Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Plans for the community garden and our veggie plants for the food banks are underway. Will you help? Can we help you? Let us know what you think and any ideas you have and your favourite garden recipes. We want to make 2017 our best sharing year ever.
Here's the problem.
Many people in the local area eat a highly processed diet with few veggies. This can be due to preferences and cooking skills, lack of access, food bank use which typically means food with a good shelf life, or lack of knowledge on how to grow a garden. We believe that a diet full of fresh veggies and frozen produce in your freezer can make you not only feel better but be genuinely healthier. And we want to help.
Here's the vision.
We rototill the community garden area and start a collection of seeds and transplants for people who either can't afford them, don't have a place to grow, or maybe they just need a hand up. Allotment growers do all planting and weeding, we will water during the week.
People carpool, catch a ride or take the bus and walk to the community garden at the farm on a nice Saturday morning. There's a festival feel as everyone grabs tools from the tool shed and heads out into their plots to see what's grown since the last time they were here. Each allotment is different from its neighbours with peas, beet greens, lettuce and some exotic things not seen before. Each family or person tends their own little garden space, pulling weeds and thinning radishes until it's to their liking and then they lean on a shovel for a visit with their next plot neighbours. The community area is planted with lettuce that are ready for harvesting so they organize themselves into a small pick/pack crew and a wash crew. Everyone works together and splits the community produce between them with the extras being put in boxes in the cool room for the food bank. It varies each week. Some weeks it's planting, some weeks different people come, but every week it's productive and people leave feeling they've done something good. Seniors teach children how to plant, mums and dads trade recipes, and everyone learns a little. We teach approximately 20 young people from all over the world about gardening each year and they most often go on to grow food and teach others. They live with us and work in the garden then they go home and adapt what they learned to their own lives.
Idealistic? Maybe. Idyllic? Certainly.
We believe that by giving people plants, seeds and skills we can improve health and food security for everyone in our community but especially for families and seniors. Everyone can grow a little food. Everyone can eat a little better. Everyone can be a little healthier.
That's our goal, a garden in every yard. And where yards aren't available, allotments. If the town and municipality could designate community garden space we feel that the potential benefits are huge in terms of health, social connectedness and community spirit, and food security. Give people a chance to lift themselves out of poverty or at least have a better and healthier life. It'll take time, it'll be hard work, but the benefits to the community and healthcare over the long term are great.
We weren't able to get our local town interested in supporting a farmers market which is why we've been operating in a neighbouring town for the past 3 years but I'm still hopeful the support will be there for a garden/food program. Please share any feedback and advice. And happy gardening in 2017.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
One of the things I'm making for the nursery this year are handmade baskets for my hanging flowers. I'm still waiting for the chance to cut rushes and reeds but in the meantime I thought I'd experiment with various ropes and schooner line to see what works. I made one basket that measures 8" tall and 7" across at the mouth, so it's not huge. It took 15' of 3/8 rope and 116' of 3/16 so it cost me approximately $9 in materials and just over an hour in time. It's certainly sturdy though a little rough looking and it will hold one of my potted plants nicely. For a hanging basket it will need to be wider at the bottom. But hey, it's just an experiment. I also tried a subtle pattern but it just looks a bit messy. Food for thought though 🙂.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
The snow came down, our main green house came down because of it, and spirits went down as a result. But not for long. Steve quickly got to work assessing the damage and shovelling the snow off. He made sure the contents (equipment & resident chickens) were okay and then started coming up with plans for repairs. It looks like the metal frames are pretty much toast at this point except for the end walls. We can still salvage some of it though. And hopefully the plastic is fixable with the application of lots of clear UV resistant tape. The other greenhouse structures have wooden frames with more steeply pitched rooflines so they shed snow really well. It's definitely a design we'll keep using. For now though the planning continues for the 2017 growing year, new markets and further growth of the farm. Today is sunny and we've warmed from -19 Celsius to +1. Yay! All the cats are camped out on windowsills snoozing in pools of sunlight. I know how they feel. The sunshine makes me feel all warm and happy too.
Hope your new year is great so far.
Monday, January 2, 2017
Here, as promised, is our new logo. Happy New Year!
Plans are underway for expansion of the nursery and greenhouses so that entails not only extra supplies which will make Kerwin, my local Co-Op feed supplier happy, but also means it's barely the new year and already the seed catalogues have been out on the table for a couple of weeks and I've arranged my apple and sweet potatoe orders already. Next it's a seed order from West Coast Seeds and arranging to buy fruit bushes and trees. It seems odd to many people that so much work and planning happen at what is essentially the beginning of our worst winter weather, but we want to be able to get the varieties we want before everyone else orders them, and we need seeds on hand along with soil, pots, fertilizer so we are ready to get going in February and March. In order to have produce ready for May we're starting things 60-90 days ahead, and the timing for bedding plants varies too so we get our calendar and work backwards from the date we need either seedlings or plants for harvest.
Another change this year is that veggie boxes will be available for pickup at the farmers markets we attend, at our farm stand and for local delivery. No CSA this year per se. Instead you can order ahead but you'll just meet me at the market and pay me on the day of delivery. I think many customers will find that easier than coming up with the money in advance and we will be at several markets so we're easy to find.
Also available will be a beautiful and eclectic mix of garden art from myself and my mums at Prairie Wind Creations. Stained glass, garden whorls, wind chimes, I'll post pics but I encourage you to like and follow us both on Facebook and watch for giveaways and other prize packs as the nursery season begins in April, weather depending. The only thing better than getting something you love, is getting it for free!
Well, that's all for this week folks. May you have a delicious, happy, productive and love filled 2017.
All our best wishes, Elizabeth, Stephen & Family