Q & A with Hastings Park Egg Farmers

Ossome Acres, Chilliwack

A fifth generation farm in Chilliwack, Ossome Acres has been farmed by Aaron and Noella Oss for the last 8 years. Along with their fresh, organic produce, Aaron and Noella have recently increased their flock of laying hens to produce enough high-quality certified organic free-range eggs to sell at the market. Shoppers can find them weekly at Hastings Park until April 29.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about how your hens are kept at the farm?

A: Last year we converted an old calf barn into the chicken coop. The inspector said that it is big enough for 250 chickens and we have less than half of that. We also added two large fenced in runs for them to have free range access all day long. Since we also grow certified vegetables on the farm they also get some of our vegetable seconds, to give them a well rounded diet. Check out this video of our chickens in the run!

Q: Your farm is certified organic, can you tell us a bit about what the means for an egg farmer?

A: To be a Certified Organic Egg Farmer we have to be part of a Certifying organization like BCARA and provide them with documentation about our operations so that they can verify that we are following Organic standards. An inspector is sent to our farm each year. They verify that the chickens are from Certified Organic parents, receiving certified feed and their living conditions are spacious.

Rockweld Chicken, Abbotford

Tim and Flo Rempel have been farming chickens for over 18 years at their family-run farm in Abbostford. Rockweld Farm brings fresh, SPCA Certified eggs every Sunday to Hastings Park.

Q: Your farm is SPCA Certified, can you tell us a bit about how your hens are kept at the farm? Why did you decide to become Certified?

A: All our birds are free to roam in our barns with approximately twice the floor space, feed and water space per birds. All our birds are fed certified organic feed. The SPCA Certification allows the consumers to be confident we uphold our ethical animal treatment.

Q: How many people are involved with your operation?

A: All our family is involved in the farm full time, Tim, Flow, Aaron, Stephanie, Tim Jr., Julie and Jean (not family). We pride ourself on providing local, healthy ethical chicken meat and eggs to you the consumer! Our chicken pot pies are on the way!

Cedar Isle, Agassiz

Cedar Isle Farm is a 94-acre certified organic farm located on an island near Agassiz in the Eastern Fraser Valley. It has a small-scale free-range flock and has been producing high quality certified organic eggs for many years. Find them every other week at Hastings Park.

Q: What chicken breed(s) are your egg-laying hens?

A: Two batches are rotated; one consists of standard commercial brown layers, the other is made up of over a dozen heritage breeds.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about how your hens are kept at the farm? 

A: The hens are housed with several roosters in an old barn/shed, where they go outside every morning into a fenced enclosure. In the afternoon, they are let out of the enclosure into a large fenced pasture and, if conditions allow, all around the farmyard and fields. They return to the barn/shed by themselves to roost at night.

Q: Your farm is certified organic, can you tell us a bit about what the means for an egg farmer?

A: As the farm is organic, no rat poison is used; instead, a cadre of veteran barn cats and resident barn owls keep the rodent population under control. The birds are fed certified organic feed — half is commercial layer mash purchased from Canadian Organic Feeds and half is home-grown organic grains and screenings (a by-product of the farm’s organic grain CSA program). Since they range widely, the hens also eat significant amounts of grass and clover, worms, insects and whatever edible goodies they scratch up in the pastures. Home-grown organic straw serves as their bedding material.  These are very happy hens!

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your operation?

A: One of the biggest challenges is managing the scarcity of the eggs.  Since this is a small operation, there are never enough to go around, so Yoshi, Diane, Jim and the young people request that people savour every single delicious egg

Free range heritage hens at Cedar Isle Farm