Monthly Archives: September 2013

September, a look back at summer, and big changes for the future

Harvesting tomatoes and flowers for market.

Harvesting tomatoes and flowers for market.

It’s  officially September. I’ve felt it coming for a couple weeks now – the cooler evenings and chilly, dewy mornings, and the exodus of leaves from the old walnut tree outside our window. All signs of summer drawing to a close and autumn moving in.

I wrote a total of three blog posts in June and July this summer. Pretty sure that’s my worst blogging performance ever. It was a great summer though – too great to spend much of it in front of a computer, and that’s not a bad thing.

Now that students are back to school and we’re able to start relying on rain to water our gardens again, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the summer, report on our activities, and provide hints about what’s next for us.

This summer didn’t include many Farm for Life communal activities. Certainly less than past summers. Chris M. and Julie spent a large part of their summer adventuring on their new sailboat (lucky ducks!), and Chris K. and I found ourselves quite busy with our market garden business and planning for our future (more on that below).

The market garden business has been going really well. We increased the amount of produce and flowers we grew this year, and as a result, saw our market garden income increase. We received special orders from a local caterer, as well as other community members who had special recipes in mind that they wanted to use clean, locally-grown produce for. It was encouraging to get repeat orders and to see repeat customers at our market booth every weekend, confirming for us that we’re producing quality products that are appreciated. We opted out of our originally-planned two markets a week in favour for just focusing on one. Working our other day jobs while running our market garden business made it too tough to attain the increased produce volume (not to mention time and energy) that a second market would require. It was actually a relief when we officially decided to opt out of market number two.

And we’ve been making plans. Plans that involve BIG changes. Some of our friends and customers know this now, but there are still a lot of people who don’t: Chris K. and I will be leaving Maple Ridge and the farm at the end of October. Big news, right?!

We’ve known for the last year and a half that we’d be moving off the farm at the end of this year, but the decision to leave Maple Ridge altogether came later. Both Chris K. and I have been in Maple Ridge for three years now. We didn’t know each other when we separately left Vancouver to live on acreages in Maple Ridge, but two years ago, our paths crossed, and now we’re life partners and market garden partners. Pretty awesome. But people who know either of us know that three years is a long time to stay in one place and we’re both ready for change, so we’re making plans to move.  We haven’t settled on a particular location yet – more on that in a future blog post – but it will almost definitely include heading east. That’s my hint for now :) More details coming soon!

Since we’ve known for a few months that these would be our last few months in the Lower Mainland, Chris K. and I also kept ourselves busy this summer doing some local travelling in order to take advantage of the awesomeness of the Pacific NorthWest. We’ve been up to the Sunshine Coast a number of times for permaculture classes and to scope out farmland. We did a bike trip to Salt Spring Island, a roadtrip to Kelowna, and a number of local trips around the Lower Mainland. Almost every trip included visits to local wineries, breweries and distilleries, as well as to local farms and farmer markets. Personal market research maybe? ;) Next week we’re off to Little Rock, Arkansas, for an unexpected work/ adventure trip, and we’re also hoping to get in a roadtrip down to Portland to visit important peeps before we head east. All in all, a great few months full of adventures.

A lot of people who know we’re leaving have asked what that means for The Farm for Life Project. To be really honest and realistic, I believe it means the end of it insofar as we’ve outlined it here on this blog. The original adventure that I began blogging about three years ago started off as my year of blogging about living on a farm for a year. That original idea morphed into three years, a market garden business, lots of permaculture experiments, lots of farm animal experiences, major gardening growing curves, oodles of community-building opportunities, and some very generous handfuls of new relationships with inspiring people in the Maple Ridge community. The personal changes that each of us involved have experienced over the past three years have been too numerous to try to list. I think it’s safe to say that three years ago, none of us would have expected that this is where we’d be now! Crazy awesome.

I won’t speak too much for Chris M. and Julie, but I do know that continuing to garden and educating others about growing food and respecting the environment are still very important to them, so although it may look a little different and may not not blogged about, I know good things will still happen on the farm after we leave. I’m actually excited to see where it’s at in 5 years, once all of the perennial fruit and nut trees, and other perennial edibles that Chris M. has been focused on planting have matured. It’s a pretty magical property and Chris M. and Julie are great land stewards. Onwards and upwards!

In the meantime, Chris K. and I will still be at the Haney Farmers Market every Saturday until the end of September, and will still be kicking around Maple Ridge and the farm until the end of October. I’ll post more details about our move and our intentions for the future as we know more.

Much love and happy September!

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  ~ Lao Tzu