Sydney

Sydney and Raphaëlle harvesting beets.

The most incredible thing about being on the farm this year is the deep care for this land that courses through every member of the team. Jen, who the farm belongs to, has been here decades. She knows the trees, the forest’s undergrowth, the critters, the sounds. She has walked the paths thousands of times.

The rest of us have been here for no longer than a couple of years. We are all her students. She teaches us to be quiet and observative. Careful and intentional. And the land teaches us to be humble, patient and thankful. They have remarkably similar lessons to share.

My name is Sydney, and I initially arrived here at the beginning of last season to start learning from these wise teachers. I’m from Ojibwe territory of the Robinson-Superior treaty, also known as Thunder Bay, Ontario. In the winters, I run dogsleds there, ski, walk with my dogs, and spend time with my incredible community of family and friends. I arrived back here in Mi’kmaki right smack dab in the midst of the pandemic madness. My partner Justin, who also works at Abundant Acres, and I were so grateful to arrive into a purpose – especially in a time where so many are left without clear direction. This purpose is clear: to feed our community. Justin is
originally from Ontario, but moved to Nova Scotia as a little boy with his family. He has been completely smitten with farming for the past few years – doing a lot of research and development of his own with intentions to open up his own agricultural project someday in the near future. Justin manages planting our high-turnover crops, hoop house construction, and most of our machinery.

Here at the farm, I manage harvest, inventory, liaising with the marketing crew in the city, quality control, and transplants. Many of our transplants go into the Fox & Grape fields, so I spend a lot of time stewarding that area of the farm, and it is an absolute honour. If you’ve ever been to the farm, I’m sure your heart has swelled up and just about exploded at the view from the top of the Fox field – gazing upon the mighty tidal river…eagles and ravens circling above…woodpeckers rattling the surrounding trees.

Although many of the folks on the crew this year are new to agriculture, the flow is so graceful that it feels as if we’ve all been working together for 100 years. We all compliment one another with contrasting – but never clashing – skills, interests and communication styles. So much of this ease comes from each individual’s interest in caring for and working in harmony with the existing ecosystems. A day doesn’t go by where Luke, who hails from Dartmouth, doesn’t teach everyone to identify a new bird or bug. No day goes by without Sarah, from Pictou County, wondering aloud about the possible medicinal uses of a plant that many others would refer to as a weed. And every day we hear a new story from David about a different person who helped to create something amazing here. We all care so much about what was here before and what will be here after. Though our time here may or may not be short, we all sincerely want to make an honest effort to leave the place healthier than we found it. Hopefully, this means that you will all be able to eat these wonderful veggies for years and years to come!

The wonderful cone-shaped caraflex cabbage. (And a few weeds) Cogmagun River in background
Planting beans with the Polyplanter Jr. (Sydney McInnis photo)
Onions in Grape field with cover crops in between. (Sydney McInnis photo)
Beans and peppers in foreground and river in background, Fox field
Sydney and Adriana weeding in Fox field (and then going for a swim in the river at the end of the work day)
Clair and Luke harvesting first few tomatoes
David is making lacto-fermented pickles. White oak or grape leaves can be added to keep them crunchy
Bubbly pickles in foreground, crew in background