>The Birth of a Small Farm

>It’s as official as it gets. We have started to farm. The grass has been cut, the seeds received, the farm name has been picked and the family is excited. Let’s remember this when the weeds are out of control, the deer are munching on the pak choi and the chickens have become raccoon food.

It seems like we’ve been waiting for this moment for a looong time and, now that it’s here, you’d think we’d be completely ready. And maybe we are, but suddenly it doesn’t feel like it.

The land is located less than a kilometre from the heart of Ganges on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. The property is owned by a third generation Salt Springer. He is renting it to friends of ours who have been nice enough to let us use the large back yard for growing food. In all, we will probably break ground on around a half acre.

The topography slopes down from the house to the headwaters of three small creeks which sounds like it would be too wet to farm but it’s not. In fact, we’re told that in a couple of weeks the ground there will be dry enough to till. The slope in places could make it tricky to work so we may have inconsistent bed spacing but, at this point, I’m more concerned about rocks. Just about every farm we’ve been to on the west coast has been quite stony which can be a challenge to work with the walk-behind tractor we own.

We met the owner today who seems really happy that the soil is being worked. He inherited the property when his parents died several years ago. Yesterday, with my BCS 853 walking tractor and 26″ flail mower, I took about 4 hours to cut the 6′ tall orchard and reed-canary grass. We will be meeting his brother tomorrow who will probably be breaking the ground for us with his 4 wheel tractor and a suitable implement.

After meeting the owner today, we went to the post office and picked up our seed order which came in the nick of time. After dinner, we seeded a few hundred soil blocks. Our plan is to see what we can grow during the summer given that we will be fighting with our own inexperience and all the grasses that have flourished on the land for many years. Hopefully in a couple of months we will have weakened the grass enough that the crops for our winter harvest will thrive for that is the point; to provide food during the time of year when there is little to be found locally.


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