In our newest homestead blog post, we get to chat with our friend Dana Dykema from Valley to Shore in Lynn Valley North Vancouver.
Who are you, where do you live and what do you like about homesteading and operating your business ?
My name is Dana Dykema. I live on the North Shore with my husband and four children. As my kids have grown, I have learned the importance of sourcing local, seasonal foods and how to make meals from scratch. I like that I am sourcing food for my family and using that to meal plan for the week ahead. I believe our current global food system has left us disconnected and deceived. We have been told the lie that we are too busy to source our own food and cook for ourselves. With the rise of greenwashing, it’s difficult to trust what’s on a label.
How did you get started with Valley to Shore and what are some useful tips for those who want to get started with living more sustainably?
I wasn’t finding a lot of the local food I wanted in my neighbourhood grocery stores. I wanted to know where my food came from. I wanted my whole dollar to go to the farmers, not just a portion after all the middlemen were paid. I met Dan and Helen Oostenbrink of Local Harvest and Andrew Couzens of Terra Flora Soilworks. A few months later, I launched Valley to Shore in November of 2021. This way I know where my food comes from and am able to connect my community to this nearby farm as well. Meeting other farmers and entrepreneurs in 2022 meant I was able to add to my veggie box offering. Eating locally isn’t always the most convenient, but it is the most nourishing; not only literally from food grown and raised nearby. It feels good knowing my farmer and also knowing I’m keeping my dollars in my local economy. Making one change at a time will get you further along in your homestead journey than trying to do a full 180 right away. One swap at a time, one skill at a time.
What are the products or services that you offer for your business and where can people buy them?
My main product I offer is the Harvest Box from Local Harvest. This is composed of 13-15 different seasonal produce items primarily grown at Local Harvest. Spray free and grown using the no till method, the vegetables, herbs and fruits are full of flavour and freshness. I also offer seasonal items like rainbow eggs, berries, stone fruit, bulk vegetables and flowers from numerous different farms in the Fraser Valley. I have a continual supply of gourmet mushrooms, sourdough bread, chili oil, dehydrated sourdough starter and coffee which I offer year round. Lastly, I am a distributor for Terra Flora Soilworks in Chilliwack and am supplied with vermicompost and Living Soil for seedlings for the North Shore.
What are the benefits of living on a homestead and choosing this for yourself and/or your family?
I don’t have a lot of land. We rent a small house in North Vancouver. You can homestead wherever you are. I buy the bulk of our meat directly from local farmers. This gives me peace of mind knowing where my food comes from and the best price across the board for all the cuts. Having meat on hand like this is very handy when raising teenagers! I am also purposing to grow as much food as our little plot can produce. I have a greenhouse, a few Sproutboxes and many pots of fruit-bearing shrubs, plus a few in ground beds. Being independent from the grocery store, learning skills to know how to grow and prepare my own food is very rewarding. We are also working towards getting our own little flock of backyard chickens. I just might shed a tear or two from happiness when that happens. I think our food supply is very tenuous and unstable. The local farmer has been pushed aside by the big corporations who care more about the bottom line than people and the planet. I want to distance myself as much as I can from that system.
Who are some homesteaders or farmers who inspire you to get better and try new things?
I have learned so much from Dan Oostenbrink (Local Harvest) & Andrew Couzens (Terra Flora). During Covid, I discovered the Local Harvest Gardening course they ran online together. The course is now in person with Dan, and I don’t make it out anymore. I’ll always be grateful I stumbled across that course when it was online. Both these men have persevered through difficulty and trial and error. They gave me permission to fail and to keep trying. That was a great way to start my gardening journey. I also admire Vanessa from May Blooms Acreage. Her ethics and steady forward motion in farming and gardening are inspiring. Jessica from Three Rivers Homestead was probably the first account I started to follow in regard to homesteading. She has set the bar high for food preservation goals. There are so many folks out there doing amazing, inspiring things.
What is the one main life lesson that homesteading or farming has taught you about yourself?
I think the main life lesson that homesteading has taught me is that it’s ok to fail. Failure is a great teacher. It teaches perseverance, persistence, humility and hopefully, the joy of success.
Outside of homesteading, what do you get up to for fun in your personal time?
Since I live so close to Lynn Canyon I really enjoy getting into the woods with my family and/or friends. I am so blessed to live across the street from the entrance to this wonderland.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like people to know about you or your homestead or business?
I’m a new entrepreneur; as I juggle small business ownership and motherhood and homeschooling. My life is full. It is such a privilege for me to serve my community in connecting them to our local farmers. We should all know where our food comes from. It shouldn’t be a mystery. Being connected to our food this way is such a beautiful symbiotic relationship we have in receiving the best our region has to offer from our hard-working, dedicated neighbors who farm the land and raise the animals we will nourish our families with. Supporting them will keep our communities resilient and well-fed.
I welcome collaborations! Let’s work together to grow our businesses and bring excellence in service and products to our community here in the Lower Mainland.
Wild Bluebell Homestead is a charming hobby farm located in Abbotsford that offers a range of hand-made artisanal products, curated vintage furniture, sourdough bread, and other homemade items. The homestead is dedicated to creating unique and high-quality products that are beautiful, functional, and long-lasting, plus each item is carefully crafted with attention to detail. Customers can expect a warm and welcoming experience and a range of products that are perfect for adding a touch of rustic charm to any home.