Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Celebrating Earth Day every day

Happy Earth Day everyone! Makes me remember a couple of Earth Day t-shirts that I used to pull out especially to wear on April 22 when I was a teenager...may even still have them in a box somewhere. Strangely enough, these days, Earth Day creeps up on me and I'm reminded to recognize it when I hear it mentioned on the radio or see it in my Facebook feed. Times have certainly changed, as being a farmer means I am constantly reminded, by my surroundings and my vocation, how important the Earth is to all life.

It's been a strange sort of winter. I've been busy with all sorts of projects and even a part-time job (as a tax preparer for March and April). On the one hand, I'm immersed in all things related to agroecological farming, food sovereignty and social justice issues, and on the other, I'm in a tax office crunching numbers and talking with a majority of people who rarely, if ever, think of farming. It has been a good reminder that a large part of the general population is not thinking about the source of their food, how it's grown, or where it will come from in the future. I've seen statistics that say that only 1% of the population would sign up for a vegetable CSA membership. For the first time in years, selling the farm's vegetable CSA subscriptions has been harder than usual, possibly because I've already hit the 1% of my personal contacts who would be willing to try it out.

I also read Naomi Klein's 'This Changes Everything' in the deepest, coldest part of this winter, and found myself often crying over passages, not because the information presented was new to me, but because the aggregation of so many items of concern into one place was almost too depressing to read all at once. And what she calls for, a complete social revolution, seems impossible. But it shouldn't be. I decided to become an organic farmer, and I'm starting my 7th growing season at the farm, which is actually my 8th season farming if you count 2008 when I was at Everdale. Life is good. I absolutely love my vocation and excitedly celebrate each seed that I see with an emergent root, which definitely makes my partner laugh and say that I am clearly in the right profession. It's hard work and by societal standards, I'm cash poor, but I have a joyful life and feel no guilt for how I make my living.

Is revolution, change, really so scary and impossible to contemplate? Are we so tied to our cell phones, cars, house mortgages and daily takeout coffees, that we can't break free to a new model that doesn't give corporations more rights and powers than human beings? 2015 is a federal election year. We should ask all candidates how they will combat climate change, decrease child poverty, empower and safeguard women from abuse, guarantee minimal living incomes to everyone in our society. Don't get pulled in by one note campaigns decreasing taxes. It's not about decreasing taxes, it's about using the tax money to create the kind of society that we want to be a part of, one where no one is left behind. Or if you have a beef with centralized government, be active in your local communities. Write letters, speak up at municipal council, attend public meetings about all the things that affect you in the area. Join or form a group that reaches out to those who need help around you.

Unless that's not the kind of society that you want. Which I can't believe. When interacting with anyone one on one, rich or poor, rural or urban, I haven't met anyone who wants others to starve and die so that they can live. Yet, this is the world we live in.

Working on tax files this year, it has been proven to me that indeed, it is actually the people with the least income who are the most generous with what money they have. Their generosity has touched my heart. If proportionally, everyone were to be as generous, societal revolution would be beyond funded. If our tax and private dollars went towards researching and developing non-fossil fuel or nuclear forms of energy use, we wouldn't have to wash tar off sand as an industry. There's a movement for companies to divest themselves of any fossil fuel investments...can you do the same in your RRSPs/RIFs, TFSA's, investment accounts? These are small steps, but they're steps towards making Earth Day, every day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Time to sign up for a vegetable CSA membership! is still really cold outside! Today, the temperature isn't in the -20C's, but the wind is blowing forcefully from the south, which is the least sheltered side of my house. The wood stove is blazing but that wind really makes for cold drafts :p So, it's in such weather conditions that I've been updating the farm's vegetable CSA brochure, and here it is!

A major change for 2015: I'm moving from a 20 week season to 18 weeks, so 9 deliveries instead of 10. The cost is still $400 for the season, so you'll get more vegetables on average per week than previous seasons (around $40, from $35). I made the change to 18 weeks from 20 because for the past few years, starting the season has been difficult (late, cold and wet springs) and hard frosts have been coming earlier (mid-Sep. instead of mid-Oct!).

Also, I hope that my perennial sunchokes (aka Jerusalem Artichokes) are now firmly established, so they will be in fall packages. Last year was the first time I harvested them and they were delicious :) This year, I will also be planting a full bed of sprouting broccoli/Gai lan as I tested out a few varieties last year to get a feel for their taste, tenderness and rate of growth, so hopefully there will be bunches of them in the early summer packages.

To mitigate against another wet year, I will also be making a few raised beds on the vegetable field this year. I'm hoping they will act as berms on the north end of the field to divert water more to running around the field instead of pooling on it. And I will use these raised beds to plant peppers and eggplants to take advantage of the extra heat they will offer.

If it's a dry year, the new pond, dug last fall, will provide irrigation water. And the berms surrounding the pond will be planted with pollinator friendly plantings to provide as much new habitat for insect life as possible. The plan is to sow the open ground with a combination of white clover, pollinator friendly perennials and self-seeding annuals, as well as planting flowering shrubs and fruit trees. The goal is to have flowers (and thus nectar and pollen!) available from spring right until winter. It's very exciting to be a part of wildlife habitat enhancement :D

There's much more planning to do, but the seed orders are in (and mostly arrived) and bales of organic potting mix are being ordered in preparation for seed starting. Hard to believe this will all be happening soon...I really hope this bitter cold doesn't carry on for much longer!