2010, just starting out farming in Abbotsford.
As Andy and I look back at our 10 years of farming (whoo-hoo!), we’ve been considering the relationship between ourselves and those outside our family looking in. We rub shoulders with many people — family, friends, customers, acquaintances. Sometimes people look at what we are doing and say, “Oh, that’s really cool,” or give us some other encouraging comment. We also have well-meaning people express their doubts about our chosen line-of-work — or at least that’s how it sometimes comes across. “That must be hard. What a lot of work.” And some ask if we’re able to ‘make it’ financially. These people are often exploring the idea of becoming farmers themselves one day, and want to know what it’s like.
Potato harvest, Bradner, 2010
“Oh, that’s really cool.”
We do think what we are doing is important – or “really cool,” necessary, meaningful. We are proud to be able to offer good (tasty) food that is grown responsibly. We’re growing without chemicals and with the health of the soil as a top priority. During these last 10 years we’ve also had time to try out different varieties of vegetables in search of the best tasting tomatoes, cucumbers or carrots, for example. With a lot of that work now behind us, we continue to focus on growing our favourite varieties — and have less and less space in the field growing trials.
“That must be hard. What a lot of work.”
I have a couple people that thank me specifically for doing what we do when they shop at the our booth at the farmers market. This is very meaningful to me — but so is the person who quietly purchases their vegetables with a smile – and shows up, regularly or semi-regularly. I might know their name – or not – but I know their face — I recognize my market customers when I see them around town.
Yes, small-scale vegetable farming is a lot of work and it’s hard too, often, and hot – often both. 🙂 But, it’s what we have chosen. Along with growing good food for our community and providing daily feasts for our family, we’ve chosen the uncertainty of the future. We don’t know when, if or how we’ll acquire land of our own. The variables of each season are constantly there – the wind, rain, heat and pest-pressure are a little different each year — as is our health, the number of people that come out to the farmers’ market or sign up for our CSA boxes. It may be naive, but the positive things that are happening as a result of us farming, seem to outweigh – at least for now – the security we might find in another line of work. I believe there are different perspectives and definitions when it comes to the word security, depending on whom you are speaking with.
“Can you make it financially?”
In most ways, yes, in others, not-so-much. We’ve been able to take care of our family and build our business a little bit better most years – with the help of a small community of family and friends, who’ve come alongside us in various ways. The not-so-much part of ‘making it’ financially refers mostly to us wondering how ending up on our own piece of land one day might work.
Back to the comment, “That must be hard. What a lot of work.”
We were thinking, lately, that – perhaps – it’s not just the farmers who are working hard, but it’s our customers as well. Our farm wouldn’t be around without our farmers market customers, CSA members, and restaurant clients.
Yes, farming is hard work, but so is supporting a farm. We’ve had a few farm tours early in our farming career. It was very encouraging to have people show an interest through taking time to see where the food they eat is grown. Our customers support us through taking time on their Thursday afternoon or Saturday morning to find us at a local market. Our CSA customers pick up their surprise box of organic vegetables every Tuesday, often on their way home from work. There is a lot of effort being put out by our customers to connect with the food we grow. We don’t have a store – much less a store that is open from 8am till midnight. Schedules have to be flexed to purchase food from local farmers – at markets or at the CSA pickup.
Then, once home, schedules and habits may need to shift further to prepare or process the vegetables. Maybe purchasing vegetables from the market or CSA is a new thing for you. Perhaps, you and your family are trying to eat more vegetables. If you show an active interest in local food by purchasing it, your time in the kitchen may need to increase. We think that’s a good thing. It’s an especially good thing if there a way you can make the food prep a group activity. 🙂
We are grateful for our customers – for the feedback, comments, encouraging emails, and for the simple (or not-so-simple) act of purchasing our vegetables. We acknowledge the hard work you put in to be an integral part of our small-scale vegetables farm. Please accept from us our hearty thanks! We’re looking forward to seeing you again in the Spring.
~Cara, for Andy, Sarah and Jacob and I
- Chilliwack and Abbotsford CSA Vegetable Box sign up is now open under the upper left “CSA Vegetable Box” menu at this website.
- Get your free range, organically-fed EGGS from the drink cooler at the House of James coffeeshop, 2743 Emerson St., Abbotsford. $6.50/dozen and support our kid’s egg business.
Read more about reducing food miles and creating a sustainable table.