"They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds.”by Emilee Skrabek
“They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds.”
~ Dinos Christianopoulos
Seeds. They are amazing things. Contained in each seed is all the genetic information and hope for new beginnings. To activate them: put them in a dark place, add some moisture, a bit of heat and pressure from soil contact. Give them a bit of time, each one is different, and new hope will begin. Seeds: pretty amazing.
Every farm begins like a seed: full of hope and promise, that if given the right conditions and care, great things will happen. Our farm is no different.
For years we have been waiting for the right conditions to really start growing, and in the darkest hours of this whole COVID-situation, it appears the time has come.
March 13, 2020: Notice is given to me(Emilee) and my fellow teachers that as of 11pm the school will be locked and no one, absolutely no one, is allowed to re-enter unless under special circumstances. We were given extended time to clean out our classrooms and take personal belongings with us, but once we left it was unclear when we could come back. It was the beginning of a new reality: working from home remotely, caring for our two kiddlets full time, juggling the farm, and all while the nagging worry of the global situation loomed overhead. In the heart of all of this, was the realization that our only point of sale, the Lindsay Farmers' Market, would probably not be open this season...
A couple days later, as the 'panic buying' began to spread past toilet paper (I STILL don't get that) and into food, a friend let me know that all of the grocery stores in town were out of potatoes, and that I should advertise that we had lots. I was hesitant at first: the last thing I wanted was to be perceived as taking advantage of a panic situation. Obviously that wasn't the case, but because our potatoes are priced significantly higher than the 'loss-litres' you find in the grocery stores, I worried it might be seen just that way. But after consulting with David, we went for it.
I made a little post on a Facebook-Mum Group in town, stating I would do a day delivery to Lindsay: contactless, porch drop off. The response was overwhelming, and the beginning of something great.
Since then we have done 4 delivery days, bringing our potatoes to over 100 new customers, not to mention the explosion of porch pick ups. We were also able to donate about 1200 lbs of potatoes to our local food bank: it felt good to do good!
What has this all meant for our farm?
Farming is not easy by any means. It is physically, mentally and financially taxing. Since about the mid-80s Canadian farms, particularly the middle-sized mixed farm that ours is, have struggled to make ends meet as equipment, land, seed and fuel prices increased, while crop-prices fluctuate more than a menopausal woman's temperature in mid-December. Farms have become ultimately reliant on off-farm income to help pay the bills and keep them afloat.
David and I work off farm full-time: I am a full-time teacher and he is a Grain Originator(purchases grain from farmers to go for a variety of uses, including export). Both of our incomes combined should be able to be enough, but there are times when they're not, and we question just what are we really doing.
We start our days early, put in 8-10 hrs at our 'jobs', then come home to the farm where there is usually another 3-4 hrs of work to be done. Oh, and let's add in our two adorably hilarious kids on top, and somehow there's 25 hrs of work in a 24 hr day. I love to teach, and David loves his work, but at the heart of all of it is a passion and desire to be able to farm full-time... or at least more than we currently are. When the fatigue sets in, when the bills are piling up, we certainly feel like that seed that's been buried a bit too deep.
As the porch-delivery service took off, and porch-pick ups have become a daily thing we are starting to see our little farm, with its hopes and dreams, in a new light.
Suddenly, what is usually our lowest time for sales has become our most successful. Our potato room is nearly empty: yes, we had a crap-crop last year, but when we think about what we harvested to what we now have left, we can't help but feel a bit giddy. I took a risk and opened up 10 CSA Shares for our farm produce/products. Each week, our CSA Members will get a 'drop' of goodies from the farm, and the best part? These shares generate much needed revenue that I can now use to buy tools and more seed that I otherwise couldn't justify. We've hired a marketing firm to help us 'BRAND' the farm: give us something to be proud to put on our products so that people know this was made by US.
We have hope. We have vision. We have a future.
So like a seed, our little farm is ready to grow. We are ready to face the future of these changing times. To pivot our marketing methods if need be, to get good food to our community, family and friends. It's is time to get our hands dirty, to take some risks and to see the future in a new light.
So like the quote says: We have been buried, but now, we are ready to grow.
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