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Do you love pastured and/or free-range chicken? Read on!

- by Kalynn Spain

Have you ever wondered why you can buy a whole chicken at a farmers market, but not a cut product such as chicken breasts or wings? The answer is that chicken is a food product that is highly regulated for both health and economic reasons.

This system is called supply management. It is meant to ensure a fair and consistent return to farmers. This helps them meet the costs of producing safe and healthy food. Supply management is run by the Manitoba Chicken Producers, and is regulated by a board appointed by the provincial government.

The number of meat chickens one farm can produce is controlled by the Chicken Producers. Large producers are given a quota of birds they can produce. Even the smallest of these farms produce at least 100,000 birds per year. These chickens are delivered live to large processors who prepare them for retail sale. Small farmers who raise no more than 999 are exempt from the quota system, but must carry the costs of preparing the birds for market.

Until now there has also been a middle category granting exemptions by application for producers who serve special markets. In some cases, farms have relied on these exemptions for generations.

Recently the Manitoba Chicken Producers Association announced that they were changing the way in which the small exemption holders would be allowed to raise different categories of meat birds.

These changes mean that some exemption producers will have to limit their production to less than 1/3 of their former sales, which will threaten the viability of their farm. Alternatively, they can pay significant ‘administrative’ fees assessed by MCP under this new program.

Farmers raising small numbers of birds (under 999) as well as these exemption holders fill an important demand from consumers who want to buy birds directly from the farmer, either at the farm gate or at farmers’ markets. These farms also fill demand for specialty birds such as larger roasting birds, Halal etc. These new regulations threaten the viability of their farms and thus limiting consumer choice.

Direct Farm Manitoba met with Mr. Wayne Hiltz, CEO of Manitoba Chicken Producers to express the concerns raised by the exemption holders as well as the many questions from farmers raising under the 999 limit. Mr. Hiltz agreed to attend a meeting held on November 1st to answer questions and clarify the new program. While significant concerns were raised with various aspects of the program, Mr. Hiltz committed to bringing the feedback back to his Board and that they would ‘try to be flexible’.

Subsequently, DFM formally appealed the new Specialty Quota Program along with the impacted exemption holders, asking that MCP suspend the new program, consult with impacted farmers and make changes that create or maintain viable small scale chicken producers in Manitoba.

On December 12th, 2016, Direct Farm Manitoba was advised that the appeal has been rejected and no changes will be made to the Program. Direct Farm Manitoba intends to appeal to the Manitoba Farm Products Council in the hopes that they will move to maintain a sustainable market for small scale farmers to raise birds in high demand by the public such as pastured chicken.

Direct Farm Manitoba is pushing forward to the next level of formal appeal with the Manitoba Farm Products Council immediately. If you like getting your chicken from your local farmer, we need your voice!

1. Write or Call the Minister of Agriculture
Hon. Ralph Eichler
Phone: 204-945-3722
Fax: 204-945-3470
165 Legislative Building
450 Broadway
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8

2. Write or Call the Deputy Minister of Agriculture
Deputy Minister's Office
Dori Gingera-Beauchemin
Dori.Gingera-Beauchemin@gov.mb.ca
Phone: 204-945-3734
Fax: 204-948-2095

3. Write or Call Wayne Hiltz, Executive Director of the Manitoba Chicken Producers
whiltz@chicken.mb.ca
Tel: 204 489 4603
Fax: 204 488 1163

4. Write or Call the Manitoba Farm Products Marketing Council
Patty Rosher
Director, Boards, Commissions, and Legislation
(204)-945-1294
(204) 945-0630

 

The Beginning of Small Farms Manitoba

- by Kalynn Spain

Back in the spring of 2013, Kalynn Spain decided to take a road trip across Manitoba with a small grant, a used car and connections with about 12 farmers who offered to host her in different parts of the province. Her goal? To develop as many more connections with farms as she could feasible create in the span of one summer. The result? The beginning of Small Farms Manitoba.

