Who We Are
We are a young family living out our dream! Brea Segger and Todd Howard quite simply want to contribute positively to their community and the planet while celebrating the simple joys of nature. To help us achieve this, we purchased Ravenhill Herb Farm in 2014. We care for this land so it provides nourishment for our family and community and improves in ecological health for future generations to enjoy. We use only sustainable and organic practices in our farming and are eager to support others to do the same.
Where We've Been
Brea and Todd are partners in Pacific Rim College (PRC), a leading school of holistic medicine and sustainable living in Victoria, British Columbia. We met working for a non-governmental organization in Tanzania where Todd and a few PRC students were providing acupuncture services. Brea was there teaching business skills, using expertise she gained from successfully running a business consulting organization.
With Todd serving as the college's President and Brea as the Operations Director, PRC has educated thousands of students from around the world in natural healing modalities. PRC has garnered numerous honours over the years including Vancouver Island 'Professional Business of the Year' in 2016. With programs in herbal medicine, acupuncture, holistic nutrition, doula training, and permaculture design, a herb farm seemed like the perfect fit.
Where We're Going
Geographically, not very far. Ravenhill is our dream farm. We are carving out a community-focused life that values ancestral knowledge and ecology.
We are dedicated to continuous learning and realize that although the learning curve is at times steep when it comes to tending to our farm, it also hold many wonderful surprises. We are so excited to be living this adventure and to be able share it with the community! We are loving every minute!
We care for this land so it provides nourishment for our family and community and improves in ecological health for future generations to enjoy.
History of Ravenhill Farm
This historical summary has been compiled from extensive research, various archives written by past Ravenhill owners such as Andrew Yeomen and Colleen Croll, and from records of conversations with Nora Thomson and a few other past residents. Helen Thomson had also passed along photos over half a century ago that consist of lovely memories from the 1920s.
In 1865 the first schoolhouse on the Saanich Peninsula was built on 4-acres that is now part of Ravenhill. The schoolhouse closed in the mid-1870s and no physical evidence of the school's existence remains.
In 1912 Walter Thomson, the third son of William Thomson (pioneer of Bannockburn), returned from South Africa after the Boer War and was given this land by his father where he built what remains today of the basement and farmhouse. The land had likely been cleared at a much earlier date, around 1900 by William Thomson. Walter kept some dairy cows and a team of horses, and he helped out at Bannockburn. One of the daughters, Peg, acted as a housekeeper, and it appears that they had servants.
In 1928 the property was sold by Walter Thomson to Colonel Douglas. Douglas started on major house expansions. A wooden tennis court was completed that overlooked Brentwood Bay. In the basement slept the Chinese cook, taking opium to ease the pain of the cold and damp winter and restrictions of his life (poor soul)!
In 1940 George Westinghouse III bought the property from Colonel Douglas’s son Ian. George was the sole hier of his father’s self-made fortune, one of the greatest in the world at the time, valued around $50 million. George Westinghouse II invented the railway air brake at 23 years of age and would go on to hold 361 patents. After helping to spearhead alternating current, he would grow the Westinghouse Electric Company to be a household name.
George Westinghouse III bought Ravenhill and presented it to his son Aubrey as a wedding gift. Aubrey and his wife Connie named the farm Hawk Barrow, a name which held until it was replaced by Ravenhill in 1979. The Westinghouses leased the land in front of the house to a bulb grower Aubrey Westinghouse left a delightful photo of children using the tennis court as a play field.
Between 1948 and 1968 this land seemed to have had a great deal of owners. At certain points it was a guest house and also a home for children with various problems.
In 1968 Bob and Colleen Croll purchased the property and started major reconstruction of the house. They removed the 3rd floor attic and completely changed what was a “farm house” structure to the flat roof mansard structure that remains today. The old basement, much of the floor plan, and a number of internal walls were left intact. The remains of the crumbling tennis court were burnt.
In 1979 Noël Richardson and Andrew Yeomen purchased the property and started with major changes to the garden. As they gazed at old photos of the property, Noël and Andrew realized they were actually changing the gardens to be more of reflection of what existed in the 1940s.
In September 2014 Brea Segger and Todd Howard purchased Ravenhill Herb Farm. We are partners in Pacific Rim College in Victoria, a leading school of complementary and integrative medicine that among other things offers programs in herbal medicine and holistic nutrition.