FARMS AND FARMERS

Earth Haven Farm is located in Eastern Ontario. Their website address is 

http://www.earthhaven.ca/

Welcome To Earth Haven Farm

ehf-mural-small

A 200 acre family-owned and operated subsistence farm dedicated to a sustainable lifestyle and biodynamic agricultural practices, we’re located in the hamlet of Thomasburg just north of Belleville and southeast of Tweed in Ontario.

We farm biodynamically, a tradition of organic agriculture that has ancient roots and was rediscovered and first taught by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. We have been Certified Demeter Organic since 2008, with membership in the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association.

Along with our gardens of delicious fruits, vegetables and herbs, we pride ourselves in raising 100% grass fed beef. In addition to their flavorful high-protein and low cholesterol meat, our hardy and sweet-tempered Scottish Highland Cattle which have proven allies in helping us to clear a lot of underbrush from overgrown hedgerows and wooded pasture areas. They are truly the ideal breed for our remote farm location, topographical conditions and agricultural practices.

In our ever-evolving journey in self sufficiency, our purpose is to leave something of value behind for future generations. It is our hope and dream that not only our children and grandchildren will continue on where we leave off, but also that we will inspire others to enter into a deeper and healthier relationship with their own land base.

Contact us to inquire about product availability, education, or helping out on the farm. http://www.earthhaven.ca/

(The mural in the picture above was painted by Maureen Walton who is a renowned, professional mural painter (www.maureenwalton.com).  Maureen was able to capture all the elements of Earth Haven Farm in  this beautiful rendering of “Little Piece of Heaven on Earth“.  The photo does not do the mural justice.)

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The following is from the website of Bear River Farms, a Demeter Canada certified operation in Nova Scotia:

http://bearriverfarms.ca/

Bear River Farms is a certified Biodynamic Farm located between Deep Brook and Bear River – that is between Annapolis Royal and Digby, in Nova Scotia, Canada. The farm is operated by F.O.R. Ltd., a joint venture of individuals who developed a forward-thinking farming concept that is simple, efficient and sustainable.

With our operation, we want to set an example of how to start, renew, and operate small farm enterprises and how to save and protect the soil, the seeds, the breeds and a safe source of comprehensive nourishing food, for now and for following generations.

At the moment we farm 65 acres of land where we grow Rye, Spelt, Oats and Clover Hay. We raise a small suckling herd of cattle, some lambs, a few chickens and pigs.

The Customers
Our typical customers are people who understand that health is directly connected to the food they eat, so they obtain our products because they are conscientious about their wellbeing. Other people just like the idea of supporting local farms and organically grown food. To them “organic” is not just a hype word. They really live it – with every bite they eat. And some of our customers are “foodies” who simply appreciate the high-end quality and the different and natural taste of our products.

bear river

The Intention
We deeply believe that farming should be seen as an act of Art; and the responsibility of the farmers is to lift the culture in agriculture to a higher stage.

As in a symphonic orchestra where every instrument plays its own important score, our soil and every plant and animal on our farm make up an irreplaceable part of the whole and are interrelated with each other. All together they add up to a closed entity like a symphonic concert in which we as farmers, just like the conductor, have only to take care, that everything stays in tune.

Therefore, our farm is completely diversified, self-sufficient and as independent as possible. Everything on our farm grows at its own pace. Nothing is forced to grow faster or to produce more. This way we produce less quantity for the benefit of a superior quality.

Our biodynamic measures help to enliven the soil so that we can grow robust and sensitive plants and livestock that glow with health and that is able to produce the highest quality of manure which then goes back onto the fields. This dynamic process increases our soil fertility year after year and lifts the inner qualities of the food we grow to a level where it is not only able to feed our physical body but also our soul and spirit.

In our opinion, food is a very personal thing, because eventually we insert it into our mouth and body! Therefore, everyone should know exactly where his or her food is coming from, how it was grown, raised and processed and who’s behind all that. What mindset does the person have who is growing your food; what drives him or her?

That’s why we decided to give our customers a look inside our operation anytime it is requested. Our experience shows that people who have seen our farm can value our daily work and products much better.

