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Posts by Teri Jenkins


Last Harvest

Posted on by Teri Jenkins

Photo from last night, our last few bags of salad going out into the world.  We ended up going 18 weeks, from July to October, with no gaps and more demand than we could meet consistently.  The books are nearly up to date and it is time to sort out our rent and other expenditures, so the job is not yet done, but nearly.  :)

It is bittersweet that it is over, but we had a very successful first step this year and were able to pay off all of our lingering debt, which was our goal.  More news on next year to come, as decisions are in process!



An exciting opportunity in the works

Posted on by Teri Jenkins

Yesterday morning we headed 24 minutes west to our friends Dave and Kim's farm- Waxwing Farm in Windermere.  They decided to take a break from farming this year, and so they have gorgeous, thoughtfully laid out and well-cared for certified organic farmland for rent next season.  They are continuing to live on the land and so we are exploring this as a site for Jon and Teri's Farm to be based for next year-- we would commute from New Minas.  There are a number of challenges and risks to consider, so we are carefully considering and exploring markets and what types of crops there is demand for without stepping on anyone's toes-- We are sensitive to the fact that Josh and Patricia at TapRoot have been incredibly generous and supportive of us the past 2 years, so we are looking to complement their organic selection, not compete.

Dave and Kim are great folks, and we know that we have similar values, lots in common, and good communication, so this is a really special opportunity for us.  We feel ready to go for it, but it is scary to think about only having one outside farming income next season.  However, we think this is a really smart way to get started and begin to acquire some of the needed equipment and infrastructure for our future farm, without having to buy a farm yet.  By saving ourselves the outlay of cash that would mean for now, we can work on establishing crops and markets that work for us and be in a stronger place when we find our farm.  We know it's out there, waiting for the right moment, and we are hungry to reach our goals.

On a side note, I have been LOVING it at my new job, and have a work blog too: http://nogginsbloggin.blogspot.ca/  It fits well with what I want my schedule to be like, and my personality and energy level is well-suited to it, as is my skill set and expertise.  I absolutely LOVE being at market, and I like the driving and logistics and promotion as well.  It gives me a good opportunity on the front lines to see what people are after and what sells in NS.  And, it offers a lot more independence and flexibility, which is great... a move I should have made long ago!



October 19th

Posted on by Teri Jenkins

It's been a busy fall, but when is fall not busy as a farmer?

After a bit of a scare last week, I am taking some time and space and resources to sort out my health.  Since finding out in May that I have "IBS" (basically a catch-all term for digestive issues, doctors use it because they aren't equipped to actually help you sort it out), I've been putting off sorting it out until November.  Well, I didn't quite make it until then, had a fainting episode and a bad fall last week.  All is well, and Samson kept me company for the day and a half I spent in bed (photo left).  He's growing so quickly and is such a great addition to our family.

Jon did last week's salad harvest all by himself, and had to take half a day off work to do it.  We still have supply and I'm honestly surprised, so we keep filling orders until the snow flies I guess!

Sometimes when we harvest salad we have an audience --> 

Luckily, these pigs are smart enough to stay on their side of the fence most of the time, or they would suffer the fate of dear Cheetah!  Total of 4 pig escapes into the salad patch this season.  We are working hard at plans for next year and hope to mitigate our risks by not being so close to pigs.  See their mouths watering over our yummy salad, so close and so tantalizing??

I've been taking a very needed break from social media and email for the past 8 weeks.  I of course see the importance of it, I just needed a mental break from the constant and always-on-internet.  Not having a work email is great and the way I'd like to keep it.  I appreciate blogging because it also creates a record of photos and stories, and is less "out there" than facebook and other outlets.  We have more demand for salad than we can meet, and so this blog is really more of a record of our season than it is a promotional piece (and as I planned at the beginning of the season, it will be self-published as a tangible record for Jon and I-- I mean, an actual physical photobook that we will keep forever and remember our first year as husband and wife in the salad patch).  My work for Noggins on the other hand, is in dire need of me to start ramping up on social media, so I will soon re-enter that yucky space.  When will we come to our senses and start experiencing life in the real world?  Jon often talks about new human achievements as pendulum shifts, and I feel like the social media world is all to the extreme and has yet to settle somewhere more realistic in the middle.  Hopefully something comes along and wipes it all out so that we realize what a house of cards our precious online lives really are.  Until then, I will keep blogging... I guess!



Reinvigorated!

Posted on by Teri Jenkins

We have just returned last night from a quick and last-minute visit to New Brunswick to visit our friends Will and Alyson at Windy Hill Farm in McKees Mills (40 min N of Moncton).  We got word about a week and a half ago that Will had had a bad fall in the barn and so we took off to lend our able bodies and support.

We've never been able to sneak away during the growing season for a visit, so we were really excited to see the farm in it's full glory, and we weren't disappointed!  Unfortunately I also took the opportunity to leave my cell phone in the suitcase, and so I have no photos to share, other than this one from the Windy Hill Farm website of Will, Alyson, and Cory, who I miss already! 

