Frost covered eyelashes and frosty impressions of ferns upon the windows welcome us to winter solstice.
I always believed we should use winter solstice as the marker for when the new year is but perhaps that’s just the farmer in me.
This past year was a beautiful one with many challenges and many successes on the farm and in life.
This past year we improved road access to one of our main production fields which has become the first of multiple orchards we are building on the farm as we move deeper into no-till and regenerative agriculture practices. The access to this field had deteriorated quickly with the record-breaking rain years we had with the last round of El Nino patterns. It’s nice to have a more permeant solution for year-round access even in freshet.
After our road upgrade we planted hundreds of shrubs and trees as well as hedge rows to create a more sustainable “food forest” for the future in the aforementioned field.
We had a lovely team of engineers from UNBC come up with a plan that will help us in creating more water storage on the farm that will meet our needs now and into the next 70 years based on climatic models and the associated evaporation rates as well as the future expansion of orchards.
We successfully grew our biggest crop of ginger which was a first for the north this past year and we were on track to hit our biggest tomato production numbers for the farm.
I say we “were” on track to have our best tomato crop because we had a major fire in our office and walk-in cooler building that ended up making us shut down our operations far earlier than we had hoped for the season.
The fire was devastating, mentally and financially. It will become a distant memory in time. If it hadn’t been for us buying fire fighting equipment when we bought our irrigation pumps, we could have lost everything on the farm. We had listened to stories from other farms and their fires while being outside fire protections zones far from cities. We knew that if a fire were to break out, we would be on our own.
Fortunately, I had taken a part time position with Young Agrarians as a Land Matcher and the extra income has kept us afloat while we wait on our payout from insurance and start our new season.
In the farming diaspora many have begun using the word resilience as being a major component to being successful in farming or continuing on. Given the past few years of crazy weather globally as well as a pandemic, I feel “resilience” is the only way to make it in farming. We’ve certainly had our challenging years and know that there will be plenty more to come.
Resilience however only comes with a good support team behind every farm. Be it family, friends, customers or fellow farmers and mentors, they are a necessity to the challenging life path of an agrarian soldier of soil. No man(person) is an island.
I am thankful for all of our customers, friends, family and fellow farmers that have surrounded us with love all these years we’ve been on this agrarian journey on our little 150 acres of boreal forest.
If anything, I’ve learned over the past few years is that life is short and the time we have on earth is a gift not be squandered. Challenges will arrive in life and soon become distant memories and if you are lucky wisdom will be gained in the process.
In the past few years, I’ve lost friends and family to Covid, I’ve lost mentors to age and health issues all the while I’ve grown older. My babies have become little curious people and before I know it, they will become adults. Time, it just keeps on slipping into the future.
In many ways I feel like the death of some family members and mentors is the passing of a torch. A torch of life, resilience and passion. I think as we age, we naively somewhat believe our mentors, parents etc. will always be there for us. In reality, one day they will not be. Suddenly you are the one holding the torch lighting the way for others.
As we approach the shortest day of the year, may your torches burn brightly lighting the way for others whose torches have grown dim.
We look forward to seeing you all in the new year with some exciting dreams and news about the upcoming season.