An except of Kalynn's first letter to farmers reads:

My plan for this summer is to embark on working tour of sustainable farms in Manitoba from May to October, exploring new and familiar farms with the following intentions:

  • Acquire through hands-on experience different methods of growing, raising and caring for vegetables, livestock, grains, bees and berries (with the ultimate goal of identifying more clearly for myself what type of farming I would like to pursue)
  • Meet new people and further develop my relationships in the small farm community
  • Learn about the types of local food markets that exist and are still being developed
  • Discern what terms like ‘sustainable’, ‘trust organic’ and ‘organically-grown’ mean to farmers who use them in their marketing strategies (and to those who do not!)
  • Gain feedback on the potential of creating an online database and network of sustainable farmers in Manitoba and discuss what this could look like

As an aspiring farmer, Kalynn was hoping to gain not only stories and photos from each of the farms for the website, but also experience working on these farms and learning about them in a hands-on way. While she didn't have a ton of time to dive deeper into projects, Kalynn learned a bit about how a wide variety of direct-marketing farms work, from fruit U-picks to grass-fed beef operations to organic grain processors to CSAs to apiarists - a little bit of everything that Manitoba has to offer!

Above: Locations in Manitoba visited by Kalynn in 2013

What she learned during this trip was that "small farms" have varying definitions for words like "sustainable" and "small" but that they all shared one thing in common: the desire to build relationships with eaters and with each other. The theme of relationships has emerged over the last two years as the community within SFM has grown to continue to help define what unites all of the farms.

"Direct-marketing" is a fancy word for "building relationships" - small farms are all working to develop deeper connections with their customers, through educational conversations, narrative packaging, environmentally-aware and often alternative farming practices, to name a few ways. Overall, these farms remain transparent about the production and management practices of their farms, and even encourage their customers to dig in, ask questions and get to know the who, what and how behind their food.

Below: Kalynn inside a combine on an organic farm near Treherne


The connections that Kalynn made on this road trip have lived on and still contribute to what is now Small Farms Manitoba (SFM), a directory of these farms and many more. Since 2013, over 50 farm and food businesses have joined SFM as members and we are all lucky to bear witness to them continuing to shape and grow the local food economy in Manitoba. We have learned about many new and unique farm products and hope to continue to learn about many more in years to come!

 

SMALL FARMS MANITOBA JOINS WITH NEW DIRECT FARM ASSOCIATION​

- by Kalynn Spain


Small Farms Manitoba has connected eaters with farmers for the past three years. It's founder, Kalynn Spain has worked hard to create these connections both online through the website and in person through speaking at conferences and running educational tours and events.

Direct Farm Manitoba has been active since its formation, meeting with our new Agriculture Minister, reaching out to various marketing and supply management boards to introduce themselves and establishing relationships with key staff within the Deptartment of Agriculture. They have outlined a one year strategic plan that focuses on connecting with and learning about the needs of their membership and finding effective, collaborative ways to ensure those needs are heard by those creating regulation and policy within the agriculture sector.


These two organizations within the agricultural sector are excited to announce that they are joining forces to strengthen support for the small farm community. As of January 2017, Direct Farm Manitoba will oversee all aspects of Small Farms Manitoba – Kalynn Spain will be working closely with the board over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition and to create a plan for our continued partnership.

Members of this combined organization will benefit from organized advocacy efforts, gain a voice at important venues where agricultural policy and regulations are discussed and receive updates and information regarding changes in the agriculture sector that may impact them along with enjoying the marketing support of the existing Small Farms Manitoba website and events.

Direct Farm Manitoba's Board of Directors are:

Phil Veldhuis, President (Phil's Honey)

Brad Anderson, Vice President (Anderson Farms)

Leanne Fenez, Secretary (Fenez Follies Farm)

Bruce Berry, Treasurer (Almost Urban Vegetables)

Stefan Regnier (Blue Lagoon Organics)

Rudy Reimer (Watersong Farms)

Chuck Leibert (Emma's Garden)


 

Order Your Local Turkey NOW!

