Tristan Banwell has been involved with LAFS from the start. As President of the society and full-time rancher, he is a strong advocate for local and sustainable agriculture.
In this short interview, Banwell tells us about his family, his farm and his vision.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
My wife Aubyn and I moved to Lillooet in early 2014 to manage Spray Creek Ranch. Aubyn majored in Studio Art at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA and I studied Natural Resources Conservation at UBC before we married — but we met in band class in high school in Northern California. I worked and studied around the world and Aubyn and I homesteaded for five years on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State before moving to Lillooet.
It was while we were homesteading off-grid on the Olympic Peninsula, that we started trying to become more self-sufficient and grow some food. When you do something you love you are bound to produce a surplus. We saw that raising our own livestock for meat, milk and eggs was beneficial for our health and the health of the land, and soon we had chickens, ducks, goats and pigs rotating around the farmstead. Before long, we were producing a wide range of vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, meats and eggs for on-farm sales to our small community and we knew this was what we wanted to do for a living.
Q: When did you get involved with LAFS and why?
A: When I moved to Lillooet, I saw so much potential and had plenty of ideas. When I discovered the Ag Plan, I realized a diverse group of people had already spent a lot of time thinking about how to build a sustainable food system in our area. I decided to start working on some of the tasks identified in the Ag Plan, one of which was starting a “farmers’ institute”, which became LAFS.
Q: Can you tell us about your farming practices?
A: Spray Creek Ranch is a certified organic and diversified regenerative farm using ecological principles to produce wholesome, delicious pastured meats. We raise certified organic beef cattle, pigs, meat chickens, turkeys and laying hens on pasture as part of an integrated and regenerative agroecological system. We also operate a growing on-farm abattoir and meat shop, and are moving toward slaughtering all our livestock on the farm and providing slaughter and cut & wrap services to other farms in our region.
Q: Where are your products sold?
A: Customers can find us selling our beef, pork, chicken, turkey and eggs at the Lillooet, Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish Farmers’ Markets. We are also open by appointment for tours and on-farm sales, and you can taste our products at our favourite local eateries: Abundance Artisan Bakery and The Kitchen at Fort Berens Estate Winery.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: We are growing our business each year as we develop our systems, connect with more customers and find out what works. In 2018 we will be producing a lot more beef, increasing the size of our laying flock and building on the capacity of our on-farm meat shop.
Photo Credit: Spray Creek Ranch