Reflections on the Season

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Well, another season has passed in a blur, as usual. This summer saw ups and downs, as most of our seasons do, as we continue to recover from the landslide that devastated our small community in 2012, continue to develop this piece of land into a working farm, and adapt to farming with a toddler.

Our community in Johnson's Landing has continued to work hard this year to get back to where we were before the massive landslide in 2012. In a lot of ways, we're back to where we were before the slide. One big way the slide continues to affect is that we still don't have a permanent water system in place to supply the affected properties. As farmers, who rely on a secure access to water for our income, this has been a little scary for us. Fortunately, our community came to decision late this summer about a water source to use and should be on it at some point next summer. Whew, that's a weight off our shoulders!

We learned some hard lessons this year. We learned we can't farm here the way we were in Sorrento, BC. Our fields are very rocky and have really low fertility. Since we've come to this decision, we are experimenting with new ways of growing our crops and working our fields. We added various amendments throughout the season and planted cover crop in areas not planted in production to try and increase fertility and organic matter in our soil. We're experimenting with other ways to work our fields besides using a tiller (which doesn't work in our rocky fields) and coming up with new solutions that are working for us. It was hard for us to admit we had to change the way we farm, but now that we've come to that realization, we're steadily working towards finding solutions.

This summer was also the first summer we tried farming with our son. Luckily, he loves being outside and we were able get quite a bit done with him, with frequent strawberry, raspberry and wagon ride breaks. But, by the end of the season, he has helping harvest some of our crops and always made being in the field an adventure.

This summer saw a big growth in our production of fresh produce. We focused on selling produce at 2 local grocery stores in Kaslo, as well as attending the Kaslo Saturday Market weekly with a large variety of produce. We have hopes and dreams to expand our fresh produce production even more, such as deliveries to the Kootenay Co-op in Nelson and possibly a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in partnership with another farmer in Johnson's Landing.

Patrick was very involved in a study with 3 other BC farmers of how to produce viable carrot seed in high tunnels to isolate it from Queen Ann's Lace, which readily crosses with it. It was a huge learning curve, but he has learned a lot and is looking forward to continuing the study next year to make improvements and work towards producing high quality carrot seed in area with Queen Ann's Lace.

We are currently working on getting our farm ready for winter, finishing off cleaning our seeds, working on a catalogue (we're offering a full catalogue again this year) and returning our focus solely to Stellar Seeds for the winter. Even though our days are still busy, it feels much calmer on the farm and we're enjoying a bit of "quieter" time as we reflect back on this season and look forward to our busy seed selling season this winter.