- by Kalynn Spain

NOW is the time to place your order for ‪‎pastured‬ turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Farms to order from:

Fenez Follies Farm (La Barriere)

Breezy Way Farm (Morden)

Blue Lagoon Organics (St. FX)

Anderson Family Farm (Cypress River)


 

Time for Fruit Pickin'!

- by Kalynn Spain

Although strawberry season has sadly just ended, there are plenty of other types of berries to find these days across rural Manitoba. Some varieties will surprise you but in fact grow quite well on the prairies and make for some delicious eating both fresh now and thawed later from the freezer. Buy in bulk if you like to eat them year-round and make sure to lie them out on pans to freeze slightly before storing them in freezer bags to avoid frozen clumps.

Sour Cherries

Sour cherries have many more purposes than making one pucker - try them on cereal, in smoothies and even over roasted vegetables. A cherry pie is always a classic.

Fresh cherries too tangy for you? Prairie Adventure Farm in Carman sells them fresh, frozen and dried! Now you can try out these zippy little fruits in different ways and at your leisure - buy them frozen and pull them out later this winter for some experimenting or try sprinkling the dried ones over a salad this summer! Looking to buy in bulk? Check out Seine River UPic near Lorette.



Haskaps

These sweet "superfruits"are quite the berry - read about some of their health benefits from Haskap Canada. Many small farmers are starting to grow this berry due to their increasing popularity, but one farm that has experimented in growing them with great success is Riverbend Orchards just outside of Portage la Prairie.


Apples

While it often looks like only one type of apple can grow here in Manitoba - the famous crab apple - Clayton U-Pick Orchard has discovered over the years that over forty different varieties of apples can survive and thrive in this province. His U-pick (and pre-pick) near Virden will be opening soon with all kinds of apples and is currently offering cherries.



 

What's In-Season, Right Now

- by Kalynn Spain

Here's what you can find right now at Manitoba markets and on some farms. It's a great time of year to enjoy fresh greens, herbs and asparagus, but also never too late to begin the food storing process by freezing fruits and vegetables that won't be around for much longer.

Lemonbalm, Mint, Basil and other herbs for cooking and tea


Rhubarb for pies, juicing and more - don't forget to freeze some!



Asparagus for steaming, frying and baking - great for many dishes!


GREENS! Kale, Spinach, Lettuce, Green Onions, Swiss Chard - so many options!


Looking for inspiration in your in-season cooking?


Simply in Season provides a wide range of recipes based on in-season vegetables and fruits


 

Pastured Poultry: Place Your Orders Now!

- by Kalynn Spain

One of the most delicious and easiest local meats I have ever made is a whole chicken. I know what you might be thinking: chickens take time, but then I have to take out the roaster, yadda yadda. Making a chicken may seem like a daunting task, but when you cook one that comes straight from the farm that has been raised outside on pasture and cook it low.... and slow... the results are, well, pretty amazing.

What does pastured poultry mean?

Pastured poultry is the term used for chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese or other farm-raised birds that have been raised on grass for the entirety of their lives. Farmers order chicks from a hatchery in the spring and receive them sometime between April and June, depending on when they would like to have chickens ready for their customers. When the chicks are big enough (about 3 weeks old), the farmer will transition them from a warmed area to an outdoor area that is enclosed. Some farmers use " tractors" to raise their chickens in, which are moveable pens that keep the birds safe but provide them with fresh grass every day when the pen is moved. Once the birds are big enough (about 15 weeks old), the farmer will bring them to an inspected processing facility or will set up processing equipment on-farm. Poultry that has been processed on-farm can only be sold through a "farm gate" sale whereas poultry that has been processed in an inspected facility can be sold at markets and in stores (read more about this on our FAQ page).



How do you cook a pastured bird?

Cooking a bird from a farm, which has been raised differently than one you would buy in the grocery store, is much easier than you think. Follow these steps to get the juiciest chicken.

