It will be business as usual at Sooke’s historic, 34-hectare Woodside farm despite new owners.
Sooke residents Joshua and Mela Perina bought the property from the Wilford family and plan to maintain its farm legacy while at the same time opening it up to the public.
The farm at 7117 West Coast Rd., across the street from the Sooke Baptist Church, had an asking price of $3.75 million.
Peter Wilford, who’s operated the family farm for more than 40 years, will help the Perinas with the farm for the next six months, including harvesting 16 hectares of hay this summer.
“The (farm) sale was inevitable at some point,” Wilford said. “There’s some mixed emotion of selling it, for sure.”
Wilford and his wife, Jeanette, have no firm plans for the future but hope to stay in Sooke.
The farm was built in 1851 by pioneer John Muir and his wife, Anne. Today, it’s the oldest continuously operated farm west of the Great Lakes, according to Sooke Region Museum documents.
Muir and his wife Anne built two houses on Woodside Farm, operating the property as a farm, sawmill and other businesses.
The first house was a one-storey “Woodside” built around 1851. It was replaced later by a classic Georgian-style farmhouse and was home to both John Muir Sr. and John Muir Jr., until 1917.
Swiss farmers Arnold and Rosa Glinz leased the farm in 1917 and three years later bought the property and ran a guest house with the farm. Woodside Farm was purchased by Phillip Wilford in 1947.
The two jewels in the collection include a farmhouse built in 1932 and a Dutch barn.
Joshua and Mela Perina said they bought the farm with the vision of opening it up to the community.
“We’re thinking about creating a public farm where people could come and get fruit and vegetables. We even plan to open a farm stand,” said Joshua.
Plans also include the introduction of a petting farm and a cidery, among other additions.
So far, the couple has created a large garden and is planning for the arrival of four Nigerian pygmy goats and 500 fruit trees in the coming weeks.
“We want to farm. This is agricultural land. We want to do agriculture, and that’s important,” said Joshua.
The Perinas are avid gardeners but don’t have any professional farming experience.
“We definitely feel the responsibility of taking on this property. We know what this property means to this town, and certainly what it could be for this town,” Joshua said.
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