Thursday, July 30, 2009


Big thanks to friends who survived our first vegetable delivery into the City. I think it went okay...apart from some rookie mistakes involving woody radishes and a lack of cilantro, things could be a lot worse delivering leafy greens in an non - airconditioned car in the midsts of a heat wave!

We hope to have more veggies coming your way next week on Aug 8th where we expect to be at our very first Abbotsford Farmers Market.

Anyways, I was just cleaning out my computer files on my second to last day of my day job and came across this rad New Farmer's Manifesto written by one of the most inspiring new farmers activists groups, The Greenhorns, from our neighbour Down South. The original version may be found at I have reposted it here for your reading enjoyment.

The young farmers now emerging onto the land seek to reclaim, restore, and resettle the deserted rural towns of America. We are similarly poised to revive the fabric of urban life with markets, gardens, bees, corn patches and waterways. Motivated by a force of intention that cannot be rationalized economically, with lives driven by an instinct for direct action and stewardship that honors the planet, people, and place, we are the allies of every American. Our instincts are emboldened by the mercury shatter of dew on the broccoli plants at dawn, by the roar of pollinators in a flowering crop of buckwheat, and by the river of neighbors streaming through the farm-gate clamoring for “real” tomatoes and happy chickens. The hands of young farmers on the land seek to push forward an agenda of sustainability on a human scale.

There is much to learn, and there is much, as a culture, that we risk forgetting. We need these bodies, we need their work, we need their food and their protagonism. We need young farmers to succeed and we need that success to be rewarded.

As fledgling farmers and activists within this community, we see these to be some of the key political, economic, and cultural requirements for that success:

- A hospitable policy environment that prioritizes a next generation of food producers — not massive corporate subsidies, not cheap imports from across the world
- A regulatory framework friendly to smaller producers
- Affordable credit for capitalization of diversified farms
- Public-private partnerships to give aspiring farmers better access to farmland
- University research focused on low-input, resilient, sustainable production
- Practical, school-based, agricultural training programs (hands in the soil)
- Reformed land-use proscriptions at the community and state level — some land and soil should never be developed
- Incubator farms to rear and train fledgling farmers and an Agricultural Journeymen program to help people navigate the path from aspiring farmer to successful new farmer.
- Processing infrastructure and facilities for fruits, meats, dairy, etc. at the local scale
- State-sponsored direct-marketing venues — covered markets, public markets, and friendly zoning for farmers markets and farm-stands
- Comprehensive, affordable health insurance for farmers and food-workers
- Improved state-sponsored nutrition programs for at-risk, elderly and civic establishments.
- Start-up grants and an expansion of Individual Development Accounts, matched-savings program for qualified young farmers, to afford irrigation, tools, equipment, fencing, land, production infrastructure, etc.
- A cultural revaluation of farming as an ambitious, worthwhile life-venture, celebrated by family, church, and society
- Fiscal underwriting of farm-supportive NGOs and programs
- Songs, dances, parties, and festivals for young farmers in the countryside
- High-speed internet connectivity in rural places
- New farmer forums for networking, marketing, resource-sharing, processing, and farmer-to-farmer exchanges
- Access to locally grown seed and protection from transgenic pollution
- Fair wages and equal labor rights for all farmworkers, even those with “illegal” status
- Consumer education about the realities and true cost of food production
- More consumer/producer alliances such as community supported agriculture and community food cooperatives

And what is success?
Success is an edible future, when local populations are fed by local fields and sensible nutrition is affordable and accessible. Where we address poverty and hunger, not with biotechnology, but with long-term access to the means of production, and with proximity to that productive plenty which we can achieve only with careful stewardship of our soil and land base — a wealth immeasurable in dollars. Success is a smooth energy transition, a satisfying daily bread, a culture in which we have restored honor, and respect to the profession of farming.

Call to arms
Arms strong and hands calloused, eyes open to the beauty of every morning. Our spirits are prepared for the long row still to hoe, our hearts full with the support of family and community. Let us unite, young farmers! Let us fight for the right to farmable land! To the pursuit of an equitable marketplace, and for recognition from society. We are here, we are indispensable, we are a cornerstone of the future of food. Let us welcome many new entrants into agriculture, striving to share our lessons, seeds and stories with generations to come. Now is the time for action.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Beginnings

It is probably appropriate for our first official blog post to give everyone a little background info about Skeeter Farm and the three new farmers who are currently working the land. We are: Hannah, Amy and Jamie. Three folks with diverse backgrounds, none of which include farming. We are teachers, government workers, athletes, friends, family, creators, thinkers, ecologically minded, nervous and excited.

We got our humble beginnings through the help two a fantastic groups in Abbotsford, the Abbotsford Food and Agriculture Connection Table (AFACT) and the Barrowtown Agriculture Development Society (BADS) who are working to help new farmers get started producing by helping to secure access to land and resources. We are their pilot project, but they have big things in store for all new farmers who are looking for a similar start.

Skeeter Farm is a 14 acre beautiful, scenic, piece of farmland situated in East Abbotsford, British Columbia. It is owned by the City of Abbotsford who has graciously leased it to BADS to allow new farmers to start their businesses. The property has fantastic tall trees, grasslands, wildlife and is surrounded by water. It is within the Agricultural Land Reserve which, in BC, protects farmland from certain types of development and ensures its primary purpose is for agricultural production.

We have been told by our neighbours that the land has not been worked for 2o years, which has certainly presented its challenges with site preparation and weeding, but is also a great advantage to the health of our soil and our ability to create a farm that works for us.

The decision to enter a farm partnership happened in early April 2009, and site preparation including mowing, ploughing and soil prep happened in mid May. Which is quite a late start for the vegetable farming done here in the Fraser Valley. Despite the late start, there has been a flurry of activity and we are close to having most of our seed for the 2009 season in the ground.

There is an incredible learning curve associated with this type of farm start up. Everything from planning your planting, crop interactions, interpreting soil tests and plant nutrient needs, installing irrigation, buying equipment, starting a business etc, etc. We have been extremely lucky to have the support of the community and certain industry experts which we have no doubt annoyed with some silly questions over the last few months.

As for our growing methods, we will be cultivating weeds, not rounding them up, nurturing our soil and feeding our plants with recycled nutrients from our farm, green manures and manure local livestock producers, trying to keep ahead of the bugs and grubs with careful planning and non-chemical tricks, reusing and upcycling as much equipment and materials as possible, valuing the wildlife we share the site with and maintaining habitat. That being said, our product will not be certified organic as we will be lucky enough to have the opportunity to explain our growing methods to each of our customers.

Our product will be primarily sold at the Abbotsford Farmers Market in downtown Abbotsford starting mid August and through a small weekly box program.

This blog will be a story about three newbie farmers, our thoughts and feelings, experiences, challenges and successes. Stay tuned for more from myself, Hannah and Jamie.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Welcome to the Skeeter Farm Blog!

This is a place for us to post about our trials and tribulations as new farmers. Boy oh boy do we have a lot to learn.