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History

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This beautiful property at the end of Jackson Rd has inspired many a dream over the past 130 years.

Fairburn Farm is a third generation family farm in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, Canada.  Homesteaded in the 1880s and some of the original dwellings are still in use today. We have never used preventative antibiotics or growth hormones. Environment, Animal Health and Sustainability are all held in great importance.

(EARLY YEARS) Fairburn was owned by John and Mary Jackson and their two sons, Edwin and Basil. As a widow Mary farmed with assistance then married Charles Doering a multi-millionaire who died in 1936.  Mary lived at Fairburn until 1949.  The 1200 acre property was purchased by the forest company MacMillan Bloedel leaving 130 acres of farm and buildings for resale.

(FIRST GENERATION ARCHERS) In 1954, Mollie and Jack Archer were seeking land on which to begin  the Vancouver Island Organic Cooperative and settled at Fairburn, a neglected property, with their teenage children, Chris and Lynne and 6 year old son, Darrel.  The senior Archers were pioneers of conservation, farming the land naturally, instilling a sense of true land stewardship in their children.  The Cooperative dissolved and the Archers augmented farm income with children’s camp throughout the 1960s and Western Riding Stables.  Darrel trained as a farrier in Texas and practised his trade on the farm and throughout the Cowichan Valley. Darrel has an affinity with animals generating mutual respect.

(SECOND GENERATION) Darrel continued farming and married Anthea, a Lancashire lass who had spent annual holidays on farms in England.  Darrel and Anthea continued the natural philosphy of farming. Darrel has lived at Fairburn for 55 years and recognizes seasonal changes on a historical level for weather variations, changes in the creek flow, fish habits and habitat and tree growth and losses in the surrounding forest land.

In 2000, Darrel and Anthea imported a herd of 18 River Water buffalo from Denmark, the first water buffalo herd in Canada. Although they cleared all inspections and regulations, a case of BSE was found in a cow in Denmark, and the Archer’s herd was issued a death order. After two years of court battles, Darrel and Anthea lost the case and the original herd was destroyed. When the results came back negative, the Archer’s were able to continue with the offspring born on the farm. In 2005, Darrel and Anthea chose to focus on their dairy herd, and moved from the farmhouse to a new house on the property, leasing the farmhouse to Mara Jernigan who ran a successful culinary retreat and guesthouse for six years (known as Fairburn Farm Culinary Retreat and Guesthouse).

In 2008, two of Darrel and Anthea’s six children, Maryann and Richard, returned to work on the farm alongside their parents, sharing a similar passion for the water buffalo. The milk is sold to Natural Pastures Cheese Company in Courtenay where it is made into delicious Mozzarella di Bufala and other tasty cheese products.

(THIRD GENERATION) Maryann and Brett, with sons Mason and Marshall, operated Fairburn Farmstay and Guesthouse from 2011-2015.

Richard, Alicia and their twins, Hudson and Delilah, have moved to Quebec where the Water Buffalo industry is thriving.

Darrel and Anthea are operating the farm and overseeing the Guesthouse where Jean-Nicolas, Valdilia and Victor are welcoming guests.

130 years of hard work and love continues.

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