Hello out there, TapRoot family and fans! We, Chris and Greta, the shiny new apprentices here at TapRoot Farms, would like to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves and tell you a little about what we're doing here. First, who we are:
Chris LeFort comes from a small rural area in Nova Scotia, and enrolled in ACORN's Grow a Farmer program to hopefully learn how to farm, or at least get a good idea of what farming organically is all about. He studied biology at Dalhousie where, he found he had an interest in plants, volunteering in a lab where he tissue cultured aquatic lace plants. He enjoyed the sense of satisfaction of propagating these plants in a sterile environment, and later on became fascinated by the life cycle of mushrooms and began to learn how to cultivate them. Mushrooms seemed to be an interesting model for organic farming because of the potential of using agricultural waste for cultivation, and made him seriously become interested in organic farming. His main goal is to have a somewhat sustainable farm specializing in gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. This year he wants to have a side project of trying to grow some Oyster mushrooms or other species for the farm.
Greta Landis hails from Maine, and has been a student in Halifax at the University of King's College for the past four years. She will be graduating next week (woohoo!) with a combined honours BA in Biology and Contemporary Studies, hanving recently completed a thesis on philosophy and farming. Her interest in sustainable agriculture and environmental practice is a long-standing one, cultivated through summer research jobs and blossoming during two seasons of apprenticeships in organic vegetables, at Peacemeal Farm in Maine. She is hoping to learn lots this season about the education and outreach that goes along with organics and sustainability, and the ins and outs of managing and marketing farms. She's particularly excited to get into growing flowers.
As apprentices in the inaugaral year of ACORN's 'Grow a Farmer' program, we are lucky enough to live and work at TapRoot this season, and are excited to tell you about some of the things we are learning about along the way. The highlights thus far include:
- transplanting seedlings into the field
- harvesting dandelion greens and pea shoots
- discovering how to (and how not to) change the oil and oil filter on a tractor
- picking up the TapRoot pigs from the local butcher
Though we're all sore and tired, (and especially tired of saying "Pea shoots. PEA shoots. PEA SHOOTS!!), we can all agree that Saltscapes Expo was a success, and a great time was had by all of the TapRoot team who attended!
Patricia had a banner made to explain why we were at Saltscapes that I really liked. I thought it tied into the transparency that I see always from both Josh and Patricia: they are always aware of being as open and transparent as possible when it comes to decisions at the farm. So, it follows that we were transparent about why we were at Saltscapes. Here it is:
TapRoot invested in coming to Saltscapes 2013 because we hope to:
- Share, inform, and encourage support for local agriculture
- Inform people about how the CSA concept can help keep our food production local and sustainable
- Get more bookings for our Farm Stay at TapRoot
- Sell our staple share option (our goal this year was 50)
- Have fun meeting new people
So, we're still looking for homes for some staple shares, and will look forward to lots of bookings coming in for Swallow's Nest and Walden Camp, but other than that we definitely achieved our goals! We talked to lots of people excited about CSA, but even more who didn't know what it was, and those are the ones who we're really glad to have met! If nothing else, we increased the market for pea shoots by about 10,000 people! I think there was only one lady all day who didn't love them, and she said "for a vegetable, it's pretty good. But it's still a vegetable!" To each her own, I guess.
On the farm we have a small little shed that has been unloved for the ten years we've had the farm in Canard.
I would like to give this shed some long over due love.
Here is the rough idea: we create a water stop for bikers and walkers or anyone needing a drink of water. We fix up the shed to be a fresh market stand on weekends with a freshly cooked food component - all cooked from our farm produce (like Slow Food take aways:)). We put composting toilets in and a hand washing area. And on top of that we have the history of Canard in pictorial and text inside and outside the shed.
My vision for this is that the business model would cover all the costs and that all of the profit would go to charitable iniatives that we support: Annapolis Valley Farm Land Trust, Farmers Helping Farmers, Slow Food, Ecology Action Centre, ACORN, and others in our region.
So, what do you think?
First we need a vision for the look (and possibly some permits and permisson). Here is where I am stumped. I thought I would send these pictures out to you. If you have an eye for these sorts of things (or a degree in it:)), send back your graphic of what it could look like (not a lot of work, just a sketch that you see, a starting vision).
We will create a team to choose a design vision we like best and then we will acknowledge the 'winning' design with all of your information on the shed when it is finished.....like speading the word. (Something like: this TapRoot (stop/shed/market/???) design was inspired by: x ) Sound fun?? If so, spread the word.
I'd love to know your thoughts.
(and yes, in truth I am tring to find a fun and creative way that doesn't cost money to get ideas......no insults intended)
...Would make TapRoot a very dull place, indeed! Good thing we have lots of things around to inspire us to be silly!
<--Tim shows off a ridiculously large carrot that we found in the rainbow carrots from Swetnam Farms... Seriously, the thing was a club (I say "was" because Josh ate it). We considered entering it in a giant vegetable contest, and then figured that if they send it to us, they probably have EVEN BIGGER carrots in their arsenal. Wow. That's a big carrot!
Justine, with the same carrot, which made the rounds at the farm.--->
(I hope Josh washed it before he ate it!!)
Here's Justine again, with a ridiculously large squash. It was funnier at the time, because it took a while to snap the photo, and her arm was getting tired from hold it. Notice it is twice the size of her head! We were loading the van for the Kingston drop, and this guy spilled out of a box.
I tried to snap a photo Tim and Jon bagging spinach this morning. Tim gave his nicest, best smile, and Jon was less cooperative (notice how Tim looks exactly the same in both photos... And Jon does not!)
Finally... Invariably, if you enter the office after 10 am, you're bound to hear stomachs growling. Falicia is sweet and always offers to share her morning snack (or maybe she feels sorry for me, tummy grumbling so loud beside her!). Anyhow, she had some carrot chips today, and in the middle of eating them, held one up and said: "Look how beautiful this carrot is!!". So, we had to take a picture. It IS beautiful. Or, maybe we are just nerds.
I hope you are nerds, too, and that you will send me your funny photos... Kids holding big squash or turnips, heart-shaped potatoes, carrots intertwined, et cetera. We'll make sure to send along some of our favourites in your boxes, so that you can play the game, too. We'll call it "You Don't See this in the Grocery Store", and we can giggle over our delicious, nutritious, and occasionally-imperfect fresh farm goodies together!