30073 Centre Road
Strathroy, ON, N7G 3H7
Canada

519-719-7253

Blog

Fair Finance Fund

Kim Barker

On the 1st of March, we received a loan from the Fair Finance Fund! This is a big milestone for our farm, and we are so pleased to have received this help from such a fabulous organization. The Fair Finance Fund provides loans and mentorship services to local food and farm enterprises that value strong local food systems, local economies, and a healthy planet. Access to capital is a large barrier for many farmers (including us!), so this is the kind of financing enterprise our local food system needs! We are very excited to be involved with the Fair Finance Fund. Learn more about them here https://fairfinancefund.org/

So what will we use this loan for?

  • A new well and pump. The well and pump that serves the house doesn’t have the capacity to provide irrigation for our field. (We also received a grant from the Carrot Cache to help with this, which is another super cool organization you should check out).

  • A new hydro pole – to serve our electricity needs (until one day when we can go solar??)

  • 3 greenhouses/hoophouses (it was going to be two but because of location/size issues we divided them into three). One will be a propagation house for our seedlings, one will be for tomatoes/peppers/eggplants, and one will be for season extension, which means spring/fall greens primarily.

  • A wood-burning outdoor furnace to heat our hoophouses in the spring. We’re excited about this eco-friendly way of heating and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. And we have loads of hawthorn trees on the farm which will be excellent for firewood.

  • A processing station/packhouse. This is a place to store, wash, process, and pack our veggies. Our big plans were to build a barn for our packhouse and storage. As you may know, we took down an old barn for materials to do this. But time constraints and financing has steered us in an alternate direction (for now). We’ll be building a more temporary packhouse to last us a few years until we can build our barn.

  • Other equipment such as insect netting, a new seeder, harvest bins and crates, and marketing materials.

So far, we’ve got the well dug and hydro pole installed. We’ve been busy building our hoophouses and setting up our new furnace (trailers full of wood and hoops, trips to the hardware store, late-night carpentry, drills and bolts, nails and wires, fans and heat exchangers, plastic-pulling parties, muddy boots, dry hands, moments of admiration, frustration, and accomplishment). Only a few finishing touches remain before we can start our seedlings!

Having the capital we need to start up our farm is a big relief and encouragement. Growing a farm is a huge investment. Although we acquired plenty of equipment throughout our years farming elsewhere, we have big infrastructure needs on our new land. Being able to set up this infrastructure right away means we can get started growing in a way that maximizes our efficiency and productivity – and that means we can start working towards a farm that is a big part of our community and a financially viable way of life for us!

Putting up the plastic on our propagation greenhouse!

Putting up the plastic on our propagation greenhouse!

Our outdoor wood furnace. We found it on Kijiji!

Our outdoor wood furnace. We found it on Kijiji!

Our new well - 94 feet deep with a capacity of 25 gallons a minute!

Our new well - 94 feet deep with a capacity of 25 gallons a minute!

Hello, hydro pole

Hello, hydro pole

Autumn

Kim Barker

Well, in blog world, we skipped right over summer. But that’s how it feels in real life, too - summer is over so fast, sometimes it feels like it barely happened.

Above all, this was the summer of our first child; playing, rocking, eating, sleeping, smiling, crying, squealing, grabbing, snuggling, carrying, singing, reading, fretting, laughing, wondering, loving, growing, learning, changing, growing, learning, changing, growing, learning, changing, and loving some more - always, always loving.

Yes, this little one was our summer.

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We did grow a garden for ourselves, enjoying fresh cucumbers and sweet cherry tomatoes, pickling and preserving lots, freezing some things for the winter.

We also did a lot of thinking and planning for the farm.

Now that fall has arrived, we are really gearing up to get things ready for the launch of our farm next season. We’ll be growing a plethora of vegetables to sell at the Strathroy Farmers Market, at a farmstand on the farm, and through an exciting new customizable CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Veggie Box!

To get ready, Alex has been busy in the field making our raised beds, loading them up with composts, and planting in a cover crop so they aren’t empty throughout the winter. The cover crop prevents erosion, helps make various nutrients more available to our future crops, and keeps all the busy microorganisms in the soil happy over the winter.

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80lbs of a variety of garlic known as Music. It grows well in Canadian climates.

80lbs of a variety of garlic known as Music. It grows well in Canadian climates.

We’ll also be planting 80lbs of garlic this fall!

Yes, summer has flown by into autumn. And in our minds, we are already racing towards the upcoming spring. But the change in season also gives us pause - the coolness in the air catching our breath; the bright colours catching our eyes. This spring, summer, and fall were a last rest, a last preparation, before we start farming full time. It’s been a blessing to spend it in this state of dreaming, and soaking in our new roles as parents, the new life that has become our life. Next spring the new adventure of our first farm season in Strathroy awaits.

Spring

Kim Barker

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Spring is seeping into my bones,

getting under my skin,

whispering its promises into my ears,

stirring my blood,

quickening my heart.

The red-winged blackbirds,

touched by this madness too,

are trilling at each other

from the bare branches of the hawthorne trees.

I want to spread my wings too,

and sing to this bright unfolding world.

 

The Best Crop of 2018

Kim Barker

Although we aren't farming officially in 2017, we were busy growing a very important little seed.

Not a vegetable this time, but a human!

Not a vegetable this time, but a human!

We finally got to meet our newest arrival on February 26th. The raw and powerful experience of labour followed by the joy and love we have for this little one left us windswept and overflowing. 

Here is our little Rosemary Iulia. We are so excited to share this wild and wonderful world with her!

On "Waiting" and 2018 Plans

Kim Barker

It's one of those days that first feels like spring. The sun is warm and birds are reveling. As I sit here typing, I am waiting for a different kind of new beginning - I am officially one day past my due date for our first child. 

We've been doing a lot of waiting recently, it seems. Waiting to build our barn, to start planting, to get our farm going again. "Waiting" perhaps isn't the most accurate word though because it implies passivity. We've been far from passive! Getting the farm started again is a lot of work, (and of course we had to throw in a honeymoon and a pregnancy to the mix). Here are some of the things we've been doing while "waiting":

  • Salvaging parts from an old barn
  • Redesigning our website and logo
  • Recreating our business plan
  • Cover-cropping the field
  • Planning our field layout
  • Designing a new barn (for processing and storing our veggies, as well as a farm store and a kitchen)
  • Seeking out permits, engineers, contractors, and financing for our new barn

When we moved to my parents' beautiful property in the fall of 2016, our plan was to start operating our farm in the summer of 2018. But we've decided we need more time to dedicate to building a strong foundation for our operation. The land can use another summer of improving the soil through compost and cover crops. And we currently have no infrastructure in place for storing and processing our vegetables, which is a huge element of our operation. Beyond that, there is the baby I mentioned earlier. So, the summer of 2018 is dedicated to building a barn, improving the soil, planting a garden for ourselves, and taking our first steps into the journey of parenthood. 

While it is a little hard to wait some more before actually growing, I believe we're fortunate to be able to take this time to plan and build the foundations of our farm. The hope is that it will set us up for success when we actually do begin operating our business.

And our plan is to begin operation in the summer of 2019. So stay tuned, follow us on social media for updates, and wish us luck as we enter this next stage of our lives and business!