Here are some updates from the farmers featured in To Make A Farm.
Since 2010, Green Being Farm has grown substantially. Our Winter CSA has doubled in size, and we’ll be feeding about 90 people this winter, on our way to our eventual goal of 175. Our flock of sheep has also doubled; we are now at 18 ewes, on our way to 40. We will be raising about 20 pigs this season, and continue to raise the same amount of poultry. This year (2012), we will also be adding grassfed cattle to the mix!
We have had such great support from our customers and are routinely told how much everyone loves the food we are growing for them. This means so much to us and has given us the confidence to continue growing our farm. We now accept 2-3 interns each year, and our interns farm with us half the week and work on their own farm business projects the rest of the week. With this initiative we hope to provide opportunities for other new farmers to get started.
All in all, we’re happy to say that life on the farm is good. Every year we get better and better at handling the stresses that are part of life on a farm, and every year of experience gives us better perspective as to what is really important. We are getting used to the ebbs and flows of the season and learning to expect when the farm will ask the most of us and when we will have time to regenerate.
Tarrah & Nathan at Green Being Farm
There hasn't been an enormous amount of change in the vegetable department on the farm - we are taking 150 summer CSA members and 100 winter members this year (up from 75 and 50 at the time of the film). The garden is going great and our members seem very very happy. This farm grows beautiful vegetables and it is definitely paying off with an almost 100% retention of CSA members. We will be farming about 6 acres of vegetables this season. We've had a lot of success with winter greenhouse growing, so we'll be putting up another greenhouse this year. We also bought an absolutely awesome 4 row original Planet Junior seeder last week which will mean we can seed 3 rows at a time instead of one which will increase our efficiency a lot on the farm.
Increasing efficiency and decreasing the time it takes to do this work is on our mind a lot - we do not want to be perpetually overworked. We are analyzing our methods and plans in an effort to make life somewhat less hectic in the summer and to make sure our bodies aren't broken as we continue doing this.
We're also taking 2 interns this summer - a senior and a beginner intern. We've needed a lot more labour since the film, so there will be 4 of us working on the farm this summer.
The biggest change/addition to the farm this year will be a push towards starting our grain CSA. We are collaborating with our neighbour and will be growing grain, seeds and legumes on 4-6 acres to start. This is super exciting and we'll be potentially investing in some more intensive cleaning and milling equipment so we can provide good quality grains and flours to members.
We are also thinking about how we can get some animals on the farm, but our time is 110% taken up by the veggies, so that will be a challenge. Seems like we (along with many of our peers) are moving into another stage of farming where we are taking stock of what we have done, and trying to create new plans now that our initial big plan of just having the farm and starting our business has been realized.
Leslie & Jeff at Cedar Down Farm
I have now two seasons under my belt, the first of course captured in To Make A Farm. The pond seen at the end of the film certainly aided me. A five horse power gas pump and five hundred feet of down hill hose helped the water to flow. And without irrigation last year would have been lost; there was not a drop of rain from July through to September.
My living arrangements stayed the same, with a second glorious summer spent in my tent. The coyotes, the wind and the occasional thunder storm sweetened my sleep. This past fall I was finally able to build some walls. I have for the coming season a small wood stove cabin to extend my season living on the land. I also purchased a greenhouse this past year and I'll be moving into larger scale transplant starts. These are to sell as well as for my own use.
Chickens and hogs were added to my repertoire in year two and my vegetarian days have come to an end with home grown meat in my freezer. I was always more of an opportunavore than a vegetarian anyway.
The biggest change last year was the property my family and I have purchased in my home town of Minnedosa. My brother, father and I have taken on an old cinderblock carwash on the main drag, and last spring I was able to renovate my half into a vegetable wash, storage and market, with the main Minnedosa farmers' market moved to my new location. The building is yet a work in progress, but as it stands now I have the potential to clean, store, freeze, cook and can all of my own vegetables to supply in a bigger and better way a number of local markets and restaurants. The end game for the building is a commercial kitchen, cafe, market, and live music venue.
Year three is of course exciting and promising. More renovations to the market building. 1000 asparagus and three hundred raspberries await planting first thing in the spring. With a larger pasture now fenced, and with the pigs being a success, I plan to up the herd - though I'm thinking of dropping the chickens as their slim profit margin does not do the trouble they cause any justice. The cabin I've built promises comfortable living starting in April when I plan to move again on to the land and then right through November, giving me eight months self sufficiency. This winter I finish my horticultural certificate and I'll have a piece of paper to match my by-hand learning.
Wes at Littlepath Farm