It All Started With the Cattle . . .
We purchased Earth Haven Farm in 2006. A 200 acre farm located at the end of a dead end road in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. The property had sat vacant for over six years and had no chemicals used on it for at least 4-6 more years previous. This made it perfect for our plans of organic and biodynamic farming.
Over the next couple of years we would work and prepare the farm to bring forth our vision.
In the fall of 2008 we purchased ten purebred Scottish Highland Cattle and in 2009 we purchased a breeding bull. Many thanks to Joan Wort of Tweed, Ontario for mentoring and assisting us with this breed. Joan has been a breeder and member of the Canadian Scottish Highland Cattle Society for over 25 years and we are indebted to her for her incredible knowledge and tremendous heart.
2018 was a very disappointing year. We were not able to get the help that we have had in previous years, thus our expectations were not met and a lot of projects did not get done and many crops were neglected or completely left unattended. The drought at the beginning of the summer greatly affected our fruit and berry production. The drought was then followed by too much rain. Needless to say, some things did well and some things did not.
Emily Vander Wey took over the role of full time field manager and we are extremely grateful and indebted to her for all her hard work and dedication.
Sales at farmers markets are down from previous years, but this seems to be a trend with many other farmers such as ourselves. CSA programs are growing stronger each year and we will be looking to expand our program in 2019.
Production of preserves in our kitchen worked out great this year. Our tomato harvest was exceptional this year. Thanks to Lily (our chef) we have been able to make lots of sauce to have available for sale over the winter months.
Aric's trip to Italy and connections with Slow Food International was quite the experience and well worth the trip and expenditure. Hoping to grow this connection and attend this event again in two years.
Bees continue to be a learning experience, however, we go into winter with no losses and look forward to opening the hive up in the springtime.
2017, was an incredibly busy year. The learning centre building construction was completed and the Earth Haven Learning Centre opened its doors for business conducting workshops, attending events across the province, selling books and publishing the annual Celestial Planting Calendar.
In the middle of the busiest time of the season, Kathryn unfortunately fell off a ladder while picking mulberries and seriously broke her leg. This put a lot of extra strain on everyone to pick up her duties. The garlic harvest was the best ever leaving us with the ability to sell garlic in bulk orders.
Partnering with the Vander Wey farm in growing additional corn, beans, squash and potatoes has allowed us to increase those items. Having Emily Vander Wey take on the responsibility of the CSA program has proven to be an incredible asset.
As much as introducing bee hives to Earth Haven Farm did not work out as well as expected, we are hopeful for a more productive 2018. We will chalk bees up to a learning experience for this year.
Once again, we were able to obtain funding through (IAPO) Indian Agricultural Program of Ontario for the purchase of raspberry, grape and hawethorne berries which will allow us to expand our permaculture crops over the coming years.
2016, has seen us take off in a big way. With the help of a full time intern for the entire growing season from April through October we were able to expand our market garden to almost double its size. We built a cold room which allows us to keep produce fresh during the hot summer months. We added a small CSA and an RSA program selling to local restaurants. This was a result of our intern's incubatorship initiatives.
2015, was our first year producing shitake and oyster mushrooms in our forest near one of our ponds. More permaculture, fruit and nut trees are planted for future food offerings.
2014, we received a grant through (IAPO) Indian Agricultural Program of Ontario that allowed us to extend our existing ponds and put in an irrigation system to supply water to our market garden acreage.
2013, we added additional solar panels to the roof of the house to supply our off-grid living lifestyle. We added an 40' camping trailer and an outhouse facility for use by farm interns and WOOF'ers to use.
2012, Qunite Organic Farmers Co-op folds and Aric takes over exclusivity at Evergreen Brickworks farmers market in Toronto and The Village Market in Richmond Hill.
2011, we added solar panels and several other energy-independent additions to the home and farm. Kathryn and Rosemary Tayler started teaching introduction to biodynamics in Eastern Ontario.
In 2010, Aric began working with Indian Agriculture of Ontario (IAPO) to help promote and mentor small farming and agricultural practices to other aboriginal farmers. This is something that Aric has become passionate about and it has lead to a number of wonderful working relationships, shared knowledge and products which he is able to make available at his farmers markets.
2009, saw us growing in our skills with biodynamic practices through education offered by the Biodynamic Society of Ontario. We expanded the garden and the orchard.
2008, Aric became a full time farmer. We purchased our tractor and a few more pieces of equipment to get started with hay and tilling the garden. We became Demeter Certified and Aric became a market manager for Quinte Organic Farmers Co-op at the Evergreen Brickworks farmers market in Toronto.
2007, we purchased our initial core herd of purebred Scottish Highland Cattle in the fall. Aric started working part-time off the farm, while Kathryn continued working full-time off the farm. We purchased a few pieces of farm equipment and began construction of the greenhouse.
2006, we purchased the farm. Aric continued driving transport across Canada. Kathryn moved to the farm and got things started.
Over the years we have become associated with some great organizations and people that are just as committed to organic agricultural practices, sustainability and living simple lives with purpose as we are. We have seen our farm blossom in so many ways. Knowing that there are others out there with the same drive brings us strength and peace for the journey ahead, wherever that might take us!