Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Local Farms

Sleepy G Farm
photo credit to Sleepy G
on the majestic Sibley Peninsula, Pass Lake 
I'm sort of incredibly jealous of local farmers right now. After connecting for a Walleye story I'm overwhelmed with daydreams of goats and chickens on acres of garden.
Then I add R's dream of a traditional Australian pie shop and add some lambs to our farm.

A few greenhouses...

Fields of flowers. I say sort of when I think about the amount of work it is for the families, and exceptional commitment to what they're doing.

I have farm envy, chicken envy after writing this one - not that I wasn't already afflicted.

I am amazed by all our local farms, each doing unique and innovative things, gardening with both knowledge and creativity, challenging the climate on the Boreal Edge
Boreal Edge Farms
photo credit to Chris Merkley

Belluz Farms
photo credit to Kevin Belluz
Restricted by space, I could not possibly do these farms justice in the short W article, but do hope to follow up throughout the season - including this blog and Twitter too. There is so much to tell about how farming is reinventing itself in the Thunder Bay area.

Though I was featuring only three, Thunder Bay is surrounded by farms that have so much to offer. This week the Kampoff's dairy farm in the CJ, showing what they've been doing for generations - complete with evolution and newness. I went to school with those kids - Thunder Bay Christian School....a lifetime ago. Maybe it was through that connection (and my father being drawn to Dutch fellows) that brought him, the math professor, to take up farming.

He put in a good effort, for a hobby farmer. I was chased off the school bus by geese, my mother will tell you stories about running out of the house with a broom to shoo the rooster from the foot of the swing-set, so that my sister and I could get off. Matt from Boreal Edge was telling me all about their new chicken flock of 100 pasteurised laying hens and all I could think about our "pasteurised" laying hens roaming free everywhere - no "eggmobile" to keep me safe...sigh... 
It was an interesting childhood.

I became far too attached to the chickens, and our goat (who was often found tied to the mostly chewed Tamarack tree outside my bedroom window); then there was Brutus the bull (?), and of course the baby animals in spring. Oh I loved the day Dad came home with a box full of baby chicks to keep in the family room with lights until it was warm enough, and they were old enough, for the coop (non roaming coop). I realise much more now, in retrospect, why my mother cringed the way she did. I laugh a little imagining the conversations my parents had. 

The math professor farmer was a bee keeper and an apple grower, wannabe Geologist, Forester, Ecologist. Our property boundary was shared by the Wishart Conservation Forest, and the Current River. What a playground I lived in. Far from the urban lifestyle I live now. 

Time and weather thwarted my photographic hopes, but the season has only just begun. I imagine a lot of sweeping farm panos in my future.

Sleepy G Farm is a new farm, re-establishing an old farm. Belluz Farms are reinventing themselves with each generation, each offering a variety of local produce - enough to sustain a family of four, for less than what you would pay in any chain store but better: fresh, and locally grown. 
I think what deters people, or where value is lost, is the lost knowledge of storage and preservation. I bought apple for lunch at the neighbourhood Safeway yesterday - "Ontario Grown," in other words: out of cold storage. Storing and canning, preserving - it all takes preparing and planning - which isn't nearly as daunting as it seems. Understandably space can be an issue for some families - speaking as someone who lives in a century home in an overcrowded downtown neighbourhood. Closets? Say what? ...but, every challenge has a solution, somehow...solve it.

Their concepts aren't new or even unique - they're proven, tested, and evolved. CSA shares from Sleepy G Farm are quite different from what Belluz Farms offer, each local farm with variety - and with local producers of beef, lamb, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, chocolate, fruits, vegetables, herbs, ...include area artisans, honey, syrup, tea, wheat & rice. What else do we need? Jeff & Kerr and their coffee, Denyse's pancakes, Sovereign Room, Growing Season, omg this list is too long to begin. !

We're doing pretty good here in Thunder Bay for local sustainability. Pretty incredible actually.


Sleepy G Farm
Brendan Grant & Marcelle Paulin
RR1 Pass Lake, ON
P0T 2M0
807.977.1631
Located at the base of the Sibley peninsula, approximately 45kms east of Thunder Bay.

Boreal Edge Farm
Matt Baughman & Leigh Potvin
RR1 Marttinen Lane
Nolalu Ontario
P0T 2K0
807.475.8835

Belluz Farm
Don, Claire, Kevin, Jodi and the kids
RR6 752 Candy Mountain Drive
Slate River, Ontario
P7J 0C2
Farm: 807.475.5181
Greenhouse: 866.200.1011 ph/fax


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