Fresh food on a first name basis…
As homesteading freshmen, we are launching our first season of CSA production at our 10 acre farm in Beaver Country, AB. With family history rooted in farming here in Alberta, B.C. & Eastern Ontario we will be prioritizing hands-on production methods and utilizing techniques and strategies learned after ten years of farm interning, volunteering & studying. We have been planning our operation together for over two years prior to purchasing the farm in December of 2016 & are over joyed to finally be putting our plans in action.
My passion for food and farming started when I was around six or seven years old; we kept a small family garden in our backyard & to this day I remember the pleasure of eating fresh peas off the vine, and eating corn on the cob minutes after it was picked. Nothing tastes as good as a fresh vegetable straight from the garden. My parents also tried keeping geese in our yard for a summer but residential by-laws meant they were shipped off pretty soon after we got them. Nevertheless, the magic of keeping livestock was discovered and I was hooked – but that feeling was buried beneath layers and layers of doubt that I could ever find a way to make it work.
I always thought a real farm was 100 acres or more – I’m not sure why I had that in my head but I did, and I thought anything less than that would be settling for something inferior, but in the last ten years I have seen amazing things being done on the smallest plots of land. If there is a will and some sunshine, there is a way.
I attended Guelph University in 2006 for rural development sociology. I love small towns, and I loved the idea of moving to one but I was also very aware of the poverty, the lack of services and the exodus of youth out of these very communities and that concerned me. My mission in University was to study resilience, how to identify opportunities for communities to thrive in the face of automation of industry and the amalgamation of diverse farms into the umbrella of an increasingly corporate model of agriculture.
When I had an opportunity to take a first year agriculture course taught by Dr Ann Clarke that focused on organic agriculture methods – I was enthralled by the course material; I learned new concepts like crop rotation and companion planting and direct to consumer marketing. It was around this time that I was exposed the writers like Gene Logsdon, Wendell Barry & Michael Pollan. Reading Omnivore’s Dilemma was a revelation for me and one afternoon while learning about farmer-activist Joel Salatin I realized I was meant to be a farmer.
That revelation on a café patio in 2006 changed the course of my twenties and has led me from Guelph to Toronto, where I gave up seven years of vegetarianism to be the storefront manager of one of Toronto’s premiere organic/ local butcher shops; the Healthy Butcher. While there I was not only able to learn about the products we sold but also about successful small business management, resilience and the importance of small business collaboration. I spent five years with the Healthy Butcher & it was one of the most important and pivotal periods of my life. It included a sabbatical summer away from the city where I met the incredible Montana Jones while interning under her at Wholearth Farm Studio in Central Ontario & was followed by another summer interning part time with Fresh City Farms – an experience that changed my perspective on the viability of Urban Farming and the CSA model as a whole.
From Toronto I moved to Alberta in 2014 where I met Sheldon and Natalie of Fair Share Farms as a customer of their CSA. To keep my hands dirty while working in the city I rented a gardening plot at Beaumont’s Greenhaven Gardens in order to learn the Alberta landscape and growing season – which is very different from what I was familiar with from Ontario. At the urging and the encouragement of my family and the mentorship of farmers like Sheldon & Natalie as well as numerous others from my circle of friends – we decided to buy Tapestry in the winter of 2016.
The farm itself is a humble ten acre original homestead 80 km east of Edmonton that hasn’t been farmed for years; making it an ideal parcel of land for naturally raised products & suits our plans for the farm – including an acre of seasonal vegetables, a half-acre of berries, rhubarb and perennials as well as a greenhouse in order to get the freshest vegetables to our members as soon as possible every season and for as long as possible into the fall. We will also have pasture-raised meat birds, eggs by the dozen from heritage hens, & wood-lot foraged pork available throughout the season. As we grow, we have plans to incorporate gourmet mushrooms, honey bees, rabbits and lamb into our production schedule as soon as possible.
Our management strategy as we grow and learn more about ourselves and our land will be governed by these principles:
· Are we contributing to the overall health and vigor of our soils, or are we depleting them?
· Are we utilizing our animal’s natural behaviors’ in a mutually beneficial way, or are we resisting them & thereby making more work for ourselves?
· Are we developing closed-loop self-reliant systems, including renewable energies and small business networks that foster resilient economies, or are we depending too much on outside sources?
Learn more about our practices on our Practices Page.
Discover more about our values and ethics on our Ethics Page.