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Farmer Profile: Food Ethos Farm
My Farmers’ Market has recently started working with Food Ethos Farm. You can purchase all kinds of wonderful local and spray-free veggies grown at Food Ethos Farm through the My Farmers’ Market online grocery store and get them delivered straight to your door!
Ashley recently spoke with me about the farming practices they use at Food Ethos. Read on to get a sneek peak into their farm.
1) What made you decide to start farming?
There were a number of reasons we got into farming. Curtis got diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and shortly after that we went to Asia where he thought he would have trouble with all the food being spicy. Turns out it was the best he had been in a long time due to the fact that all the food is fresh! That is when we figured out his trouble was more about processed foods; whole foods, he was great with. We changed the way we look at health, starting with what we put in our bodies.
A friend had told me to try a Manitoba Farm Mentorship internship and I tried my hand at working on a farm for a season. We like being outside and growing things and had a family farm to go back to, so we just went for it and have never looked back.
2) Why is growing your own food important to you?
Growing our own food is important to us because it means we will never be hungry. This is our way to ensure we have lots of healthy good quality food all the time. We found something we love, and by farming and selling food we have found a way to make a living and a job out of it.
3) What have been some of your biggest challenges in farming?
Some of our biggest challenges in farming have been finding employees; you get to the point where you can’t work more, and there are not enough hours in a day to get in everything that needs to be done. There are not a lot of people who want to do this work! Another big challenge has been finding a work-life balance which goes hand-in-hand with the amount of work it takes to run a farm. This is something I think most farmers struggle with, as farming is a lifestyle and work and life blend together.
4) What have been some of your biggest successes in farming?
One of our biggest successes, which is ongoing, is returning to a century family farm to take it out of conventional production. This is our first year back and so far we have put 5 acres into fruit and veggies using minimal till. We have also taken another 50 acres out of conventional grain production and put it back into pasture. We have 800 acres; our goal is to take it all out of conventional production and we are looking for help to make that a reality.
5) What’s a day in the life of Food Ethos Farm like?
A day in the life of Food Ethos Farm is a tough question. We are a mixed farm, so days are very different.
Harvest day we are in the field at 5:30 am, harvesting and preparing for market in Winnipeg. With driving time and being at the market, the day ends around 9 pm.
Some days are spent more in the garden; weeding, mulching, harvesting, and trying to decide how to design the garden in the future. Some days we spend more time with projects; checking fence, making feed, and moving to new pasture. But every day animals need to be fed, watered, and checked for signs of disease or injury.
Typical days start around 7am and last about 10 – 16 hours, and usually a small to large disaster will occur, as little as the pigs getting out, or the neighbour’s bull getting in with our cows, to as big as waking up each night at 3:30am, and chasing away coyotes from the chicken egg mobile, for a week straight.
Admin work is almost a full-time job, as well; we spend at least 10 – 15 hours a week, but it’s been over 20, on admin work. We just do what we can when it comes to getting paper work done, responding to emails, and updating our various media outlets. Some days are uplifting and full of talks about the future of the farm and all our great ideas, and some days are gloomy and depressing when we figure a crop is / has failed, or an employee unexpectedly leaves and we know the work load has just got almost impossibly harder.
This type of schedule has ups and downs; crises and quiet days happen on a weekly if not daily manner. Farm life is one of most extreme roller coasters I’ve ever been on, and it’s really quite hard to describe so that others can fully comprehend, as it really needs to seen and felt to be believed.
6) If there’s one thing you’d want Winnipeggers to know about good farming practices, what would it be?
If there’s one thing we would want Winnipeggers to know about good farming practices, it would be that the health of our soils and surrounding environment is extremely important. If we are not taking care of that, we will not have very productive growing land. Integrating multi crop and animal systems is the best way to increase productivity, and ward off pest and disease issues.
7) Do you have any tips to share for how people can eat healthier?
Our tips on how people can eat healthier are:
1. Know your farmer and their farming practices! Ask questions, and be involved with your food – find out who grows it and how it’s grown. If there is something you are looking for that your farmer doesn’t produce, ask them where you can get it. Odds are they know someone who produces it!
2. Get back in your kitchen. Learn to cook with new ingredients and eat whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible.
3. Eat in season and eat localas much as you can. Buy in bulk from local farmers when they have produce in season, and learn to can, freeze, ferment, dehydrate, and smoke the food.
4. Get your hands dirty. Check out a U-pick, use Fruit Share, grow your own produce, or go help your farmer out for a day and learn how to do it.
5. Get involved in the food system. Learn about the food system and regulations in your city and in your province, and vote for the food system you want to see! Vote with your ballots and with your dollars.
8) What else can you tell us about Food Ethos Farm?
Two of our big projects coming up are a) to grow / raise all the food for our wedding, and b) help others to start their own farm ventures on our land to help us reach our goal of taking 800 acres out of conventional production.