Being a part of the Young Agrarians -- South Interior has opened up so many opportunities. In addition to participating in some fantastic potlucks, connecting with an elder farmer will make it possible for us to repair our combine this season!
A few years ago, Tristan and Kelsey made a trip to the prairies; Kelsey stopping off in her hometown of Vermilion, Alberta and Tristan carrying on to Big River, Saskatchewan to pick up an All Crop 60. What a trip it was. Tristan took a meandering route up to Big River and then intended to make good time on the way back...the only trouble was that the maximum speed at which they could travel, towing such an implement, was about 80 km/hr! Needless to say, it was a 36-hour trip home.
The All Crop 60 will serve Golden Ears as a combine and seed cleaner. Eventually, we hope to grow malting barley and utilize the All Crop to harvest it. Before all that can come to fruition, however, there is a lot of work to be done on it...starting with getting rid of mouse nests galore! Belts need to be replaced, oak connecting rods need repair, and sheet metal work will need to happen.
Thank goodness Golden Ears was introduced to Andrew Heinrichs through a collaborative effort between Young Agrarians and the Armstrong Food Initiative Society. Andrew is a retired grain farmer from Manitoba, who worked 1,500 acres in the 70’s and 80’s. A mechanic and inventor, Andrew now lives off the grid and is building his own recumbent bike from scratch. We’re looking forward to lots more time with Andrew as he and Tristan restore the All Crop 60 to its former glory!
So many wonderful things come out of sharing food together, including safeguarding our valuable land and soil. At a dinner attended by permaculture aficionados in late 2013, it was mentioned that there might be a possibility for young trees to be adopted the following spring. Sadly, the trees would be coming from the agriculture research station in Kamloops, which was closed by the federal government. (http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20130510/KAMLOOPS0101/130519948/-1/kamloops/feds-to-shut-down-ag-research-station)
As the months progressed, there was a wondering about whether this plan would materialize into something -- circumstances change all the time. Well, with a week’s notice, a group of 20 people mobilized to dig up approximately 2,000 trees from the research station on Good Friday. Golden Ears Farm saw many friends there that day and it’s nice to know that these trees are going to good homes.
Golden Ears planted 175 trees (a mix of Red Oak, Chinese Chestnut, and Black Walnut) over the course of only two days -- an excavator and many helping hands make light work! In terms of land stewardship, the intention behind planting these trees was to make a wind block and to create a shaded lane that borders pasture land for our cows. Also, in the long range, if the farm ever needs to supply its own wood, the oak and walnut will provide wonderful hard wood options.
What incredible things are yet to come from the many potlucks that will be happening this season (in addition to time with awesome folks and amazing farm fresh food, of course)? I know I can’t wait to find out!
Here is Tristan discing on our Zone 2 farm as it would be classified if Bill 24 is passed. We don't believe that Bill 24 is being brought forward with the best interests of farmers or food sovereignty in mind.
COABC (Certified Organic Association of BC) has issued an open letter with respect to Bill 24:
"Organic Producers Not in Support of Bill 24
April 10, 2014 - The Certified Organic Association of BC (COABC) is the voice for the organic Agriculture Sector in the province, with a membership of 650 operations across BC. COABC feels there was not adequate consultation with farmers before the introduction of Bill 24 and does not support the loss of agricultural land from the ALR, particularly in the North and Kootenays.
"The highest percentage of acreage in organic production is in the North. If we lose any of our grain producing land in Northern BC it will impact our ability as a province to have agriculture as a high income producer." states Susan Snow, Co-Chair of COABC.
The COABC agrees with the latest statement from the BC Food Systems Network that BC must protect its Northern agricultural land for the food security of the entire province. According to BC Ministry of Agriculture statistics, the province of British Columbia is not even producing 50% of its current food requirements. Areas in the North and in the Kootenays are the only acreages left that can be brought into more intensive production to meet the rising demand for local food.
