North Arm Farm: Sturdy, Sustainable + Family-Run in Pemberton

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Farm Sign British Columbia

North Arm Farm is an agricultural highlight along bucolic Sea-to-Sky Highway.

Pemberton is a hotbed for produce, supplying restaurants and farmers markets in B.C. as far south as Vancouver, and the marquee farm in this fertile, mountain-framed town is North Arm Farm. Jordan Sturdy, who also works as the Mayor of Pemberton, and for 35 days every winter, a Whistler Blackcomb bought the land with wife Trish in 1991 on the north arm of the Lillooet River Channel.

The couple initially started farming corn in the mid ’90s, prompted by a suggestion from a retiring farmer in town. They soon added an acre of raspberries, learned as they farmed and now produce 45 acres of vegetables, berries, pumpkins and of course potatoes, since the region is so prized for potatoes.

Farmers British Columbia

The Sturdys also raise chickens, ducks, lambs and pigs, but they’re not for sale.

The Sturdys always utilized sustainable farming practices, but they ultimately felt it was necessary to become certified organic. How come? “I got tired of talking about it,” said Sturdy,” and “It became clear that certain people weren’t willing to buy it.” They filled out paperwork and paying the large fees to stay certified, which is based on a percentage of sales. Now that they’re listed on the COABC website, North Arm Farm has received additional opportunities.

The Sturdys have become well known in the culinary community. They supply top local chefs and even have the ability to produce specialized produce. For example, for West chef David Gunawan, they grew celtuce, a stem lettuce that’s prized for the stalk, and supplied classic French chef Roland Pfaff with chrone, a root vegetable that Jordan Sturdy said “look a little like the Michelin tire man” and require arduous cleaning with baking soda and water. North Arm Farm also hosts a series of four Araxi longtable dinners in the summer, plus Outstanding in the Field.

Jordan Sturdy said Pemberton now features a lot more commuters to Whistler than in the old days. “It used to be that you could lie down in the middle of the road in the winter,” he said. “I wouldn’t do that now.”

B.C. experienced one of their hardest winters in years, with snow, cold and rainfall continuing several weeks later than expected. As a result, the farm store shelves were bare and fields were sparse.

Vegetables British Columbia

North Arm Farm still relied on winter stock, including big potato and vegetable bins.

Farm British Columbia

Tractors and farm equipment sit across a dirt road from fields, in front of a building loaded with Douglas fir logs that heat the Sturdy home.

Bees British Columbia

The Sturdys keep bees, but they don’t sell honey in their farm store. Instead they use some for themselves and keep the majority for the bees to feed on, to get them through the cold.

The Pony is a restaurant in Pemberton from Neil Harrison and chef Alex Stoll that recently took over on-site food prep. North Arm also sells vegetables, local cheeses, Sara’s old fashioned ice cream and chicken feed. [Fun Fact: The kitchen previously housed a calving barn, so it’s sloped.] We were treated to lunch on the patio, facing fields.

Salad British Columbia

The Pony lavished beet salad with feta, pecans, pecan dressing and sweet cicily, a flower with anise flavor.

Salad British Columbia

Deluxe Nicoise salad involved mixed greens, crunchy string beans, ripe cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, crispy fried capers and and green olives for tang, and pink, salt and pepper seared albacore.

Duck British Columbia

Fazzoletti – face towel pasta – arrived in supple sheets with a generous portion of duck leg confit seasoned with clove, salt and pepper, plus sweet pearl onions and roasted tomatoes. Fresh picked herbs – sweet cicily, chives, lovage and oregano – completed the herbaceous plate.

Dessert British Columbia

Our finale arrived in a skillet, featuring hot custard-based rhubarb clafoutis with molten rhubarb chunks and more than a few almonds. A sweet strawberry sorbet quenelle garnished with fresh-picked chocolate mint provided a cool counterpoint to hot, crisp-edged “cake.”

North Arm and the Sturdys provided a valuable visit to their farm, sharing a memorable meal and demonstrating a clear link to how premium produce enters our food chain.

Note: My meal at North Arm Farm was complimentary, as part of a tour hosted by Tourism Whistler.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

What a glorious little rural paradise this couple have created. We love to travel there in summer and unattended, walk into their fields, pick voluminous armfuls of self cut flowers, pick berries and all kinds of veggies. It is a true oasis, under the magnificent wonderment of Mount Currie. Then there is the outside bbq, picnic tables and upright piano, and the bakery and the preserves…Oh my we love going there.

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