On Salt Spring Island, one former Thompson Rivers University student helped cultivate a community on a self-sustaining farm. Now, she is one of four authors of the newly released cookbook Seven Seasons on Stowel Lake Farm, featuring homemade recipes from nearly two decades of living remotely.
Liz Young grew up in Vancouver but needed a change of scenery, as she was turned off by the bright city lights.
Working as guide in Strathcona, Young thought the best move to advance her career was to enrol in the Adventure Travel Guide program at the then University of Cariboo College (UCC).
“I didn’t have a goal in mind for what I wanted to do, I just figured I wanted to stay in the industry,” said Young, who graduated in 1997.
While taking a ski class at UCC, Young injured her knee. That’s when she began doing her own rehabilitation and was introduced to yoga.
It was through guiding that she met Jennifer Lloyd, one of the three children that was raised on Stowel Lake Farm. In between college and travelling, they worked together briefly as sea kayak guides, until Lloyd returned to the island to farm.
Young was still travelling and guiding at that point. One day in India, where Young was studying yoga, she emailed Lloyd and asked to come live on the farm.
“Travelling, teaching and guiding for a couple years left me without a home-base,” said Young. “When I got in touch with Jen, I didn’t know anything about farming or growing vegetables, I just wanted a place to feel grounded and to learn how to grow my own food.”
It was supposed to be a temporary stay, while Young’s future husband—who she met in the Adventure program at UCC—was back in school in Nanaimo. Instead, she ended up planting her roots, in more ways than one.
“In those early years, a community began to take shape and the idea of us living and creating a life here became much more interesting,” she said.
Two years into her stay, Young and Matt Kellow were married. Three years after that, they had their first of three kids on the farm.
As the years went on at Stowel Lake Farm, a few more families moved in during the early 2000s, each bringing their own contributions to the farm.
People also began to make their way to the farm to participate in retreats. The community made a conscious choice to open up the 118-acre farm and their lives to retreats, other events like farm-to-table dinners and concerts.
“When we’re hosting a retreat, we have about 20 to 50 people stay with us at a time for anywhere from three to 10 days,” she said.
The farm offers meals, accommodation and world-class facilities as part of the retreat packages.
Now in her eighteenth year on the farm, Young has shifted from a farmer into the business side of the community, which includes being one of the writers on the cookbook over the past six years.
The book, Seven Seasons on Stowel Lake Farm,which hit shelves Oct. 16,dives into the different growing seasons and includes year-round recipes. One of Young’s favourite dishes is a summer time ratatouille stew, loaded with tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and peppers.
Young has already visited Tacoma, WA, and Toronto ON, promoting the book, including an appearance with fellow local Haidee Hart on CTV’s The Social. These days, Young and her team are down in California for further promotion.
But wherever she goes, remote or not remote, Young still remembers some of the values handed down in her time at UCC.
“I’m not adventuring now like I was back then, but all those skills we learned about being prepared in the wilderness and being able to take care of yourself translated into other aspects of my life. I feel like I can draw back on my time and those years in Kamloops because they played a huge part in where I am today.”