms! We came to the Kootenays from very different places - Nathan is an Alberta city boy, and I am a country girl from Wisconsin. We met in the summer of 2015 at Shambhala Music Festival, and at that time we had very different life paths.
Nathan was studying Holistic Nutrition in Edmonton and I was studying Ecological Agriculture and Community Development in Washington state. But after two years of visiting each other on our breaks, we decided to tie the knot and start a life together in Canada.
We landed in Edmonton with a crazy idea. We wanted to start a farm in the place that we originally met - the magical Kootenays. With no money, land or any idea of how this was going to happen, we decided we better start farming.
That spring we took over a vacant city lot near our house to grow a garden in. Our goal was to grow all of our own veggies for the summer and have some left over to feed our friends and family. There were some rough patches that season, but we accomplished our goal and had fun doing it.
After living in Edmonton for a year, a friend offered us some land to farm in Kelowna. It wasn't exactly what we were looking for but it was a lot closer to the Kootenays than Edmonton was, so in the spring of 2019 we moved to Kelowna. We started Confluence Farms from a blank slate on a quarter acre of scraggly old horse pasture behind our rental home. Our goal was to provide all of our vegetable needs for the whole year.
Much to our delight, our garden was so productive that we soon found ourselves sharing our veggies and flowers with friends and neighbors.
That summer we became a bit obsessed with sharing our food with people - even knocking on doors in our neighborhood to give veggies away. We also started a ‘Free Farm Stand’ on the side of the road as a way to connect our food with our community.
From June through September, we loaded up our coolers with our finest veggies and invited people to take them home. The response that we received was incredibly heart-warming, and we knew that we had found our calling.
For the 2020 growing season, we decided to doubled our size to a half acre. We focused on producing the most delicious, nutritious, and sustainably-produced veggies, herbs, and flowers that you ever did see!
We then heard about a program called the Young Agrarians which helps young farmers find land to farm on. We decided to reach out to see what was out there and low and behold our dream farm appeared.
Tulaberry Farm in Passmore has been run by Judi and Alex for the better part of 40 years. They built it from scratch and created one of the most beautiful farms we had ever been to.
In 2021 they gave us the incredible opportunity to lease their land. Our dream of starting a farm in the Kootenays had all of a sudden become a reality.
It wasn't all butterflies and rainbows however. During that first year we had to farm through a brutal heat wave known as a "heat dome" where it got as hot as +44 c. After the heat dome subsided we then had to endure four weeks of thick wild fire smoke. It was one of the most challenging years of our lives.
After two years of sweat, tears and toiling we found out that our dream farm was going to be sold - a common conundrum for young farmers on leased land. With our livelihood on the line we reached out to the community and asked for help.
One day a dedicated customer of ours reached out and offered us a half acre field and a place to live on his property. It met all of our requirements, so in the fall of 2022 we moved our farm to Pass Creek!
Our goal with Confluence Farms is to build a localized food system. One that makes it easy for our community to connect with and support local farmers. The journey of a farmer is not an easy one. But we know that if we can come together to support one another we can build a happier, healthier and more resilient community.
Want to learn more about us? Check out our article 10 Things You Didn't Know About Your Farmers