"We believe that consumers want the cleanest, healthiest food that farmers can grow," Snow proclaims. "Any type of non-farm activity around agriculture increases the possibility of pollution of water, land and air."
In addition, COABC would like to see small parcels of agricultural land embraced and not marginalized. It is not fair that smaller plots of agriculture land need a higher income per acre than larger operations to receive the tax breaks. Many of our members are making their living farming small plots. We can’t afford to be giving away productive or marginally productive land. Once it’s given away, we are not going to get it back."
Welcomes and Strawberries
Two more members of our crew arrived yesterday! Sam and Anne will be joining us for the season from Vancouver. Although that is where they were living most recently, Anne is originally from Ontario and Sam from Scotland. Anne lived in Scotland for 10 years, part of which was spent completing her Master’s degree in Human Ecology. Sam has a solid background as a bike mechanic and we’re excited to see what transpires in the shop this season. The combined brainstorming and experience between Paul and Sam will culminate in some fantastic ideas for the shop -- stay tuned as they are launched!
Sam will be working half-and-half in the bike shop and the market garden, whereas Anne will be farming full-time. Anne brings experience with community gardens in Scotland to Golden Ears and we’re looking forward to a great season ahead. Welcome, Sam and Anne!
Oli and Naomi are back on the farm this season. Oli is focusing his time on completing the straw bale building, the progress on which is beautiful. He has been smoothing over gaps in the cob along with farm friends Johnny and Roz. It is looking fantastic! Naomi will be managing her own garden plot, growing vegetables for winter storage for her and Oli. She was a key helper in planting our new patch of strawberries...it's wonderful to have them back here!
Oh, scrumptious strawberries. Approximately 4,500 crowns were planted -- a balanced mix of four varieties: Benton, Cavendish, Honeyoye, and Kent. The slideshow illustrates the transplanting process from orienting the group, feeding the planter, to having a tail person cover up any exposed roots or fill in gaps. We can’t wait to harvest them next year!
Farm Life These Days
It’s going to be a full house on the farm this season! In addition to the core crew on the farm (Tristan, his sister Annelise, Paul, Kelsey & Pia, Michelle & Avé), we are expecting more babies. In February, we sent our goats to 4 Bar Ranch to get friendly with the billy there. We believe both goats are pregnant, but it’s really hard to tell. We expect to see kids in June sometime.
Two of our cows are also expecting which is great news for us. Our personal milk supply has been lower than usual after April was slaughtered mid-February. Daisy continues to supply 5 litres a day, however she is 15 years old, has been milking continuously for the past few years (yes, you read that right) and probably wants to retire soon!
Mid-March saw 63 chicks arrive on our doorstep. They will be joining our existing flock of 32 laying hens, so watch out! We will have a ton of eggs in the next few months. Final numbers are still being decided, although we are sure to be getting at least 4 weaner pigs this spring.
There is lots of new life on the plant side of things as well. Spinach and radishes have been growing in the greenhouse for a few weeks (fingers crossed that they’ll be ready for the first Kamloops Farmers’ Market on April 19th), in addition to tomato, pepper, cucumber, and lettuce starts that will be transplanted later this spring. Just this week, salad greens (e.g., arugula, mustard and mizuna) were planted in the field. Peas went in today and early corn will be planted tomorrow. Love this time of the season — so much anticipation!
In partnership with TRU, Golden Ears will be growing barley sprouts to use for feed in an effort to determine if the sprouts bring omega 3 fatty acids to optimal levels. Sprout biscuits will mainly be for the cows, however we might split our flock of laying hens to see if their omega 3 levels are different depending on whether they have sprouts in their diet or not. Who would have thought that our farm would be part of research projects at the university? We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to use the Fodder Box which is on loan from the university.
CSA Program is Back
We will be running our Community Supported Agriculture weekly food box program again this year. Please visit the CSA section of our website for full details (including our application form)!
Photo credit: Martín Bustamante