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Farm Helpers

When I started working on the Tiny Farm one day a week way back in 2007 I had very little market gardening experience.  I had grown vegetables on the side, but it was purely for my own consumption.  On the Tiny Farm, I was immediately thrown into harvesting, weeding, seeding, tractor driving, etc. with laid back, but helpful instructions.  Mike's relaxed attitude was helpful for my way of learning.  He was relaxed, with a small undertone of 'don't screw it up'.  Which at the time I respected, but didn't quite grasp how important that 'don't screw it up' part was.

Now as I am starting out this growing season, people who have little to no experience have been helping me start all my vegetable babies.  I am so happy and grateful for the help, as it not only speeds up the process, but it also makes the work fun.  The other day when we started our first major seeding of the brassica family (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) I felt it.  I was happy to let Jenny, Maya, and Scotia take the reins with the seeding, but in the back of my mind I was very aware of that feeling:  'don't screw it up'.  Aha moment! I am no long growing a garden for just me, this is my livelihood!  I am growing food as a job, to make money, to fulfill my contract to my CSA members. I am so happy to be teaching people techniques for growing food and of course there will be the occasional mistake.  I just need to be okay with that part, while still maintaining an importance of being a successful grower.  


Peas in Eaves and Posts in Holes

We have found living on west coast brings many a visitor our way.  Most recently our pal Scotia has been staying with us.  He is a carpenter and a very handy guy that is willing to help out on the farm while he is here.  Yesterday, on a beautiful February day I put him to work in the field. As the field is still very wet and mucky I decided to give my peas a jump start by planting them in eavestrough. Once the soil warms and is more workable I will dig trenches and slide the pea babies into the ground.

After our peas were planted the hard work began digging in the posts for the deer fencing on the last 1/2 acre.  The post hole digging went so smoothly with the deep easily dug, mucky soil.  As this property is still so new to me, it felt great spending a day in the field connecting to the land.


Oh Alliums




Garlic garlic garlic… I just love to grow garlic! In the fall I helped my friend Darryl plant garlic in his garden and Steve planted ours out in December. The other day we went on a garlic adventure, to see how they were doing. I was so thrilled to see it coming up in Darryl’s garden as well as in our garden plot at The Commons. Such a delicious crop to grow.

Continuing on with allium family, Maya and I seeded Walla walla and Sturon onions this past week. As i am trying to stay away from plastic we used teeny tiny soil blocks to start our onion babies. Holy labour intensive! I have decided for the rest of my onions that will be started this week I will be using the soil blocks again, but saving time by covering the seeds with vermiculite. Once the seeds have been sown in the blocks I move them to my seeding table Steve has built me. They are placed on a capillary action water mat, so they do not dry out and then they are left to bask in the grow lights. The first seeding of the year has commenced, and it felt great to get my hands back in the dirt.



How much are you willing to pay for local, naturally grown food?

How much are you willing to pay for local, naturally grown food?

Recently Steve and I attended the 1st annual Island Agriculture Show near Duncan B.C. The event catered to mostly larger farms, with speakers and exhibitors. We were really lucky to hear 3 great speakers, that not only gave us things to think about on a small scale farm, but also encouraged us that we were heading in the right direction.
One of the speakers was Gwen Simpson, from Alberta. Her farm is called Inspired Market Garden. This passionate woman’s workshop was called “Are You Charging Enough?” Persuading the public to pay more for your food’. This topic really resonated with me, as this past week I have been working on my market stand and in that working on pricing. I have had conversations with local farmers and even they still find it tricky to price out their food. Pricing looks different out here in BC, as it is more costly than Ontario and our grocery store’s prices are even higher due to living on a gulf island. Does that mean that people out here are more willing to pay a fair price for local food? I have heard there are some people who complain the prices at the farmers market are too high, while others are just so happy to support the local farmers.
Getting back to Gwen, she encouraged farmers to not sell themselves short. She based her presentation around grocery store vegetable facts and stories. Her main two points were to sell the benefits of locally grown food by way of building a story around it and also listening to your clients stories around food. Through her farm Gwen sells many ‘value added products’ to help make her economically sustainable. Products such as teas, herb bundles, and herbal care. Not only tell your story, but get creative with your product. A farmer’s effort and passion for growing good food is worth paying a fair price for.

It's Really Happening!

I have been dreaming of growing food for a living for many years now. So far all the dreaming and planning has felt very surreal. That is until this week. All the seed orders are coming in, the bee order has been placed and the first CSA member has signed up! All that and I decided to make a commitment solely to the farm and uped the size from 1/2 acre to an acre.
This coming week I am working on the garden design and planting dates and learning the ins and outs of starting a small business. Our big upcoming project is macgyvering a hoop house together in the field.
I can’t believe, it is finally really happening!
Photo Credit: Raechelle Vyn