Community Skills

The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” seems to apply to a farm as well. It takes a good team of people, who have a range of skills and personalities, to make a farm work. You would think the main skills needed on a farm are field production related, like planting, cultivation, and harvesting. Other examples are equipment operation, livestock management, or trades like carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical. On our farm, welding is a super important skill when implements break or need to be modified. These are skills often learned by kids growing up on farms, but where are these farm kids when we have so few farms?? Where are the grandparents who can take time to teach? Machinery operation is often a hard skill to master without a lot of practice. How about backing up trailers? Very hard to do, and not many people are good at it. How do people get practice unless they grow up doing it??

Some of the social skills are as important as the hard farming skills. Examples would be: the ability to organize and lead a group in work activities; the ability to get along and put differences aside; the ability to delegate tasks, or train new people in farming activities. Having a sense of humour helps too.

If someone living on the farm does not have a needed skill, relationships with people in the community who are willing to share it is important. Thankfully, there are still people in our community who are experienced and skilled in many ways. These people are so important! Our neighbours are constantly keeping us from falling on our face. One neighbour noticed us excavating for a geothermal greenhouse. He drove in and gently asked, “do you think that location has enough drainage?” Sure enough, after the greenhouse was built, we had to get the excavator back, dig under the greenhouse, and lay crushed rock to improve drainage. I wish we’d heeded his warning. In cases like this, we like nosy neighbours. Next time, hopefully, we’ll listen.

We also need people who are ‘connectors’. Like Rob at the local store. He’s the one we go to in order to find services in the community or second hand items. He knows everyone!

The farm needs people who know how to nurture plants and people. The farm team members, who work so hard doing difficult work, sometimes under difficult conditions, need to feel held and cared for. Since we eat common meals at lunch most days, cooking has become very important. Especially being able to quickly put together a meal for a lot of people (6-14) using farm-grown ingredients! Eating these farm lunches together every day has become a big reason people want to work here.

There’s no point growing produce if it doesn’t get out to people who want to eat it. Of course, to sell the produce we grow, we need people who are good at getting people excited about vegetables. People who are good at displaying and selling produce are integral to the team. The vegetables just sell themselves, right?? Not. It is true, we need people to run the Warehouse Market, and talk to the public about how to cook and enjoy the vegetables we grow. They are the farm ambassadors. The Market team has to have so many people skills as well as a passion for sharing recipes and food knowledge.

People with entrepreneurial skills are a rare breed, and hard to find. The ability to see opportunities, follow up with customers, or know when time spent is going to yield a return on investment is special.

BTW, we are hiring for two positions! One at the market and one at the farm. Both will start around May 1st. If you or someone you know might be interested, please email David ( with a resume, letter of intent, and two references.

Farming through the winter months takes a special kind of person. Not everyone can handle the cold.
A lesson in welding at the end of a work day
Washing, packing, and loading a day’s harvest takes muscle, grit, and very good spatial reasoning.
Working as a team. The ability of a group of people to complement, support, and lift each other up is so important to the success of a farm. The farm team is taking time to learn from mistakes, and make recommendations for improvements in the next year.
Maintenance. If you don’t put time and resources into maintenance, you will inevitably end of paying for it in breakdowns and down time.
Warehouse Market at the height of summer. Steph and the Market team do an amazing job with creating the best displays possible
Horticulture. The entire Abundant Acres team learned how to prune, lower, lean, and harvest tomatoes. We are still learning so much!!
Every spring there is a tractor safety session with the whole team
This is the seedling greenhouse after a windstorm. This greenhouse needs to be rebuilt quickly, before we need the space for all the seedlings in May. Construction of greenhouses that withstand extreme weather is a very important and specialized skill, or I should say, set of skills.
Marshall, Robin, and Jen (not pictured) each contribute a great deal of experience and tenacity to the administration team at the farm. This is a thankless and often unseen job, but so important for smooth operations!!
Building and carpentry skills are needed almost every day

2 thoughts on “Community Skills

  1. thank you Jen, brilliant article , it captured the hard work and the loving community and knowledge that you and David have put into your Abundance Acres Elinor

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