2014 is the fourth year of our adventure into vegetable farming. Back in 2011, Brad and I quit our office jobs, sold our house in Ottawa and moved to Wakefield to get our hands in the dirt. We were driven by the desire to contribute more directly to environmental protection, sustainable food systems, and community building in our region. And also by a nagging doubt that we could sit at our desks for the next thirty years without losing it.
Over the next three years we helped to start up and manage small organic vegetable farms in Wakefield, Chelsea, and at the Just Food Farm in Ottawa. It’s been a crash course in vegetable production, business start-up and administration, direct marketing and partnership building. Our first child arrived along the way, into the heat of tomato and pepper season. We have been lucky to learn from many amazing farmers in our region, who welcomed us into their network even as we became their competition. Each project has taught us valuable (and sometimes difficult) lessons and introduced us to wonderful people. And every season, we can see, touch, smell, taste and share the results of our efforts. It’s been a roller coaster ride, but we got hooked.
After three start-up projects in a row, we were looking for a long-term farming opportunity where we could invest in scaling up to a viable business, and where our family could also put down some (figurative) roots. Land around Ottawa is expensive and difficult to come by as a new farmer, let alone the infrastructure and inputs needed to start a business. Brad’s parents had owned property in Jasper, near Smiths Falls, for several years, but we had never seriously considered farming it due to poor soil conditions.
Taking the ‘work with what you’ve got’ approach, we did extensive research and examined alternative business models that could work on the property. In the fall of 2013 Brad wrote a funding proposal for a heated greenhouse system that would allow us to significantly extend our growing season, while concentrating production in a small area where we would build up the soil. When his proposal was approved the next spring, and with his parents’ support, we decided to take the leap and go for it.
We started working on the farm this spring, and moved here in July. There is a LOT of work to be done building a new farm from the ground up, but it is a labour of love, and hopefully will provide us with a sustainable livelihood. Since the beginning of this journey, we have been supported in countless ways by our families, as well as an incredible network of friends, colleagues and farmers. We are so grateful for this, and as our farm grows, we look forward to becoming a place where others can find inspiration, learning and nourishment.
Stay tuned to our blog to see the construction of our greenhouses and other infrastructure, the fall harvest of field crops and our initial greenhouse growing season. We hope you will connect with the farm in some way, whether it’s joining our Winter CSA, visiting us or reading our blog. We are very excited to get our business up and running and look forward to bringing you some delicious local food very soon!