Nestled in on the Naramata Bench, surrounded by wineries and cideries, Plot Twist Farms began in 2017 by Karla Cox and offers sustainably grown fruits and vegetables on half an acre. The farm is small but impactful, growing each year with support from the community.
I aim to create a balance with nature to allow the ecosystem to thrive by making small adjustments and encouraging a multitude of species to coexist, recognizing that biodiversity creates resilience. – Karla Cox
Cox uses biodynamics to influence when she plants and harvests on the farm and applies an agroecological method to growing food. She says, “My introduction to farming came through a love of permaculture.” There are no chemical soil amendments, pesticides, insecticides or other harmful practices used to grow food. The goal is to create balance with nature and allow natural ecosystems to thrive. Cox says, “I aim to create a balance with nature to allow the ecosystem to thrive by making small adjustments and encouraging a multitude of species to coexist, recognizing that biodiversity creates resilience.” Plot Twist is hyper-local, no-till, and uses mulching, composting, and inter-planting practices to create a diverse system. The farm is home to chickens and bees, adding to the diverse varieties of annuals and perennials.
Climate change is a challenge for farmers across BC and requires adaptation and resilience. Cox says, “[In 2021] we had a heat dome, [in 2022] it’s been cold and rainy. You always have to be adaptable, think on your feet and change what your plan is.” Climate change is pushing farmers to think about solutions and mitigation, reducing emissions in agriculture. Cox says, “Climate change means creative solutions close to home.” For Cox, that means supporting local farmers who are farming sustainably and educating the community on growing food. Cox says, “I think food security and sustainability is the key to getting through [climate change]. Empowering people in your community to grow and harvest and sustain their families is key to that. So there’s less reliance on fossil fuels to get your food to you.”
Plot Twist focuses on producing local for their community as a climate adaptation and mitigation strategy. Cox also uses several agroecological and permaculture techniques on the farm to reduce emissions. She says, “We don’t have any carbon emissions because we don’t till anything.” She implements creative mulching techniques to combat weeds and protect the soil so she doesn’t need to till.
At the beginning of her farming journey, Cox says, “We covered the entire farm in cardboard. Then we got pine wood mulch, made paths, and used six inches of local compost as our beds. We covered the whole thing over winter, and that’s what we do every year.” She doesn’t redo the cardboard and that amount of compost every year, but is always adding a little bit of organic matter each year. She says, “We’re never tilling the soil, so we’re never releasing the carbon or activating weed seeds that are dormant in the soil.”
Permaculture is about working with nature and the natural elements to solve problems and create a robust and resilient system. She says, “Creating a safe space for nature to flourish, I think, is what we really do to help the climate and help the environment. It’s not figuring out what the problem is and then just eliminating it. The goal is to try and have balance.”
Diversity is a key component of any permaculture or agroecological system and understanding that each component is interconnected will payoff for farmers. Cox says, “Any time you have a system that’s relying on one or two things going right, you’re screwed. You have to think like nature and understand that a pear tree doesn’t grow by itself in nature. It’s providing at least two or three services. Habitat for birds, fruit for people to eat, and shade for the plants underneath it. And, the roots are holding in moisture and nutrients.”