Two years ago, Clara Woroschuk left behind her office job in Winnipeg to pursue her farming dream. “Being in an office – I couldn’t see myself doing that for the next 30 years until I retire,” she admitted. “I started gardening in Winnipeg and was just like ‘Oh I love this!’ So this is my new office. And my chickens are my co-workers!”
After spending five years visiting the area and hunting for the right property, she fell in love with an old Doukhobor farm in the Slocan Valley, and set about building what has become Casa Terra. As well as just under an acre of market gardens and a dozen chickens, Clara cans and preserves a lot of food; both for her own consumption and for sale at market. She summed it up when she said, “My days are in the garden and my nights are in the kitchen. It’s another full day of work”. But those hours are worth it, and her stall features a wonderful array of jams, pickles and her famous soups. She is of Ukranian heritage and enjoys incorporating traditional foods in her repertoire, but she’s also known for her Russian style Borscht, which she was taught to make by her Doukhobor neighbour.
Prior to her move to the Kootenays, she’d been growing food for the previous three years, juggling a full time job with the weekly farmers markets. Her knowledge and experience shines through, and her gardens are bursting with produce; garlic scapes twirling, tomatoes climbing and broccoli heads filling out ready for market next week. She is passionate about growing with good principles; “I am a full supporter of sustainable organic farming. Be as close to nature as possible. Feed the soil which will feed your plants.” The highlight for her is watching the plants progress through the seasons. “I start my own seedlings at the end of January,” she told us. “And in August and September, seeing them bearing fruit – that’s my favorite part.”
Clara thinks it’s important for people to find out where their food comes from. “People assume, ‘Oh farmers market, everyone’s growing their own food,’ but that’s not necessarily the case. One thing I want is for more people to come by here and see the farm and pick up a few things for their dinner” And her message to consumers in the community? “Eat whole foods, eat natural and support your local small farmers. We are here for them, we really are.”
She admits that farming is a lot of work, but wants to encourage others who might be considering a career change. “Go for it,” she said. “Not even just farming. Follow your dreams, you have to make yourself happy. Get out of your comfort zone and do what you really want to do.”