1) Allow the frozen bird to thaw out for one day prior to when you plan to cook it. Thaw the bird by submerging and leaving it in cold water or by placing it in a bowl and putting it in your fridge.

2) On the day of, allow yourself about 3 hours for cooking the chicken. Turn your oven first to 350 degrees. At 350 degrees, put the bird in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the outside is golden brown. This outside layer will lock in the flavour and juiciness of the chicken.

3) After the skin on the chicken has browned, turn the oven down to 250 degrees. Leave the chicken in the oven at this temperature for about 2.5 hours, and then check the internal temperature (82C, 180F). Once the bird is fully cooked, cut normally, but be careful of all of the juices that are hot and trapped beneath the skin of the bird.

4) Once your bird is ready, make a plan for using all of it. Will you be eating all of it in one night? Will you be using the bones to make a broth for soup? What other recipes and meals can you use chicken in? Keep in mind that you can cut up and freeze pieces of chicken for future use, as well as make broth by boiling the bones for 3-6 hours (overnight on low works too). Too much broth? Freeze that too!


Do pastured chickens eat grain?

Like humans, chickens need well-balanced diets that include sources of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins. Carbohydrates are necessary in a chicken’s diet for the production of fat, heat and energy. Cereal grains and their by-products are the most common sources of carbohydrates in poultry diets. Protein is necessary for growth and repair of body tissues, and can be sourced through meat scraps, fish meal, soybean meal, corn meal and hemp. Vitamins are necessary for health, growth, reproduction and the prevention of disease, and can be found in green grass and other forages as well as whole grains, wheat, corn and fish-based oils. These sources are only a few examples of where each of these dietary requirements can be found. So, in short... YES, pastured chickens eat grain :)

How does one buy pastured poultry?

Most farmers take orders for their poultry between March and June so that when the chickens are ready to go, the farmer knows exactly who they are going to! Pastured poultry is also one of the most popular local farm products, so ordering early on in the spring is the best plan of action for filling up your freezer when the birds are ready.

Farms that are currently taking orders:

Green Pastures Farm (chickens, whole, $3/lb.)

Tri-Pop Farm (chicken, whole, pieces and ground)

Rempel Family Farm (chickens, whole, $3.50/lb. - home-grown and -milled feed)

Fenez Follies Farm (chicken, ready in June, turkeys, ready in September)

Breezy Way Farm (chicken and turkey, Morden pick-up, home-milled feed)

Fostering Change Farm ($3.75/lb., delivery to Winnipeg)


 

​Sharing the Risk of Farming: Community Shared Agriculture (CSA)

- by Kalynn Spain

Starting a business can be risky, financially and practically. Farming, at any scale, is a business that comes with more risks than the average venture. Farmers face not only typical challenges in business, such as unpredictable sales and shifting marketplaces, but also factors that are ultimately governed by nature, such as weather patterns and insects. These elements within farming as a livelihood - be that a part or full-time living from farm-based activities - can make the business part even more stressful. In one day, hundreds of potential income can be lost.

So what does sharing the risk of farming mean for us eaters?


The CSA model is a response to the above issue, that farming can be very risky. While exact definitions may vary, the concept of Community Shared Agriculture or "CSA" is actually quite simple. In a CSA, the eater acknowledges the fact that farming is risky and takes on part of this risk by pre-paying for his or her vegetables before they even start growing. The types and amounts of vegetables can be different between CSA farms, but the overall agreement is the same: the eater pays one fee for a weekly supply of vegetables grown by the farmer, however the season goes!

The purchase of a CSA share is more than just buying local vegetables. By signing up for a share with a CSA farm, you are taking the first step to understanding what it means to be a farmer - the greatness and the risk!

CSA FAQ

1) When should I sign-up for a CSA share?
CSA farms start taking sign-ups in the spring, and usually fill up by May. So, April is the month to sign up! Reserve a spot to avoid disappointment!

2) When do I start getting vegetables?
You can expect your CSA share to start by mid-June - most CSAs run for at least 12 weeks. Your CSA farm will keep you informed on how the vegetables are doing and when you can expect to pick-up your first share!

