Reflections on Starting to Farm, Part 2

Having returned from BC with a backpack and heart full of new experiences and rich lessons I was ready to settle into the land of lakes and rivers I knew as home.

Shortly after returning to Ontario I began a longer, more in-depth apprenticeship with Tony & Fran McQuail, two organic farming pioneers who built a dream and a home called Meeting Place Organic Farm.  Here I learned alot more about organic gardening, from seed selection to preparing amazing meals and perserves, and every step in between.

I also gained valuable hands-on experience with a variety of livestock, including cattle, lambs, pigs and chickens.   It was during my stay here that I was able to sink my teeth into the idea of continuing to farm for a good long time, and that I started to think and plan about just how to go about doing that.

Meeting Place was part of the CRAFT network, a regional network of farms geared towards farming training.  While apprentices from all of the different farms learned tons through our monthly field days and farm visits.  It was also a super way to network with other young farmers-in-training.  (Anyone interested in farming should check out CRAFT!).

Through this network I met a friend, Jessica, and we decided to start a farm business.  She grew up on a farm and so had access to equipment and help form her dad, and I was keen to see her get started with her dream to continue the family legacy of farming.  So after a few farm visits to some inspiring farms in Ontario and Quebec the plans for Lunar Rhythm Gardens were put together and we were off to the races.

We ran a succesful, 90 basket CSA in the Kawarth region.   Pairing Jessica’s skill with her team of horses who did alot of field cultivation, along with the skills I had picked up along the way, and some unspeakably tremendous help from an apprentice, volunteers, family members, friends, and devoted CSA members, we got the wheel a spinnin’.

One reason I moved back to Ontario from BC was to be closer to my family.  I knew that I would want to farm, eventually with livestock, and this can make a cross-continental travel to see family tricky to say the least.  Ironically, living in the Kawarthas I found it almost as hard to visit my family, since it entailed a 5 or 6 hour drive, and there was no shortage of livestock to care for at the farm.  After some soul searching I realized if I were to settle down on a farm, I’d like that to be close to some of the people who are most important to me.  So, I moved closer to my family.

–               –                 –

Having landed in Meaford, I knew I couldn’t stay in town for too long (once you’ve had the taste of gardening all the time, its hard to go back).

Along my journey’s I had acquired a dog named Wolf – or rather, he acquired me (that is a whole other story I won’t get into right now).  He helped me stay focused on the goal to get back to wide open spaces A.S.A.P.  So, long story short (I’m trying to make this short) one thing led to another and I’ve found myself growing on this farm, not far from the hamlets of Duncan, Redwing and Kolapore.

While neither my partner (in life, not so much in the gardens) or I own this farm, we are both tremendously grateful for the land-owners’ (our neighbours & friends) generosity, tolerance, and huge amount of help.

To put things in perspective, starting a farm is anything but completely rosy and idyllic.  While there are many, many enjoyable parts (and I hope that they continue to outweigh the challenges) heart-aches, disappointments, trials and tribulations are part of the territory.  But I find it doesn’t  help to dwell on these for too long.

All in all, the challenges offer ripe opportunities for growth, and I hope mid season I can  remember this attitude as I work away here at the farm.

Thanks for reading, I’ll try to keep future posts a little shorter!

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