I feel this need to be close to the earth. To have my hands in the dirt. I don't necessarily want the life of the farmer, but to some how work with farmers. To bring their food back to the city, to have people eating healthy. If anyone knows of a job like this, please let me know :)
On our tour of the Okanagan, Martin and I visited 4 organic farms. Each with similar, yet unique ways of farming. We came during the winter, when the farmers were just begining to plant, but had lots of time to talk with us and introduce us to their farms. Each of them were so welcoming and hospitable and each quite the characters.
Stoney Paradise is run by Milan, a manic depressive man in his 40s and his parents, who own the farm and the land. They predominately grow table grapes and tomatoes, but like all the farmers have a diverse crop for a secure income. The permaculture training in me will also tell you that a diverse crop helps with pest control, as there are then a variety of smells to confuse the bugs. Having plants that encourage good, predator bugs to eat the bad, crop-destructive bugs is vital as well. Right, back to Milan. He uses compost as well as fish fertilizers. He grows only hybrid tomatoes (a practice I disagree with). And is probably best known for his coronation grapes, which I got to sample in the form of sauce for a blue cheese course. However, the fact that he gets such a crop and such variety out of his incredibly rocky, or shall I say stony, soil is amazing.
Next up were the Klippersteins who run Klippers Organic Acres. Kevin, Anna-Marie and their 4 children live on and work 10 or so acres in a gorgeous valley outside of Cawston. They have fruit trees, grow ground crops and have about 100 chickens which they use as pest control, for fertilizer and the organic eggs that they sell. Anna-Marie seed saves (yeah!) and they both seem to love having their hands in the dirt. The sprout their seeds on a bed of sand that covers heat coils. Interesting method, but they get about 100% germenation. They are beginning to experiment with bio-dynamics, which is using enzyme compositions to help enrich your soil, something I'd just begun to learn about in Thailand and while parts of it seem a bit hippy too me (burying a cowhorn on the full moon), I think it merits further exploration.
The next farm we visited, Snowy Mountain, also is employing the use of biodynamics. Snowy Mountain, run by Lauren Sellars and Walter Harvey, is a money maker of a farm. Loads of fruit trees, ground crops, chickens and horses. They use the horses for the plowing and sell the colts and being that the horses are Norwegian Fjords, they sell them at quite a profit. They seem to be quite happy and doing very well. Building has been going on for a few years now on a huge and beautiful strawbale house where they'll easily be able to feed all the workers and WWOOFers in the summer, when it's eventually finished.
Last, but not least, Sapo Bravo Organics, run by Katie and Gabriel up in the mountains outside of Lytton. This is the definition of over the river and through the woods. You have to take a ferry across the Fraser River then drive 18 kilometers on a gravel road on native lands to get to their hilltop farm. Beautiful views, more great fruit trees, garlic popping up through a mulch of hay and Katie in the green house starting the seeds she has saved or gotten from Canada's seed savers. They plant only heirlooms, use only compost which they're making from organic goat manure and are beginning to harvest their own rabbit manure. They have gorgeous worker residences for the people that come help them on the farm. Gabriel is very open to the ideas of permaculture. This is the one farm that I would like to come spend more time on working and learning and sharing. Maybe a few weeks in September will find me there...