We further believe that our day-to-day work should be done in style and be thereby very enjoyable. In order accomplish this in an efficient way we keep our operation small, exceptionally organised, tidy, clean and neat.

Our movable “Chicken Chalet”, the “Bovine Palace” and the movable “Sheep pen”, are just a few examples of how we try to design our farm to be humane for the animals and convenient for those who do the day to day work. All in all we try to work smarter, not harder!

This is all reflected in every single detail of our farm. In this way we want to renew the idea of small farm enterprises – not only for today but for future generations.

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A recent interview with Demeter-certified farmer Chris Boettcher:

Agriculture at the crossroads: Relationships emphasized, Posted 25th, 2016 byJeffrey Carter http://www.producer.com/2016/02/agriculture-at-the-crossroads/

GUELPH, Ont. — The art of agriculture or, for some, its spiritual essence, should be valued as much as the science, says a farmer from Ontario.

“We have to realize everything is interconnected and we cannot live in isolation,” Chris Boettcher told the Guelph Organic Conference Jan. 29. “It may be that we’re entering the second age of enlightenment.”

Boettcher anboettcher sheepd his wife, Gabi, have lived what he describes as two different farming lifestyles.

They farmed conventionally in the 1980s, using the recommended crop inputs to grow corn, soybeans, wheat and canola. The Boettchers were successful, but chose another path because of what they feel was an environmental issue for one of their five children.

“I realized coincidences are seldom just coincidences.… We jumped into biodyanmics with both feet,” he said. “And I asked myself, ‘why should I use chemicals labelled with skulls and crossed bones on it to produce food?’ ”

Biodynamics is a style of farming that emphasizes the relationships among all aspects of a farm, including the people. It looks at the whole rather than the parts, and an effort is made to build a farm’s resiliency from the inside out.

Boettcher said the concept goes back to Europe’s farming roots. Observation and intuition were guiding lights for communities whose members worked together to feed themselves. The value of manure and green crops were widely recognized. In fact, in some jurisdictions, farmers were required to grow a green crop every third year.

Boettcher sees a renewed interest in this type of sustainable, self-reliant approach in Canada, whether it’s called organic, biodynamic or conventional. However, Boettcher said resistance to the change is fierce.

“Conventional farming right now is very much in defence mode. Change is inevitable, but it often takes a crisis to make that change happen. Maybe we should be thankful to the Monsantos of this world for showing us how not to do it,” he said. “We’ve degraded the environment, created dead zones in the Great Lakes and the Louisiana Basin in the Gulf of Mexico.… In a way, we’re wasting away our inheritance. We’re losing capital that should be for our children.”

Like organic farming, biodynamics looks to the powers of sun and soil biology as key elements for success. Boettcher said the sun’s energy is a free resource so why rely so extensively on digging up its ancient forms? “There are more calories wasted with commercial nitrogen fertilizer than the diesel and all the other energy requirements for the rest of the farm,” he said.

Diverse rotations are embraced, and there’s an effort to keep the soil covered for as much of the year as possible through a combination of crops and cover crops. Livestock are also integral to completing the nutrient cycle on the Boettcher farm. There are 200 milking goats owned by two sons and 800 ewes and lambs in the summer. Temporary fencing helps keep fields grazed and fertilized as well as cropped. Manure produced in winter is composted before being applied.

The Boettchers also use plant- and animal-derived biodynamic preparations to stimulate plant and soil biological functions. Guidelines govern how they’re prepared and applied, but the amounts are miniscule.

Timing is also important. It is determined by the solar cycles, but the ground being “fit” can at times take precedence. This gives the system, which was developed by German scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner a mysterious air, but Boettcher is a believer.

“Biodynamics didn’t make sense to me in the beginning, but it was more attractive than organics,” he said. “Steiner said, ‘don’t take me as a guru. Don’t believe me. Think with me and then you can come to the same conclusions that I came to.’ ”

Gabi said the scientific community has scrutinized Steiner’s methodologies. In 2000, a study published in Biological Agriculture and Horticulture by U.S researchers found that preparations sped the compost process and resulted in significantly higher nitrate content. According to a 2012 study in Environmental Science and Pollution Research that examined a biodynamic cow horn preparation: “Our results provide, for the first time, a scientific characterization of an essential product in biodynamic agriculture … potentially conducive to plant growth stimulation.”

