David and I were gone the whole week. Missed everything. We pulled out Friday afternoon and returned Wednesday at 6pm. I got no pictures of farm activities, or harvest. The farm team took care of everything. The weekly planting, equipment maintenance, trellising, harvesting, weeding, random drop-in customers, and dealing with any other issues that arose without warning. On our way home we picked up ice cream and gelato to thank them and celebrate their week without us. Seems we are not needed, and you know what that means: we can take off again!
It’s a bizarre thing to do: take off in the middle of the growing season when you are a farmer. We were invited to a special gathering in Vermont called FROZEN GROUND, organized by Sandy and Paul Arnold. They put together a group of 25 farmers who produce and sell all year round. We had to gather in July because now is the time to prepare for, and start some of those special cold-tolerant crops. Since we run our market all year and sell produce all through the cold season, and since Sandy and Paul visited our farm last fall to check out our climate battery greenhouse (thanks for bringing them Shannon and Bryan of Broadfork Farm), they invited us.
On our way to Vermont, we visited one of our most favourite farms in the Maritimes, Isaac and Stephanie Villeneuve’s livestock and vegetable operation near Florenceville NB. I first met Isaac’s family when I was doing organic certification inspections in the 90s. Isaac was 10 years old, the eldest of an impressive line-up of Villeneuve children who were all home-schooled and brought up farming. I was so impressed with this family, their prayers, their faith, their incredible work ethic, their innovations, their super-busy farm stand at the Fredericton Market, their entrepreneurial know-how, the bi-lingual children who all started lessons at 5am, the amount of cloth diapers hung up on the clothesline. I always wanted to do inspections at the Villeneuve farm because I learned so much every time I went there.
Isaac, along with his wife Stephanie, now have 5 children. The youngest, Amber, is only 2 months old, and is being cared for by the whole family. Their oldest daughter Mandy is now a very mature and self-possessed 10 year old. Isaac had to spread some manure, so we worked with Stephanie and the kids to start some mushroom logs. Their son Caleb went up to the woods with David to collect the logs and bring them down to the barn in the trailer. Caleb is a seasoned farm worker who, like his dad, can take care of a lot of equipment issues and livestock chores. It is easy to forget he is only 8.
We had a fabulous visit with them, and reluctantly left for Vermont after two days. If you are at the Fredericton Market, it is worth visiting their stand. We will share more of what we learned in Vermont in a later post.