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(N.B. These tours are being held later that originally scheduled on the annual calendar.)
Eastern Farm tour at Peter Biemond, Iroquois, Ont.
Saturday, Juy 22.
Peter milks 30 F1 crosses (Jersey and Brown Swiss), has three bunker silos, an ownerbuilt home with outdoor water furnace, and "simple solutions".
Western Farm Tour at Triangle Farm (Ineke Booy and Martin De Groot), Teviotdale, Ont. July 23. (see Feature Farm article)
Peterborough area Farm Tour, Peter Leahy, Duoro, Ont.
Tuesday, July 25.
Highlights include production of spelt, flax, soybeans, millet and other grains, topics discussed: rotation, weed control and marketing.
An Executive's Guide to Farming
This program will be held at Georgian Bay College in Collingwood on April 8. This is intended to provide a roadmap to profitable, ecologically sound farming. Presenters include Dan Needles, Ken McMullen and David Cohlmeyer. Cost is $179 per person, ($325 per couple). For more info call 705-444-0923, or fax 444-6376.
Holistic Resource Management Workshop
by Steve Martin
RR 1, Clifford N0G 1M0 519-327-2493
The first three day segment of the Holistic Resource Management (HRM) course was held on January 19, 20, 21 at the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority office. We were given a basic introduction to holistic management, and worked on setting a goal for our individual operations.
The first step is to define the "whole" under management, that is, in terms of people, land base and money.
The second step is setting a three part goal. This is a statement that includes quality of life expectations, forms of production (how will we achieve this quality of life) and a description of our landscape at some point in the future.
At the basis of this management system is the assumption that anything we do on our farms will have some effect on the whole ecosystem. We want to manage in such a way that we do not harm the ecosystem. (Editor's note: In HRM you also presume your actions can be detrimental, and therefore you monitor frequently to see if you're negatively affecting the ecosystem.)
The second session of the course (held February 16,17,18) dealt with financial planning. It was exciting to see people who hated working with numbers, finding this part of the course enjoyable. We learned some unconventional methods to help us "plan for profit" instead of hoping for something left over.
I am eagerly looking forward to the third session of the course and would highly recommend this course to anyone who values quality of life, relationships and our fragile ecosystem.
I believe that Holistic Resource Management can give us the tools necessary to make agriculture indefinitely sustainable; something every previous agrarian civilization failed to do.
Bernhard Hack's Seminar
by Mike Pembry
I had to apologize to Belfountain residents for taking up most of the available parking space along the road on Saturday Jan. 21. The reason was an influx of cars owned by the 35 or more people who came to hear Bernhard Hack in the Belfountain village hall.
Bernhard was here on his usual winter sojourn from helping farmers in Russia, and to immunize himself from the sad state of that country by absorbing the large helpings of love and concern from his family and friends.
Bernhard faced the challenge of addressing a crowd made up of gardeners and farmers who had never heard of biodynamics to those who had been working with this method for many years. As usual, no-one came away disappointed. He drew on his wealth of experience to tell how movement of man away from nature in food production had created the problems that are so evident today. He explained how the biodynamic preparations work to overcome these problems and how people can work with nature to overcome imbalances so that disease and insect problems are minimized.
Bernhard was reluctant to dampen the day with a report on Russia, but, under pressure he told us some of his experiences there. The bright side is that he has shown many farmers how organic and biodynamic methods can bring them good crops and healthy livestock. This knowledge will stay with them regardless of what happens there. On the sad side is the incredible amount of crime there and the desire of so many men to drink rather than work. Even when they have food available in the form of potatoes, they would rather use that crop to make schnapps rather than selling the crop as food. This is balanced by the women of the country who work against great odds to build a better country. These women are the hope for the future of Russia.
Undaunted, Bernhard is once more heading back to Russia. I know he takes with him our love and admiration. Viel Glueck Bernhard!
Our Field - A Manual For Community Shared Agriculture
By Jayne Thompson, Information and Education Technician MVCA
Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) has experienced an increase in public attention following recent articles in the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and Harrowsmith Country Life magazine. Lively discussions on CSA have also appeared in several internet newsgroups in recent weeks. As an urban dweller who works in rural southern Ontario, I was curious to learn more about CSA. Chris Hoskins, Soil and Water Technician with the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority, suggested Our Field, A Manual For Community Shared Agriculture as a starting point. This book provides an overview of CSA based on the experiences of the authors, Tamsyn Rowley and Chris Beeman, who have been operating a project at the Beeeman farm near Harrowsmith, Ont. since 1992.
Our Field provides a thorough introduction to the unique characteristics of CSA including the sharing of responsibility and risk between farmers and members, crop diversity, the growing of food for customers that the farmer comes to know personally and small to medium scale production with an emphasis on sustainable agricultural practices. Rowley and Beeman contend that these elements combine to create a mutually supportive relationship between farmers and consumers and that this relationship can help to increase the economic viability of a farm. In addition, the manual offers lots of practical advice on setting up and marketing CSA and outlines agricultural practices that the authors have found to be successful on their property. I was particularly struck by the opportunities for consumer education that CSA offers. Rowley and Beeman provide readers with thoughtful ideas for involving CSA members in the farm and fostering a sense of community amongst members.
Landowners considering setting up a project may find some chapters in Our Field too brief especially with regards to incorporating livestock into CSA, however a thorough appendix containing a bibliography and a CSA directory helps to compensate for this. The appendix also contains an article entitled CSAs Across Canada (originally printed in Cognition) which offers short personal stories of CSA projects across the country.
For both consumers and farmers, Our Field presents a very readable, thought provoking introduction to CSA. Copies of the manual are available through the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority (519) 335-3557, for $15.00 each.
Despite the lower than expected attendance, the seminar, "This Business of Grazing", was a day full of pasture information. Held at the University of Guelph, it included seven different speakers and covered a wide variety of topics. The panel members each had a one hour presentation and there was plenty of time for questions from those in attendance. A fencers' forum was included during the lunch break. This allowed farmers to informally share fencing ideas, experiences and even unique equipment. Some topics that came up included using sap tubing for water lines in the pasture, and the use of hydraulic ram pumps.
One of the two speakers from the U.S., Larry Tranel, seemed to sum up the mentality of grazing livestock. He indicated that Profit=(Price-Cost) X Volume of Animal Units. Grazing animals lower the farmer's costs, and therefore increase profit. Other benefits such as animal health, soil health and the quality of life of the farmer are simply icing on the cake. Larry pointed out that production per cow has no relation to the profit per cow.
A show of hands following the seminar indicated that nearly half of those in attendance were already intensively grazing in their own operations. This form of pasture management is definitely growing but it was a shame more people did not come out and take advantage of this well organized and informative day.
Copyright © 1995 Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
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