3) How do I get my vegetables?
Most CSAs will have 1-3 locations that their customers can choose from to pick up their vegetables at the same time every week. Some CSAs deliver their shares to their customers' doors, but pick-up is the most common. The pick-up location will be open for a certain time window (i.e - 4-7pm).

Visit our CSA Page to find the CSA pick-up that is nearest you.

4) What do I get in a CSA share?
Each week, the CSA farm will harvest a weekly supply of vegetables for each of his/her customers and will divide up the harvest into "shares"

A typical share will contain a bit of each type of vegetable that is in season that week. For example, you may receive a few tomatoes, one pepper, one cabbage, and so on. The different sizes of shares are Half or Full and in theory will contain enough vegetables to feed a certain number of people.

Want to know even more about CSAs? Visit CSAManitoba.org

The best part about a CSA? Getting the freshest vegetables possible!



 

Recipe: Quinoa Brownies

- by Kalynn Spain

This recipe comes from Tamarack Farms, one of the first quinoa producers in Manitoba to sell directly to consumers. You can find these folks at St. Norbert Farmer's Market this summer.

Quinoa brownies

Ingredients

1/2 cup of quinoa

1 cup of water

1/2 cup of sugar (or appropriate amount of stevia)

1/2 cup of cocoa

1/4 cup of milk or 3/4 cups of coconut milk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons of coconut oil (if dairy milk is used)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

Icing sugar for decoration

Cooking Instructions

Cook 1/2 cup of quinoa with 1 1/2 cups of water in a pot on the stove. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until the quinoa is cooked and the water has cooked off. Let the quinoa sit in a bowl to cool. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a rectangular baking pan with coconut oil. Mix cooked quinoa with all other ingredients in a blender for two minutes until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and cook in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes. The brownies are ready when a wooden stick can be inserted and removed from the brownie without any moist and sticky dough. Let cool and cut into squares. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

 

The Viability of Small Farming

- by Maggie Bergen (student)

Maggie Bergen is a student within the U of M's School of Agriculture Diploma program. In the summer of 2015, she visited five farms of the members of Small Farms Manitoba and interviewed each of the farmers. She then wrote up a report, which we've published here on our blog. Enjoy!


Growing up on a commercial dairy farm, I always enjoyed the farm life. As good as the dairy was, I dreamt of the possibility of having a farm like my grandpa did; a couple of milking cows, a few pigs, some chickens, and a couple of cultivated acres for forage and cash crops. I was told though that one cannot have a profitable farm farming the way grandpa used to. Years after setting that dream aside I started hearing about small farms that were not only running, but were profitable. I yearned to learn more about the small farming practices and how it was sustainable. Therefore, I arranged to visit five different small farms and interview the farmers regarding the viability in small farms. In order to get the most out of the experience, the five farms were intentionally chosen in order that they would have different production, marketing, and years in the business. Visiting these farms helped me gain a better understanding of the value and viability of small farms.

In order to continue, we must look at what small farming means. Before visiting the farms and reading up on different small farms, I imagined small farms to simple, mixed farms that market their production from home and/or markets. I quickly realized that defining a small farm was not going to be so simple. Instead, we will look at commonalities that I observed, and how others have defined small farming. All five farms were owned and run by family with none or one employee. All the farms marketed their products directly, with relationships being a key focus. They meet a unique, niche market. And each farm values not only relationships, but also the health of the land, animals, and people. According to Small Farms Manitoba, a resource providing a place to connect small farms and consumers in Manitoba, “”Small Farm” refers not to land size, income or productivity but to the level of integrity that a farm carries” (Spain).

Small Farms Manitoba goes on to describe small farms as not being part of a marketing board, approaches social, economic and environmental impact, builds transparent relationships, work alongside other farmers, and strives to be a financially viable business.

As a farmer, what you produce and how you market your production can vary greatly.

