Featurepreneur: New Shoots, Lifelong Roots

Featurepreneur: New Shoots, Lifelong Roots
By Genevieve Allen Hearn

The Annapolis Valley benefits from multi-generational farming families who are rooted to this land in history, in family traditions, and in the crops they grow. But there is also a group of first generation farmers who have uprooted their lives from out-of-province, and sown new seeds in the Annapolis Valley. The Grapevine spoke to two farming couples who have recently moved to the breadbasket of Nova Scotia.

Sarah and Kenny Macalpine – Two Birds One Stone

The Grapevine (GV): What attracted you to farming?

Sarah and Kenny (S&K): We are passionate about the environment and its sustainability. We wanted to carve out a place for us where we could provide seasonal crops whilst doing something that we love. Living our dream of breathing new life into an old farm has been incredibly rewarding, and a lot of hard work.

GV: Why the Annapolis Valley?

S&K: The Annapolis Valley, and our North Mountain community of Hall’s Harbour, is rich in so many things: history, exceptional landscape, and wonderful people. But most of all it’s the sense of pride that folks have for this truly remarkable neck of the woods, which they show in their faithful support of local agriculture and artisans.

GV: What is the greatest part of your work? What is the greatest challenge?

S&K: The greatest part of our work is being able to share what we do: The beautiful bounty we earnestly grow with our community. It’s also spectacular to continually witness the journey a seed takes, and admire an abundant harvest!

The greatest challenge of our work is falling into the rhythm of accomplishing everything we need to do in a day. As the seasons change, our tasks vary. As new farmers we are on the arc of a learning curve. It can feel like a bit of a juggling act sometimes trying to manage varied chores that are constantly evolving.

GV: What is your farming philosophy?

S&K: We are very keen on regenerative farming practices. All of our beds are heavily amended without the use of artificial fertilizers, and we never use pesticides or herbicides. Our aim is to enhance the biodiversity of our small acreage, and to create a vigorous environment that is resilient to disease and infestation, while leaving it better than we found it.

GV: Where can folks find you?

S&K: We are at the Kentville Farmers’ Market every Wednesday and the Wolfville Farmers’ Market every Saturday. We have an ongoing weekly bouquet subscription, and are hosting a floral design workshop in Kentville on August 18 at 3pm. We also provide flowers for weddings and special events.

twobirdsonestonefarm.com

Jocelyn Durston and Chris Kasza – Seven Acres Farms & Ferments

The Grapevine (GV): What attracted you to farming?

Jocelyn Durston (JD): My two interests growing up were environmental care and humanitarian work. Food security issues are a key component in humanitarian work, so my studies took me down the path of agriculture and its impact on the environment. After spending time researching agroecology, and later working in a policy environment, I decided I wanted to get some hands-on experience in agriculture and learn through experience and closer connections with farmers.

GV: Why the Annapolis Valley?

JD: Affordability. We were living outside of Vancouver before coming to Nova Scotia, renting land from friends. When we decided that we wanted to pursue farming more seriously, we found that we couldn’t afford land in the parts of BC that we were interested in living in. Nova Scotia had always held appeal for me, so we came out here to scope things out. We really liked the Annapolis Valley and decided to give it a go. Land access is one of the biggest barriers to new farmers, so we’re grateful we could find something that suited our needs and budget in this beautiful province.

GV: What is the greatest part of your work? What is the greatest challenge?

JD: I think the thing that brings me the most satisfaction and excitement is witnessing the growth of biodiversity on our land as each year passes. We’re very intentional in our garden design and crop planning to create spaces that attract, feed, and protect a wide range of insects, birds, and animals.

The greatest challenge is probably patience. It’s easy to look around and see all the projects that we haven’t gotten to yet, instead of looking at what we have accomplished and giving ourselves permission to feel proud of it.

GV: What is your farming philosophy?

JD: Grow a diversity of food in a way that works with nature, instead of against it. Our goal is to design edible landscapes that succeed as part of larger, mostly self-sustaining ecosystems, instead of relying on highly-mechanized, labour-dependent designs that exist in near-isolation from the natural world.

GV: Where can folks find you?

JD: We’re at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market every Saturday, year-round, with seasonal cut flowers, heirloom tomatoes, garlic, and our line of specialty sauerkrauts, kimchi, and fermented drinks.

sevenacresfarm.ca