Friday, 18 December 2015

Winding down the Blog

There have been some long gaps between posts and that is usually a sign that I've started to run out of ideas.  Now that two growing seasons have more or less been had, there is only going to be more repetition.  A different pest, a different gaffe in marketing, but I feel like I know at this point what our farm is about and the general direction it is going (as outlined in the blog to this point).

The idea was that I was going from being an urban kid, whose contact with rural life was limited to an annual day trip to an aunt and uncle's farm and the odd whimsical stop on a trip to another city, to a country dweller.  Well, it would be a stretch to say that I have become a rural person to the core and that the city with its bright lights, freeways, and long list of cultural events in the alternative newspaper's listings is overwhelming to me now.  But I have come to live a mostly rural life.  I spend an evening a week in the city doing errands and maybe staying at the library for a few hours (we still do not have high speed internet access at home).  But most days are on the farm or at my part-time job, which is also rural, agricultural, physical.

We have a couple of sheep now, along with a doe and a buck, who are together with the intent of the doe being bred.  But they are buddies more than awkward breeding companions.  We have a pig and a bunch of chickens that are still laying even as we approach the shortest day of the year.  We have a couple of geese and a drake, they are an odd crew, wandering together, the geese tearing into the grass, which is still sort of growing, the drake digging under it, looking for something with a bit more meat.  It has been an easy start to winter, after two really long and harsh ones.

We began this life thrown into a winter of major snow storms and a long ice mess - challenging circumstances when you have animals in a barn a couple hundred feet from the house.  We have good pictures from that time.  Carrying feed pails as the dog walks alongside, deep snow.

The start was hard - there was a lot of money going out and hobby wages coming in.  There was a lot of shovelling and digging, the effects of which were satisfying, while the effects on my body will probably present in the coming years, unpleasant surprises in my joints and gait.

I've settled into the reality of local food.  I have gone from being wide-eyed, to being outraged at how little seems to be seized in the revolution we are supposed to be having, to being more aware but also more tempered in my frustrations.

I recently attended a lecture entitled "Urban Food Revolution."  It was about the myriad successes of rooftops, hydroponics, SPIN, food hubs, and about the unfortunate realities of food miles, food deserts, food waste.  It was an array of issues I've learned all about.  It was not new, though it would be to some people.

I made myself give the presenter credit for the fact that his portrayal of local food was mostly valid.  It is bound to be a slow, spotty shift to people being more involved in their food and caring more about how it is grown and shipped.  But I would want to add to the discussion that in spite of the many interesting things happening (apparently Telus and Sheraton are mandating that their towers have rooftop gardens - I think I have that right) much of it is cosmetic.  They mostly just feel good.  And look good.  They ruffle few feathers and break few budgets.  Granted, they do provide some meals and maybe even contribute to the needy who still mostly have to rely on processed foods like canned beans and sugar cereals.  The true value of a small sunned space and some soil is hard to appreciate in the world we live in.

Most of the small businesses I know around local food are struggling to make a living, trying everything they can think of - a new farmers market, a storefront, a great new product that no one else has thought of, and it's an uphill battle.

But we are at an alright place:  we now have a year-round weekly market that is working reasonably well for us and giving us a base income to build upon.  We have hosted a few very fun cooking classes and had a good go of growing winter greens in the unheated greenhouse, which has made us more confident that we can maintain a good variety of nutritious foods throughout the year.

Keep abreast of developments on Long Road Eco Farm's Facebook.

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