This is especially true for small farmers. Not being tied into a marketing board, the opportunities for production and marketing are unique to each farm. I was taken by surprise by the variety of production practices occurring locally. I got the opportunity to visit an vegetable farm, a grassfed, an organic beef farm, a meat butchering and processing facility, a fruit farm, and an organic grain and milling facility. I was amazed by the availability of some of the products and services available so locally. And these are only five of the many small farms in Manitoba. There are far more available that I was not able to experience. Each farm has the freedom to produce what they like, how they would like. There is still of course government regulations that effect some producers more than others. For example, meat has to be processed and sold a certain way. Each farmer has the opportunity to meet consumer demands as well as what they are passionate about.

With the production practices being so unique, consequently the marketing will be unique to each farm as well. From direct marketing, whole-sale, farm-gate, farmers markets, to Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) the farmer can market their products in a way that caters to the consumers as well as the convenience for the farmer. One of the farms I visited sells most of their production to a local store where consumers can purchase their vegetables. The fruit farm on the other hand requires the consumers to come on the farm to purchase and/or pick their own fruit rather than buying it from a store. Another method is through Community Shared Agriculture, known as CSA. CSA is a great system for producers and consumers. For CSA, the consumer pays a set amount to the farmer for a basket of fresh produce every week. Whatever was produced that week, that is what the consumer will get in their basket. It provides a constant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. It is also beneficial for the farmer in that before the season has even started they have essentially already sold all their products. The farm fills the baskets each week for the consumers to pick up. It is a win-win for both producer and consumer. It is to each farm how they market. One farmer does a variety; individual sales, stores, and bakeries.

The role of a small farmers is different than an commodity farmer in that a small farmer not only producing the good, but are responsible for the product until it is in the hands of the consumer. This adds extra business practices such as advertising, traveling, informing consumers, marketing, and so forth.

By now it is probably easy to see that small farming is not the easiest career or lifestyle.

There is lots of work involved working independently. Therefore I asked, why do small farmers do what they do? What drove, or inspired them to this way of life? I was surprised that the responses I got were all fairly similar. It was not so much that they wanted to stay away from commodity farming, it was that they didn’t have enough land. Four of the five farms said that they wanted to farm, but with only having so much land, they had to find a way to use the land in a way that would be able to provide an income. They learned to work with what they had in a unique way that would be able to be viable. Be in organic, a value added good, or a product or service that was not available. Another reason is the ability to work independently. Having the freedom to run ones own business, not having to work for anyone else, being able to make all the decisions, and having the freedom to make changes. All the farms visited said that despite the hard work, they love what they do and would not trade it in for something else.

If the production of small farms is so unique, is there a consumer base that is able to support these unique, special businesses? This questions was the make-it-or-break-it for a business. If the consumer base, the demand, is there than small farming is viable. If the support is not there, than the future would look bleak. Fortunately, there was a resounding ‘yes’ when I asked each farm. Not one of them had trouble with finding consumers. The problem was rather not having enough product to meet consumer demand. The reason is due to a number of factors.

One, part of each farms decision on production was a result of seeing a demand that was not being met. The meat processing was a result of the farm having beef that needed slaughtering and there was no one available to butcher. Therefore, they started a business to meet a needed services. That is one example of a small farm developing to meet consumer demand. Another reason for not being able to meet demand is the lack of businesses targeting the markets that small farms target. Although there are a number of small farms in Manitoba, there are not enough to create competition. All five farms said that there was no competition at all. They wished to see more. The reason for there not being more small farms may be due to a lack of support, or people not being willing to commit to the lifestyle and hard work of a small farmer. The reason is uncertain. What is certain though is that right now the demand exceeds the supply.

With the demand so high, the future of small farms looks bright. Farmers markets are growing, publicity is increasing, more small farms are developing, and demand continues to increase.

