Grassi Point Farm among oldest in Comox Valley, but leading in hottest trends

Owners Tom and Roberta Feely have diversified over the years, adding vegetable crops and constructing the Grassi Point Farm Market

FARMER TOM FEELY and his wife Roberta operate Grassi Point Farm in the Comox Valley.

The Comox Valley Farmers’ Institute is proud to profile Comox Valley farmers and showcase the value of local agriculture. This is the third in a series of such profiles.

Grassi Point Farm may be one of the Comox Valley’s oldest farms, but it’s anything but old news.

The farm, which was founded back in 1889, is on the leading edge of some of the hottest trends in agriculture, including agri-tourism, organic farming and the local food movement.

Though beef has traditionally been Grassi Point Farm’s main product, current owners Tom and Roberta Feely have diversified over the years, adding vegetable crops and constructing the Grassi Point Farm Market. Originally built as a venue for the Feelys to sell their own produce, the market has since developed into a veritable cornucopia of local fare.

“We try to produce enough product of our own to sell at the market, but we do get some produce brought in from other local farmers,” says Tom, who at 75 years old still lives in the original farmhouse that his great-grandfather built on the property more than 100 years ago. “When we do bring stuff in, we make sure it’s B.C.-grown. This 100-mile radius thing, it makes sense; it’s good.”

In addition to fresh vegetables from Grassi Point Farm, the market also features Natural Pastures cheeses, fruit and berries from the Okanagan, an espresso bar brewing locally roasted coffee and all sorts of healthful drinks and snacks. The Feelys also keep the market stocked with fresh beef from their herd of six Charolais cattle, a breed known for its leanness.

“We try to do everything natural and healthy,” says Tom. “The beef is natural grass-fed beef. We don’t use any hormones, medicated feeds, chemical fertilizers or pesticides. It’s just natural, healthy food.

“At the market, we try to stay away from junk stuff,” he adds. “Except Island Farms ice cream. It has to be healthy!”

Grassi Point Farm dates back to the days of coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, who traded the land to Tom’s great-grandfather in exchange for a farm on Hornby Island. In 1995, Grassi Point was awarded Century Farm status in recognition of 100 years of continuous farming by the same family.

The farm’s future, says Tom, may involve some creative agri-tourism or even aquaculture innovations to complement its agricultural operations and the eight-site campground that’s already in operation. His main concern, however, is that his son David eventually takes over the family farm.

“I’d like to see the farm stay as a farm, because it’s good soil and it’s good producing land,” he says. “We hope David will take it over. He’s the sixth generation worker on the farm, and it would be nice to keep it in the family. That’s my dream anyway.”

The Grassi Point Farm Market is located just south of Royston at 4066 Island Highway South. For more information, call 250-338-7546.

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