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New Farmers' Gathering

by jayme melrose

New farmer.
"When you crest the hill, the camping is to the right, where all the tents and the cow are.  You can see the big workshop yurts behind - that is where the opening circle will be."
Justine and Connell working with Dixie to prep that field for the collective corn and beans planting.
The wood-fired Spearville oven baking the first loaves of bread.
 The workshop on how to kill and process a chicken homestead-style.
There really should be more images of the amazing food we had to eat all weekend.  The spaciousness of the site and schedule were equally as nourishing.
Ah.  The magic of place.
Many hands make light work;  the whole field of corn and beans getting planted in an hour.
Many hands; the cabbage and potatoes we planted.
A big morning tai chi.
Peter Daniels.
New Farmers' Gathering
On Saturday night, David's door was covered in fuzzy pink and yellow moths.  Even their legs were fuzzy, pink and yellow.  Ain't life special sometimes?

To view photo essay, click on any of the above photos.

On June 13 & 14th, the Lorax Woodlands hosted the 2nd New Farmer's Gathering: an alternative conference for farmers, those who want to be farmers, and the friends and supporters of agricultural renewal. The event, which took place on a farm in the Annapolis Valley, included two days of workshops, discussions and making connections.

The first gathering happened last May on young farmer Charles Summers' land, up the North Mountain. Despite the rain last year, it was an amazing party, and local, small-scale farming in our community got a major injection of the-I-can-do-its. Perhaps the organizing crew got the biggest injection of life-changing juice, because they sure put a lot into this year's gathering. The event was well-organized, and the food was amazing. There were about 150 people who came this year, including a lot of kids and babes.

The highlight for me, aside from learning how to gut a chicken, was listening to Peter Daniels. Peter Daniels grew up on the north mountain. His family had about 40 acres, 10 of it cleared. They had about 12- 16 cows, 5-18 horses, 40 - 50 sheep, 15 - 18 pigs, and a flock of 15 - 20 chickens. They grew cucumbers for the cucumber truck which took them to the Berwick pickle factory. They grew potatoes, turnips, and a big garden. Peter's father was into breeding racing horses for the local races, which sounds like it was another small local economy.

Peter is the old guy who stopped by on Charles Summers when Charles arrived to the North Mountain in October with wife, child, sheep and a couple tarps. Peter asked if Charles had any firewood; Charles said no. Peter asked if Charles had any hay; Charles said no. And Peter became a close friend and mentor from there on in.

Peter is hillarious. He opened with saying that he doesn't know why people are going hungry in Nova Scotia; "You could grow enough food for yourself in a ditch! And it wouldn't have to be a very long ditch! Nova Scotia could triple its population and still feed itself! But some people get greedy and would rather fight than eat."

Emphatically, Peter agreed that we need more and smaller farms. "Small farms are the backbone of this gawdam country! I'll never see enough of them, that's for certain."

Someone asked Peter whether he thought the Federation of Agriculture and the Farm Loan Board had been helpful over the years. Work within your means, Peter advised. Share resources, start small, stay small, don't go getting loans from anyone. "Well, first they give you a grant - that's how they rope you in - then you get three loans, and the next thing you know yer tits up going down the road."

Further, he doesn't advise working a job you don't like. "Just a gawdam waste of time if you ask me. I wouldn't do it one more day".

So all of us young farmers need a Peter Daniels. What are we supposed to do, someone asked, just go find our old neighbours and ask? Yup, yup, said Peter. "For some reason, the talkin's pretty cheap, actually." "Just go on and ask 'em - whether or not they answer you."

In closing, Peter said, "Farming is a super life and I'm sure tickled to see all you young people out here interested."

For more information about the New Farmers Gathering talk to Charles Summers or David Greenberg.

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575 words


Nice to see some coverage of

Nice to see some coverage of the New Farmer's Gathering, good pictures.

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