Spapium Little Prairie Farm Case Study

31 Overview of the Business

Location

Spapium “Little Prairie” Farm is a Nlaka’pamux farm situated in a remote location near Lytton, in the Fraser Canyon of BC. It is west of town and the confluence of the Thompson River and Fraser River. To get to the farm, visitors either have to take a two-car ferry across the Fraser River north of Lytton or walk from the train bridge south of town. It is an area that features many trails, and the famous Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park is just a few kilometers from the farm.

History

The farm has been in the family since 1882 and includes water rights that allow for farming on the property. A long tradition of the family interacting with this land has created a special relationship that encourages sustainable farming methods. Technologies and practices are used that are gentle on the land and consider the water resources. It is a healing destination that was left to the current owner by her grandfather.

The farm is run by Paula Cranmer-Underhill, her husband Brian, and daughters Brianna and Danielle. Lytton is their ancestral land, and the farm was originally founded by Paula’s great-grandparents, Kanu and Isobel Thom, who cleared and fenced the land in 1882. Paula, as a multi-generational residential school survivor, grew up in Vancouver and lived for a long time in Chilliwack since her parents and grandparents were not able to continue farming on the land during the residential school programs. Paula moved to the area and started operating the farm near Lytton in 2015.

From the website:

Spapium is located at a historic meeting place, TlkemchEEn. Lytton was an important place of peacemaking in the early history of what is now British Columbia. Guests will leave enriched, not by the gold historically sought on the Gold Rush Trail by others, but by the cultural understandings shared through unique Nłeʔkepmx culture and history experiences on the land facilitated by your hosts.

 

Since the inception of the farm, it joined Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) that helps with the challenges of farming. Starting with farming three acres in 2017, which included a diverse orchard with many different fruit varieties, the owners have since added more land and many fruit trees. The location also provides access to wild foods and medicines, such as elderberry, as well as water access from Nicheyeah Creek. Additional land to expand operations is available.

From the website:

There is a need to get back to the land for physical, emotional, and spiritual health, and farming will provide opportunities to increase personal and community health as well as provide local food security and encourage economic development.

 

Tourists interested in agriculture, the Nłeʔkepmx culture, and the history of the land are educated through the farm’s products, services, and story telling. At the same time, the community—especially the youth—benefits from life skills and knowledge created through the farming.

Paula and her family share their Indigenous background and culture by showcasing special items they can interpret, from food to medicine to cedar weaving, teaching visitors how to make bracelets or ropes, and even offering small basket weaving workshops, passing on the teachings they have received from their family. They also always introduce themselves by naming their parents and grandparents, the traditional way of introduction that determines your “place” in the Indigenous culture.