photos by anne lawrence
Busy raising their children on a quarter acre lot in east Vancouver, Mark and Cherie Sturtevant always knew they wanted to build a family enterprise. Having read and embraced the principles in Sally Fallon’s groundbreaking book, Nourishing Traditions, Cherie prepared almost all of her family’s food from scratch, but lacked land on which to grow that food. Daughter Heidi says that viewing the 2010 film documentary Food, Inc. was a “game changer” for the family. They wanted a deeper involvement in the production of their food.
Guided by Mark’s entrepreneurial spirit, the family began a yearlong search for land. In early 2011 Mark and Cherie purchased 34 acres with a large home in Brush Prairie, where the family of twelve founded Botany Bay Farm.
That same year, daughters Heidi and Sarah, along with sons Joe and Caleb, and Sarah’s husband Camden, traveled to Swope, VA., for a day-long educational tour of Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm. Cherie and Mark, along with sons Joshua and Christian, toured Polyface Farm in spring of 2013. From Salatin, they learned firsthand about rotational grazing and holistic farm management as a method to raise healthy animals and nutritious food without chemicals in a symbiotic relationship with the land. The three siblings returned to Brush Prairie overflowing with new knowledge and enthusiasm.
The Sturtevants planned the layout, cleared out overgrown blackberries, customized existing outbuildings, added and repaired fencing, and built movable structures for animal housing. In spring of 2012, the family launched a website and began selling to local consumers. The farm’s beef, pork, chicken, rabbit, eggs and lamb are all raised on pasture without hormones or antibiotics. Their supplemental feed is non-GMO and soy-free. They graze following a rotational cycle that regularly moves the animals to fresh pasture. No chemical pesticides or herbicides are used on the farm.
At Botany Bay, each family member works at his or her specialty. Daughter Sarah created the website. Son Joe, a computer science major, keeps the computers running smoothly. Heidi is responsible for marketing, and Caleb is the general manager, assisted by John. Maria creates the farm’s line of natural bath and body products. On harvest days, the entire family works together preparing the meat for their local consumers.
Daughter Heidi shared her love of the family enterprise: “One of the things I appreciate most about living on the farm is the many opportunities we have to work together as a family, whether it’s getting our hands dirty in the field or solving problems around the dinner table.”
Botany Bay Farm chicken and other meats can be preordered for pickup at the farm. The next pork harvest is scheduled for late October. Their whole fresh chickens are also available at Chuck’s Produce and New Seasons Market.
Botany Bay Farm
13513 N.E. 132nd Ave., Brush Prairie