We took over this little run down farm in 2005. she was in pretty rough shape. Soils depleted and actually non-existent in some areas. Fences broken or missing altogether, and the barn and house were falling apart. One outbuilding we tried to save, but it was too far gone from decades of sheer neglect, and we had to replace it.
It has been quite the work in progress, but we could see the potential of this little patch of ground. Just needed someone to care. We still have plenty of work to do, but that is what farm life is all about.
Permaculture....well, I wouldn't call us 'permies' or anything like that, but considering the farm in a holistic way and as an Ecological Unit, the primary principles of Permaculture really speak to us.
Care of the Earth.......Care of the People ( and our animals...they fit here too).....Share in the Abundance.
We share our farm with our four horses, kitties and a demanding bunch of heritage chickens. We have been growing veggies since the beginning in the sandy ground, but with soil building we have expanded our growing areas, and the grasses are coming back in the pastures. We researched the native grasses and plants that used to be here in abundance and reintroduced some of them. Now in our wild meadow areas we have several cultivars come back, tall native grasses and some of the precious endangered birds, pollinators and critters that rely on them.
History and Heritage on our Farm....
It started out as a 'hobby farm' but who knew?
We have a lot going on at our little farm now! A horsemanship program on and off site, our CSA program full speed ahead, plus plans for a small monthly seasonal farm market stand... and the art studio is starting up again! We are a proud member of the Ecological Farmers of Ontario, and we are also a facilities member of the Ontario Equestrian Federation.
Care of the Earth...
We are getting pretty excited over the potential of our growing perennial forest gardens. There are 22 types of fruit so far, planted in guilds. Apple, Pear, Plum, Cherry ,Apricot and Peach.. and then shrubs like Saskatoons, sour cherry, blackberry, tall bush blueberry, raspberry, high bush cranberry and haskaps...with currants and a ground cover of blueberry and strawberry beds. Top it all off with establishing a short row of hazelnuts which we hope will like it here on our farm.
We are caretakers of this land. Keeping spaces for the native plants and the critters that depend on them is incredibly important.
History of place. If we consider the history of our own present stewardship, the people who raised their families here before us, the people who first came and built this farm here, the people who knew this land before that and even the history of the land itself ,(the Oak Ridges Moraine) that is really five layers or more of history tied to this special place.
We are learning a lot about each layer of history including the plants, animals, rocks and minerals, and the special relationship of people to this place.
Heritage plants and animals were developed to nourish and sustain generations who have come before. We seek out the plants and animals created and nurtured to withstand our tough Canadian climate. We also learn about the native plants that the First Peoples and even early settlers relied on for sustainance, and medicines.
Heritage seeds sourced from local seed breeders, or seed that we have saved ourselves have a memory. They adapt to our soils, and to our zone.
We have reintroduced some native plants to our farm. Choosing for example, a rainbow of native flowers to support our pollinators that can be found on the Moraine.
We have heritage chickens for eggs who are bred to withstand the harsh Canadian winters. We also find ourselves very lucky to have two rare Canadian horses.
Care of the People...(and our critters)
We strive to create a holistic management model for our farm that takes into account how all of the seemingly different aspects of the Farm actually become part of the whole.The farm becomes a closed loop ecosystem as much as possible, lessening reliance on outside inputs and reducing our carbon footprint.
The ultimate goal of the holistic model, is to maintain and promote health and wellness of the land and soils, the plants, the animals, and of course... the people!
It is a complex thing that we are working on, but the overall health and long term sustainablility of the farm depends on this success. Creating less work too!
Share in the abundance.
When we get it right, the land rewards us with incredible abundance. Deliscious fruits and vegetables...lots of them! We share with our farm members, our family and friends, plus our local programs.
But we also share in the abundance with our Farm allies. Making sure there is enough habitat and food to sustain our insect eating birds, our overwintering pollinators, and other wildlife means that they all stick around and flourish. Nothing like watch a little bird pick off a pile of caterpillars. I don’t mind leaving some Saskatoon berries for his dessert!
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