Ruckle Heritage Farm is the oldest working farm in British Columbia still owned by the original family. Current farm manager Mike Lane has been involved with Ruckle Farm since 1990. Mike & wife Marjorie endeavor to maintain a working farm as the Ruckles had, raising sheep & lambs, cows, hens, turkeys, and hay. They also work a large market garden and continue sales through their farmstand as Gwen Ruckle had in the past.
Mike & Marjorie get help with all this production through International Farmstay programs such as Global Lifestyles and World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. These programs have brought young people from around the world to live & work at the farm, enjoying all that this wonderful place has to offer. Mike & Marjorie have made many lasting friendships with most of the farmstays being long term, about 6 months.
Three border collies are invaluable in their service helping move the animals on the farm. Both the sheep and the cattle must pay heed to their directions, even the poultry will often be herded about by these working dogs. The boys have sired many litters of puppies. Nash, the elder, is father to both Mario and Robbie with different mothers. Each dog displays certain expertise, Mario being most intense toward the sheep, while Robbie is fearless manuvering the cattle. Nash has reached the age of retirement and has taken on a more supervisory role!
We host Farm Day in the Spring, this being a Heritage day of demonstrations of old style farming and practices such as churning butter, spinning & weaving, horse plowing and tractor plowing.
The market garden sales through the farmstand at the end of the driveway provide in season fruit & veggies along with a large assortment of farm products such as seeds, herbs, lavender, catnip, fresh & dried flowers, photo-cards of the farm. One of the farmstand s biggest highlights is the fresh cookies & lemonade tired hikers will find at the end of their trail. Visitors from around the world to Ruckle Park/Farm leave notes at our farmstand expressing their delight & amazement at finding the honor system still exists in the world!
The farm raises up to 150 lambs annually from about 90 ewes. Lambing begins close to Christmas, creating lots of activity over the following couple of months. The lamb is raised for local meat sales of the coveted Salt Spring Lamb , renouned for it s unique flavor.
Highland cattle range the farm, raising a few calves for meat sales each year. These cattle are quite an attraction, looking much like big wooley mammoths with their long coats |& big horns. Mike tries to make them viewable for visitors, as with the sheep - but keep in mind when it s hot they all seek the shade of the forest!
The wild turkeys are always traffic-stoppers! These turkeys are free-range at it s finest! They roam the farm and entertain visitors to the Park with their curious & showy displays. In the spring we collect turkey eggs and incubate about 200 each year, selling some as chicks and raising the rest for Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey sales. A brooder flock of about 30 - 40 is maintained all year.
A mixed flock of hens is kept for egg sales, again completely free range birds. Happy hens make such delicious eggs we cannot keep up to demand for our product. Predators such as eagles, ravens, racoons, and mink make free range production such as this a real challenge. On Ruckle Farm Days, the public can enjoy tractor-drawn plowing, antique tractor demos, blacksmithing & old style logging equipment. The 4-H club brings their animals as a little petting zoo and sell goodies as a fundraiser. Mike & the dogs provide a sheep-herding demonstration. The local Lions Club also fundraises with sales of barbequed burgers & hotdogs. It s a free, fun, family kind of day at the farm.
We participate with the local Fall Fair in September, with a display of our Heritage Farm and doing sheep dog demonstrations twice daily over the weekend fair. We also assist with the sheep shearing demonstration. We contribute with entries every year as well, having a run of 5 straight years with the Family Garden trophy.
A little later in the fall brings the Apple Festival where we showcase our Heritage Orchards, this farm having many heritage varieties of apples, pears, nut trees. Many of the trees are quite ancient now, some known to be about 100 years old. In spite of their age, they are still producing a bounty!
Tucked inside Ruckle Provincial Park remains 200 acres of the Province s oldest working farm still held by the original family in lifetime tenure. Since 1974 the surrounding 1000 acres has public access after being deeded to the Province of British Columbia as parkland with camping & trails bordered by 7 km of shoreline.
One of Salt Spring Island s earliest settlers, Henry Ruckle came to the island in 1872 in hopes of acquiring farmland. By 1948 the family s total holding was 1196 acres.
Ruckle Farm was a big operation in it s heyday. At one time it s full production included an orchard of more than 600 apple and pear trees, and about 40 nut trees. The family raised sheep, cattle, hogs, turkeys, chickens, and pheasants. The farm produced hay, potatoes, wheat, oats, barley, field peas & root crops.
Salt Spring Island was a major contributor to BC s Agricultural Community from the late 1800 s and therefore their thriving orchard felt the impact of the arrival of irrigation to the Okanogan Valley in the 1930 s. The Ruckles stayed on through this decline in Salt Spring Island s farming, and for a time ran a dairy selling milk & cream.
The current farm manager Mike Lane has been involved with Ruckle Farm since 1990. Mike & wife Marjorie endeavor to maintain a working farm as the Ruckles had with sheep, cows, turkeys, chickens & hay. They also work a large market garden and continue sales through their farm stand just as Gwen Ruckle did in the past.
Henry and Gordon Ruckle s legacy lives on in this magnificent farmland. This Heritage should never be lost. May this Pioneer land always remain a working farm in keeping with Gordon Ruckle s wishes, and with respect to this family who Has given us all such a jewel to enjoy! This gift attests to the enduring spirit of the Ruckle Family. As Henry s son Gordon Ruckle once said, You can t own land, you can only preserve it for future generations.