Village

Farm team at the end of a big harvest: Raphaëlle, Sarah, Eli, Kara, Bethany

It takes a village to raise a child.  I also think it takes a village to run a farm.  As the farm develops, it feels more and more like a small village of people who contribute to making it work.  Two weeks ago, eight people from the Warehouse Market came to the farm to help plant onions.  The masking and social distancing were a little awkward, but it was a beautiful day and everyone was able to eat outside at noon.  To prepare, David was cooking and baking the evening before, serving and making dad-jokes at lunch, and making sure the onions were planted properly.  In addition, he was on the phone, on the walkie talkie, and answering emails all day.  He loves the Warehouse team, and wanted to treat them to traditional middle eastern food and birthday cake.  Meanwhile the eight people who make up the farm crew were working on a long list of tasks for the day.  They had spent days preparing the field for planting, putting up the deer fence, spreading manure, growing the seedlings, seeding the cover of ryegrass and clover in the strips between onion beds.  After the onions were planted, Eli had to get irrigation set up to the field to make sure they got watered in.  Some of the Warehouse team came back to the farm the next Monday to get leeks planted. 

On the farm team are 5 people who live on the farm, and work here full-time.  In addition, there are four people who live in the area and work here full or part-time.  Everyone brings experience from other places that helps this farm work better.

Sean brings forestry, machinery, plumbing, heating, and other experience that have come from  working in the trades and years of homesteading on his large farm down the road.  Every week he  finds something to fix that has been neglected or has resisted our less skilled attempts at repair.  

Colleen brings experience from other small farms in northern NS and western NB with her.  She has also been bringing her radiant smile, and is willing to share a lot of practical advice.  She and her partner have just bought a farm up the road and we’re so so happy they are living nearby. 

Brandon, born and raised in East Hants, has contributed to farm life since the fall of 2019.  He has been our main delivery driver for the past two winters, doing a great job and relieving David of this important, time consuming job.  He has also been one of our main harvesters over the past two winters.  His good natured cheerfulness along with his strength and ability to handle cold weather have been a great addition.

Isabel just started working on the farm this week.  She is bringing experience working on other farms in Ontario and NS.  We can hardly wait to get to know her better and see what she will contribute, but already the team loves her.  

Our live-in farm team is an amazing group of women.  As a group they are tearing through farm jobs in a strategic and organized way.  They are helping each other, lifting each other, teaching, and encouraging each other.  On Thursday nights, they all clean the staff house together.  We can hear music pumping along with lots of laughing over the vacuum as they get the space back in order.  

Eli ran her own farm in the Antigonish area after doing the Marthas New Grower program for two years.  She seamlessly moves from one job to the next and she has bravely taken on the job of setting up and managing irrigation.  We have set up five more hoop houses and rearranged a lot of the supply pipes to most of our fields.  This has greatly increased the amount of farm plumbing we needed to do.  Over the last month, she has gone from needing to be shown the basics to doing everything quickly and well.   

Sarah started in 2020 with no farming experience. Although the learning curve is steep, she is very determined to climb it.  She took on the seedling and nursery work, in the COVID spring of 2020 and aced it right away.  She stayed with us all winter, harvesting greens and taking on a large share of the crop planning.  Now into her second season of managing the seedlings, we are deeply impressed with how well they are growing. Her love of living in the country, and learning all about plants is truly infectious.  This love spreads through the farm faster, and more effectively than any virus.   

Raphaëlle also worked here in 2020.  She is truly a remarkable woman with so much leadership, vision, and intelligence.  She brings experience from very well-run farms in Quebec and is a native of France with another career before falling in love with farming.  She is our field production manager, which means that she organizes what the crew is doing day to day, facilitates communication, and works hard to bring out the best in all of us.  

Kara is brand new to farming, but her job interview consisted of picking beans with David and I.  She was fast!  So we hired her, and we don’t regret it at all.  The greenhouse tomatoes, shoots, and managing the washing and packing of the produce are her responsibilities.  She is no stranger to management from her previous work, and is full of ideas on how to make our work more efficient.

Bethany has experience on many farms, including the one she grew up on in PEI.  She is so bright, and a talented writer.  I hope she will contribute to the farm blog posts!  She has the extremely important job of preparing land for planting.  She is also in charge of growing the ginger and turmeric crops.  We are poised to plant an entire greenhouse full.  Bethany has a great big laugh, and I hope to hear it ringing out from the middle field late this summer as we pick our first juicy ginger.  

Below are a few photos from the farm:

Sean, David, and Brandon dishing out a beautiful farm lunch that David made
Front field produce
Brandon, Sean, and David putting up a hoop house in middle field
Sarah and Colleen weeding carrots
David watering leeks he just planted in the fox field.
Cucumber in the greenhouse
Rainbow over the farm yard