It is the start of a new year, and we have experienced some major changes here on the farm!

Most notable is the arrival of our first born, Harry, entering our lives on November 15th of 2018. We have been very much enjoying the somewhat quieter winter scene getting to know each other, and adapting to our new normal. But of course, life on the farm continues, and Harry has already had a taste of things to come, helping Meghan weed the winter spinach in the hoophouse.

And of course, another huge improvement to our farm is the (near) completion of our large heated greenhouse!! This cathedral will provide fresh tender greens and salad crops all winter, grow our seedlings and transplants in the spring, and will be a safe place to get a head start on our summer trellised crops of tomato, pepper and cucumber. We are still working at getting the heating sources installed, and look forward to spending some sunny afternoons out of the cold wind, getting the soil into growing shape ahead of this year’s crops.

Our sloping land presented a bit of a challenge, but in the end Robert and his crew were able to make it happen. This greenhouse measures 30′ across, and 148′ long.

We have also planted the first of our fruit trees and shrubs into what will become our perennial orchard strips. We will plant these 12′ wide windrows with mixed fruiting trees and shrubs, perennial herbs and flowers, bioaccumulators, and beneficial insect attracting companion plants in order to establish biodiverse windbreak strips, all mulched with wood chips. We hope these orchard strips will eventually flourish, and provide habitat and food sources for all of the various pollinating species, as well as insects beneficial to protecting our vegetable crops. The perennial root systems, wood chip mulch and undisturbed soil will act as a mycorrhizal fungi reserve, further supporting the health and success of our neighbouring annual vegetable crops.

We also received our brand new logo (featured at the top of the page) courtesy of the very talented Amanda DeVries (, and are excited about having our own visual identity to distinguish us at the market. We hope this symbol will become familiar to you in the future as we grow!

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Seed starting, greenhouse preparations, raised beds.

It is officially fall here on the farm, but seed starting and planting are just ramping up for us this year. The first seeds to germinate in the field were a cover cop of oats and winter peas. We planted these into a few of the field blocks we had tarped, and then worked with the rotary plow, having added some composted manure in order to give the cover crop enough fertility to get a good start on growth. This combo of oats and peas will not survive through the winter, but will die back once the weather really turns, leaving a mulch of plant residue to protect the soil from the water and wind erosion that happens to bare soil over winter. By spring the mulch will be mostly decomposed, and  the field ready to be worked for spring cops, adding a bit of organic matter to the soil.

We are also currently filling our basement with seedlings destined for our future greenhouse. It will still be a few weeks before the structure itself goes up, but we are starting some cool season greens like lettuce, and kale, and green onions ahead of time so they can be transplanted into the greenhouse beds as soon as the structure is complete. We are also doing a trial of overwintering onions, which will be transplanted outside into raised beds in a few weeks.


Mixed lettuce growing steady under LED lights in the basement, with onion seedlings in the background.

The greenhouse we are building is an integral part of our plan to provide local vegetables year round to our community, and is also a fairly large investment for our first year in operation here on Sweaburg Rd. We are quickly coming to the end of the planning phase, and all of the elements are starting to come together to make this project a reality.

Just this week we had a larger diameter water line installed, and brought to the greenhouse location, so we will have year-round water access, and we have also been working hard at grading and levelling the site to reduce some of the slope that exists pretty much everywhere on our farm.

This greenhouse will be minimally heated through the winter using a hydronic radiant heating system to warm the growing beds directly via hot water sent through PEX pipe buried in the soil. We hope to minimize the energy and fuel needed to keep our more tender winter greens alive by only heating their immediate surroundings instead of the entire greenhouse structure.

We have big plans, but there is quite alot to do to make our plan happen before winter sets in.


Probably not so exciting to non-farmers, but this frost free hydrant will allow us year round water access in our greenhouse.


Jesse got to star in his own episode of “Mighty Machines” last weekend, using a rented excavator to dig up topsoil from a future pond site to add to the greenhouse base.


The back end of the future greenhouse site slopes a bit too much so we had to move quite a bit of soil to raise it up.

We are continuing to plug away at setting up our infrastructure, and are very excited about all of the very big things happening in the next few months!

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We are finally breaking new ground.

The past few weeks have been pretty exciting for us in terms of physical progress on the farm. We got ahold of our new small-scale implements, and had our first chance to work the soil we have been “solarizing” with large black silage tarps for the past month or so. The perennial grass was dry and brown, which made it alot easier to work up, and should also mean that it will not be coming back to haunt us. We purchased a BCS 2-wheel walking tractor (pictured with Jesse above), and have so far been impressed with the versatility and power coming from such a small package.

To do this primary sod-breaking, we are employing a Berta rotary plow, which looks like a big drill bit for the soil. It takes an 8-10″ strip of soil and throws it to the right, in order to work the soil to a 12-14″ depth. This is quite an aggressive soil-working activity, and we are only using it to break this new ground for the first time. From here on, we will be using minimal tillage practices in order to preserve our soil structure and microbiome. After our fields are opened up, this tool can then be used to help us create our raised beds, without having to do all of that digging by hand, and will make a handy trencher for planting potatoes.


This is what the soil looks like after one pass with the rotary plow. Pretty nifty!

We also took on a task that at times during the weekend long process, seemed impossible. We moved a ramshackle old shed from behind one barn to beside another. Sounds easy enough, but oh boy, was it a test in patience and ingenuity.

As any other fellow market gardeners out there know, success in this business requires a bit of know-how…….in just about every aspect of life. Besides all of the necessary knowledge one needs about soil health and fertility, seed starting and plant propagation, irrigation, harvest and storage practices, sales, marketing, and accounting, there are so many other types of jobs that just need to get done somehow. In the end, the shed travelled with its front end riding the mower deck on the tractor (supported by chains and straps to keep from tearing itself apart), and its back end rolling on logs, replaced every few feet.

Sure, we probably could have put up a brand new shed in the time it took us to move this one to its current location, but every penny saved counts, and this will make a great spot closer to the garden plots to keep our hand tools, and possibly house a few stray kittens.

While we appreciate having a few good mousers on staff here at the farm, we arrived at this property to find about 5 resident mama cats, with 3 or 4 litters in tow. We are currently reaching out to “Change for Paws” (Woodstock) in order to help control this growing population. Any donations of cat food to help keep this colony healthy are appreciated.

After we arrived on the farm property at the end of May, one of the first things we did was divide and plant the ancient rhubarb that had been growing at the old farm property for decades. We weren’t sure the 3 plants we brought with us would survive the trip, after having already produced an abundance of stalks earlier in the spring. But, we divided them neatly into 26 root chunks, added composted manure, covered the grass around them with cardboard, and the surrounding area with 6″ of wood chips, and hoped for the best.

And luckily enough, they made it! The strip they are planted in will be filled with fruit trees, and beneficial insect attractant plants to become one of our perennial orchard strips, acting as windbreaks between veggie plots.

We think having the thick wood chip mulch around each plant kept the soil cool and moist, enabling them to survive the heat wave we encountered just after they were planted.