Every farm I talked to was very optimistic about the future of small farming and direct marketing. Reason for the growth is the desire for people to know where their food is coming from. Having a face to the farmer that produced the food allows for assurance that the food one is eating is of better quality than that from mass production. More people are starting to want healthier food, better environmental practices, and understanding of food production. One farmer said that part of the growth will be from mothers. As mothers continue to see their children get sick, they will demand for better food. The mothers will want to know where their food is coming from, and demand better farming practices. Small farmers are already catering to the demand for organic, relational farming which most commodity farmers are not catering to. As small farming and direct marketing continues to increase, co-operatives will develop, farmers markets will evolve from seasonal, weekly markets to year-round, daily markets. One thing to be aware of though, as one farmer pointed out, is that if direct marketing increases there is a concern of the loss of local stores. This concern is something to keep in mind in development in order to help the local stores continue. In order for direct marketing, small farming to increase there is a need for government support financially and providing better options for production and marketing that cater to small farmers. Encouragement will also be necessary for existing as well as new farmers amongst each other as well as from society. I heard it over and over that the work is hard. The small farmers need encouragement to keep doing what they are doing, and that the hard work is valued.

As a small farmer, the work of a small farmer is seen as valuable and worth the hard work. A small farmer does not view what they do as merely a job, but it is a lifestyle. Small farming is a lifestyle they chose to live because they enjoy the independence, the work, the holistic approach to valuing relationships to people and the land. There are many niche markets and demand that commercial farming is not able to meet, therefore it is important to for small farmers to be able to provide products and services that are not being met. One farmer I visited focuses much of their farming practices on restoring the land. The need to restore the land is important, and the ability to do so will only be viable at a small scale. Large farms are not able to cater to each acre of land as a small farmer is. Therefore for land restoration small farming is essential. Another example is organic products. More people want organic products for better health and for better land. Small farming is important for providing that with a relational aspect as well.

As small farming grows, what do the commercial farmers think, and how does it effect

them? Well, the relationship between small farmers and commercial farmers so far has been very good. I asked the farms about relationships with commercial farmers and there was no opposition at all. Some said there was no relationship at all, but most said that their neighbouring commercial farmers were supportive and even encouraged their work. While small farms and commercial farms are farms, the work and market they are meeting are very different. They are both working very different industries which allows for no competition or tension but rather support from a different perspective. One commercial farmer approached a small farmer and told them that what the small farmer was doing was very good work. We need to take better care of our land and animals. He wanted to encourage this farmer to keep of the hard work. Having the opportunity to visit these five farms was a great experience and gave me a better perspective as to the commitment and hard work involved in running a small farming business. I was surprised by the diversity in small farming. The opportunities to experiment, to try new products, new methods, and new services are available. One has to be open to changes, to failures, and to hard work. Yet, even though it was not easy, they were all happy to talk and share what they are doing. This was a sign that they did what they loved. They found joy and satisfaction in their work. While I could paint a picture that makes small farming look so glorious, it was not all glorious. The challenge of the amount of work was evident. Many of the farmers were tired. They have worked hard to develop the business, and they continue to have to work hard to keep it running and growing. Some of them said how much they look forward to when they can spend more time with family. It was somewhat discouraging to see the need for more support in labour. There needs to be more people willing to work hard like these farmers. I was also motivated to make more of a point to buy locally, to support these ambitious farmers. Hopefully one day I will have the opportunity to work with a small farmer and possibly run my own small farm business.

Experiencing these few farms proved that with determination, hard work, and a dream, small farming has a bright future and for the right people is a viable business and lifestyle to embark in. If the farm currently was not financially viable, the future showed that it would soon be sustainable and able to continue to grow. If you would ask a small farmer if investing in a small farming business would be viable, they would respond with a ‘yes’, and encourage you through the journey.

References

DeRuyck, Fran. Personal Communication. June 2015.

Erlandson, Evan. Personal Communication. June 14, 2015.

Hildebrandt, Dean and Tiina. Personal Communication. June 17, 2015.

Smith, Wayne and Edith. Personal Communication. June 2015.

Spain, Kalynn. Retrieved August 2015. https://www.smallfarmsmanitoba.com/producers

Williment, Wayne and Colette. Personal Communication. June 2015.

 

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