Alyson and Jon worked together 10 years ago in BC when Jon was an apprentice at Glen Valley Organic Farm.  They built a strong friendship, and I heard so much about Alyson that when I met her I felt as though I already knew her.  We met when Jon and I were on our way to Nova Scotia, nearly 3 years ago, in February 2012.  Since then, we've made an annual spring visit in kidding season, to visit the baby goats.  This visit I was fortunate enough to catch goat mating season, so I got to see the other side of the picture!  It was neat to see the bucks and does in heat, and really lucky to catch it, as does only go into heat for 24 hours every 3 weeks.  Ruby, the matriarch, was just a young goat when Jon came to the farm in BC, and as of this season she has retired to live out the rest of her days at Windy Hill--  I guess I'm marking the passing of time in terms of goat generations, but it's really special that Jon has know Ruby for as long as he's known Alyson.  She's like an old friend, too.

Alyson and Will run a shipshape, scale-appropriate farm that I lust after.  Every little detail is carefully thought through and planned out, and each and every tool has a place and each action a reason behind it.  I think of their farm as a model for what I hope Jon and I can achieve someday.  Alyson is generous with sharing her knowledge, she encourages us in our endeavours and celebrates our successes as though they were her own.  The fields at Windy Hill are tidy, the plants vigorous and the crops bountiful-- and above all else, everything is delicious!  We always have amazing feasts when we visit.  This time it was a sushi feast, the star of the table being Alyson's recently grown and pickled fresh ginger.  I helped make candied ginger when we were there, and it is potent and scrumptious.  Alyson milks goats and so there is always great cheese around-- we tried some blue, as well as gouda and feta and chevre, and I helped to stir some curds for feta. 

Jon spent most of his time working on the farm helping with some carpentry projects that Will was in progress on before the fall.  He put up some weather guards for the wash stations, which get rather chilly in the 5 weeks of washing that remain for the CSA this year.  He also helped with some final touches on insulating the newly built (improved) pumphouse.  Will is doing shockingly well for someone with 11 broken ribs and a number of other damaged bones-- He is taking it easy, but at the farm doing what he can every day, and was even able to start driving again while we were there.  I half-joked that Will's fall was just an excuse for us to take time off for a visit during the growing season, but it's really true.  Alyson and Will are such great people and so organized and surrounded by such a great community that supports them, that they would never be wanting for helping hands.  Built-in crop insurance.

I helped in the kitchen a bit, as well as harvesting and bagging for the CSA boxes for this week's distribution.  When I was out in the fields harvesting, I really got to be a part of the farm for the first time and feel the special place that it is first hand.  Alyson and Will's employees care just as much as they do about the farm, and take great care and reward in what they do.  The fields are well-laid out and no effort goes wasted.  Like I mentioned, every tool has a place, and any time you need a tool you just have to think where it might logically be, and there it is.  The systems run efficiently and communication is clear, shared, and transparent.  It's the most well run farm I've ever seen, and that's a huge accomplishment, as farms are busy places and it's easy to fall off the wagon and end up with a mess very quickly.  I worked with Sarah, Carla, and Alyson's Mom and Dad, and each person did their part to make the CSA harvest run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.  There were no piles of dirty tubs left laying around for someone else, and no muddy footprints in the cooler, and the location of all items in the cooler is logged on the door so it's always easy to find what you're looking for.  The harvest list is clear and posted so that everyone can add to it as needed.  Alyson manages the harvest expertly, offering advice and feedback when required, but allowing her workers to take pride in what they do and reach a level of autonomy where they can gain real satisfaction from a job well done.

Alyson and Will's farm is a very special place and the way they run it inspires me.  The past 6 months have been pretty crazy busy for me, and the visit to McKees Mills was exactly what I needed to get reinvigorated and excited about farming again.  I have spent the past 2 years behind a desk and feel that I lost a big part of my passion for what we are working towards this year in particular.  Fitting salad mix in to our lives has been a struggle, and there are times lately when I have found myself wondering, "why are we bothering?".  Part time farming is not proving to be as rewarding as I had hoped, mainly because I am kept so busy (and so exhausted most of the time) that everything is constantly behind in my personal and business realms-- not a good feeling.  My job transition, though I love the work, has been difficult, too-- as I work for a large non-organic fruit farm, I feel like we are further and further from our goals of having a farm like Windy Hill someday.  However, I have returned from New Brunswick with a renewed spirit and a plan, and I have Alyson and Will to thank for a much-needed break from day to day life.

We will get there, someday very soon, and all the motivation I need is to see wonderful people like Alyson and Will setting the example for what can be achieved when you work hard and follow your passion and values.  I am so fortunate to have friends like them and can't wait until the next time we can visit Windy Hill, as it's always a place I leave feeling inspired.  Thanks to Alyson and Will and everyone else at the farm for a great visit!

Now, off to harvest salad.  :)