We've been buried in seed orders, production plans, work schedules, budgets, and lists of things we need to purchase all week. Today we were researching lease agreements, and found this gem:
Checklist of Discussion Points between Landowner and Landuser
(from linking land and farmers - llaf.ca, a great site in itself)
We thought this was a great tool-- we are not yet sure if we are going to draw up a full lease, but we at least want to make sure the four of us have discussed these points and that everything is comfortable for all involved before we start.
This week is Scotia Horticultural Congress, and so I've been busy volunteering as well (we plan this all year, and this is crunch time). Today Jon and I spent a few hours at the office getting the name badges finished and loading things into vehicles. Tomorrow bright and early I'll be at the registration desk, and Freggie is coming along, too. :)
A reminder to not take life too seriously! -->
So often, Jon and I settle into our "roles" with farming, and sometimes it's worth a reminder that we are both more versatile than we give ourselves credit for. In the process of tidying my office (a CONSTANT process, if it's not me making piles of "stuff to deal with later", it's exacerbated by the fact that little Samson finds those piles irresistible to jump on and plow over), I looked up and noticed a Blush Lane flyer on the wall (the company Jon and I used to work for in Calgary, where we met when I hired him at the Farmer's Market and he quickly rose through the company to become my most valuable manager... and then we started dating and took off farming together!).
It got me thinking, since I had just challenged Jon last night to write a blog post as he works on planning this Saturday while I'm at work: that husband of mine is one amazing guy. So much more than just a farmer: He farms expertly: tending plants as carefully and precisely as though they were children, he can jump on all sorts of equipment and do things like lay plastic, weed mechanically, till, mow, clear snow-- all things that I lust after learning how to do -- he drives various trucks and forklifts, he knows how to manage pests and fertility, how to make crop plans and do seed orders, the specifics of organic farming, storage considerations, marketing considerations -- He also makes all his own beer, is a self-taught DJ on both digital and turntables, he is an amazing carpenter with intense attention to detail and a knowledge of how to do things right and well, he's great at time management and he really was a great manager at Blush Lane. More importantly, he knows how to learn-- he was my best student, and looked at all my blog posts to learn how to create beautiful produce displays (or maybe he just had a crush on me!). He's the kind of guy who picks things up, learns how to do them, and then moves onto learning the next thing. He plays the didgeridoo and made his own, he plays banjo, he's made his own shoes and loves to sew, he snowboards, he's run marathons, he's done yoga, he's tried Aquaculture and Bible College and travelled to Mexico and New Zealand twice, skydiving, working at a summer camp; he has an interest but a healthy skepticism about all things paranormal, unexplained, and otherworldly, as well as a ton of knowledge about astronomy and outer space, he's great with animals and loves kids (Yes, in the same sentence on purpose!)-- the more I think about him, the more things I realize he's interested in and has done in his 33 years.
On top of all that, he treats me like gold. One could not ask for a more loving and considerate partner, who is always thinking of me first and doing everything he can to make me happy. I must say, I am spoiled by this and don't always return the favour as completely as I could. Maybe I save it up for gushy blog posts! :P
At any rate, the point of this post was to share that Jon is also an excellent writer. Each year, Rob at Blush Lane would invite one of the managers out to the orchard. I went in 2010, and Jon went in 2011. After Jon returned, his blog post was published in our newsletter. Here's a link to the article, as well as a scan of the published piece on my wall:
So, next time you're at a farmer's market, "don't be afraid to ask where your produce is coming from. You may get to hear about one of the great people who grow our food. When you're salivating over an amazing peach in your home, you can feel good knowing you're helping one of those great farmers. Farmers who choose to grow organically, sell locally, and follow their passion by making a living farming. By taking care of their land, they're ensuring that not only their children, but also their grandchildren will have a future farming. Being a small part of this, to me, is something worth being proud of" -- Jon Jenkins
My love for this man grows and grows, and I look forward to diving in to our farming endeavors this year. I'm nervous and stressed about the details, but I know in the big picture we are on the right track, and that's really all that matters.
Off to market I go,
I'm doing a lot of reading this winter, one of the books I'm reading is about organic farming and the chapter I'm on is about finding and buying land, here's a quotation that I really liked:
"Ideally you'll find a piece of really rich soil surrounded by woods or natural prairie fairly close to a delightful small town where health-minded customers are clamoring for fresh, local food and the schools are first-class. But usually that's not the case. You find the best farm and community you can and then do what you can to make them both better"
--Larkin Hansen, Anne: The Organic Farming Manual, 2010
This winter, I am taking a Farmer's Market Manager course offered through Farmer's Markets of Nova Scotia. Yesterday concluded the second of 4 sessions that will happen this winter. In addition to the great material being covered and the wonderful instructor Michelle Wolf of Whole Green Heart, the course is a great opportunity to network with other Market managers and board members in the province. One person I have met in the course is Catherine, the market manager for the Kentville Farmer's Market. In the past, I was always working Wednesdays and so couldn't make it to this market, but seeing Catherine yesterday was a great reminder to shop local on Wednesdays from 10 - 2.
Here's Samson inspecting the haul of goodies this morning! It was nice to be a shopper rather than always a vendor, and to get veggies from different farmers than I usually do (Emily TeBogt and DK Fairn Farm), and to connect with a great local market in my neighbourhood!
This is one of my favourite photos, which I dug up by googling it on the internet. Have you ever Googled yourself? It's rather alarming, never mind when you're trying to find a specific photo.
Anyhow, here's Jon and I last winter, planning and creating a seed order (specifically, doing the required "seed search" that the organic certification requires) for TapRoot Farms. I've never met a farmer who doesn't love the winter, time spent poring over glossy seed catalogs and planning for next season. A good season starts with well-laid plans, and that's what we are doing right now. We are communicating with various retailers/wholesalers who will carry our produce to see what they want to buy, so we can plan what to grow and how much. Salad mix will definitely continue next year, and there will be more crops, too.
Hope you are cozy this Sunday, thinking warm thoughts and enjoying life!