This Saturday, the Farm for a Year crew will be participating in GETI FEST! ‘GETI’ stands for the Golden Ears Transition Initiative, a Maple Ridge community-led response to the pressures of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and increasingly, economic contraction (decline). Transition Initiatives (or Transition Towns) are popping up all around the world in response to people’s desires to pursue happier and healthier communities. Growing local food using permaculture principles (something we’re trying to do on our farm) is a major focus of Transition Initiatives.
GETI FEST will be a celebration of community. From noon to 9:00pm, there will be information booths set up (manned by local action groups), an artisan fair, a People in Motion parade, a community bbq and a dance. Farm for a Year is a GETI action group and we’ll have a booth set up in Memorial Peace Park from noon – 4:00pm. We’ll have fresh veggies from our garden on display, as well as photos and information about our farming project. Please come by and say hi!
To find out more about the event, visit the GETI FEST event page on Facebook.
Here on the farm we have a back field that has pretty much been left to its own devices. Aside from some digging work that Chris put in to help drain the area, the field really isn’t being used for anything yet (other than the access point to our farm for local coyotes). Of course, given that it makes up a decent portion of our 2.5 acres, we’d like to make better use of it so we assigned some less-than-fun jobs to some eager friends at our work party.
Chris and some of his classmates from his gardening course took up the prickly challenge of cutting down overgrown blackberry brambles. They worked their way through one whole length of the field. We can see our fence now! Thank for taking on the scratches for us guys – it looks great!
Later in the day, Ryan and Travis began work on a system of swales in the field. Because our land is SO wet, we have to practice permaculture methods that make the most of our water runoff while doing what we can to dry out areas for planting. A swale is a low tract of land that catches water, holds water and slowly disseminates it into raised mounds of earth between it and the next swale. It can be used for both dry lands (storing water) and wetlands like ours (organizing and directing water rather than letting it settle everywhere). Our hope is that by building swales across our back field, we’ll be able to create a successful growing area (as opposed to it existing as the marshy land it is now).
Read about the basics of swales on wikipedia or check out this more detailed blog post on a swale-building project in Australia. I’m posting one of their photos below because it provides a great visual of what swales should look like. We plan on planting things on the raised mounds between the swales – plants that will hopefully flourish in a way that they never would if we planted them directly into the un-swaled land.
We had our first farm work party of the year this past weekend! Despite the on-and-off-again rain, a solid crew of old and new friends came out to help us get some important work done. A lot of tasks were accomplished and a lot of photographs were taken, so instead of plugging everything into one blog post, I’ll break the activites down into smaller, bite-sized chunks.
I’ll highlight the work we did on and around the deep beds first. This was the first ‘job’ of the day and involved turning over the earth in our last unprepared deep bed, adding composted manure to the bed, digging a path along the ditch side of the beds, laying bark mulch along the pathways between and around the beds, and planting wildflower seeds along the ridge of earth between the north pathway and the ditch.
TIP: when laying bark mulch down for paths, make sure you lay down layers of newspaper first, then add the bark mulch. This will help keep weeds from growing up through the bark mulch. We learned this the hard way and had to redo some of the paths that we had started a few days before the work party. Special thanks to Chris’ Gaia College instructor for the helpful tip!
Thanks to everyone who pitched in on this job. Helpers included old high school friends and their children, neighbours, community members we’ve connected with through the CEED Centre, fellow students of Chris’ from his Master Organic Gardening course, our local Green Party candidate and family members. The deep bed area is looking so much better now – we can’t wait to get our seedlings planted and watch that part of the garden develop into an abundant food provider!