The Boettchers farm more than 600 acres with both biodynamic and organic certification. Boettcher said he’s been pleased with his income since making the switch.

However, it’s about more than the money. Neighbours have commented on the farm’s intrinsic beauty. Over the past two years, it has become a preferred site for a honey producer.

“I want to put soul back into the soil. This is about making a life and making a living…. There’s more out there then what we can weigh and count. We need to put our intention into the land,” he said. “All five of our children are looking to farm.”

The family emphasizes quality over quantity, but Boettcher said most of their yields are “on par” with county averages.

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A recent letter that Demeter Canada Chair Uli Hack wrote, that was  published in the January 19, 2016 issue of The Ontario Farmer:

We Have a Wake-Up Process Happening with Consumers

Dear editor:

In response to Terry Daynard’s article about “the lesser known challenge of food over-abundance,” I want to share what I consider a more holistic point of view.

Conventional agriculture has made great strides towards higher production, and this has to be valued with regard to the projected population increase. David Hula’s record com yield of 532bu/acre is a truly respectable achievement. It is really good to know this is possible if we r really need it. But if we all had yields in a similar range, our crop prices would fall to the point where we would be asking the government for handouts. An older Ontario Farmer article stated, that if soybean production would fall by 20% the soybean prices would rise by 50%. So while we as farmers always strive for higher production, as a whole global agriculture community our needs might be better met with a lower production.

This would serve our environment well at the same time, as fertilizer loads in rivers and lakes could be reduced, and pesticide use could be reduced also. It seems that we do not really need that high production now, but rather in the anticipated future.

Producing fertilizers requires a lot of energy. We know that oil and coal are limited resources that we are using to create the current overabundance of food and their availability might be missed when we really need them to feed the anticipated population. In that respect I feel that organic agriculture does great pioneer work in learning how to grow without the availability of fertilizer and chemicals.

The chemical agriculture has also substantially reduced the humus levels in the last century, which is a major factor for good fertile soil that will be needed in the future. I am not sure if they are able to reverse that trend now with no-till. Chemical agriculture is a great reliable production system if we do not consider the human health and environmental impacts and are satisfied that it is government-approved. Terry Daynard must have good genes and a healthy upbringing. My mom died of cancer at 49 and my Dad died at 69. He was very sick from chemical exposure at age 30, which made him see the shortcomings of chemical agriculture, and he converted to organic at age 40, after having seen a successful organic farm. Many organic farmers had witnessed health problems related to the chemicals. That opened their eyes, heart and mind to a more holistic approach.

We also have that wake-up process happening with many consumers. Our cancer rate is now that every second person can expect to have cancer in his lifetime. And there is a whole stack of other diseases that were also hardly known one hundred years ago. I have heard that the average cancer patient costs our health care system $60,000. That could go a long way for some healthier food.

In the Poettinger cat study, they found that when cats were fed the wrong food (cooked versus raw) they developed our typical civilization diseases like cancer, diabetes, infertility, and unsocial behaviour. These diseases became inheritable, and after seven generations of the wrong food, the cats were not able to propagate. They also studied to get the sick cats back to normal, and it also took seven generations to get rid of these “inheritable diseases.”  Could the diseases we experience be connected with the food we eat?

Our food has changed substantially over the last decades. The swathing of wheat has ceased in the prairies, and Round-up took its place. The soybeans get Round-up before wheat is planted. Corn and soy and sugar beets are now to a large extent genetically modified, with no labelling, despite the fact that I clearly remember a poll from around 1990, where 85% of consumers did not want GMO.

Hormone implants in most beef, antibiotic feed for the chickens and almost BST for the milk. Did we ever want to inform our consumers of our new practices or did we prefer to keep them in the dark and have them trust us and the government approval? I know that organic consumers are informed consumers that know what they want. Would it not make sense to work on reducing our 40% food waste and value our food more, since all is the sacrifice of the life of an animal or plant in order to sustain us?

Ulrich Hack, Kincardine