Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter Planning

Hey Farm Folk,

Former Cutting Veg Intern launches her own farm "Close to Home Organic CSA": When Rowena Cruz applied for an Internship position with The Cutting Veg, I knew she would be a star. Her passion for farming was palpable. Now, a year later, Rowena has graduated from The Cutting Veg Internship, and is lauching her own Farm. Rowena provides a few words about her farm here. Congratulations Rowena on this exciting step!

Close to Home Organic CSA, a newly established community supported agriculture project is located at Heart’s Content Farmstead in Jerseyville, approximately 30 minutes drive from downtown Hamilton. CTH Organic CSA will grow vegetables, culinary herbs and flowers intended for communities in the Hamilton, Stoney Creek and surrounding areas. In 2011, our goal is to provide food to a 10 full share CSA program and a couple of farmers markets. Rowena Cruz, the owner, works alongside FarmStart, a non-profit organization that supports new farmers and new immigrants to Canada who are ready to start an economically viable, locally based and ecological farming enterprise. Aside from participating in a number of agricultural workshops, Rowena’s internship at The Cutting Veg gave her the confidence and necessary skills to start and manage her own farm enterprise. “Daniel’s support and generosity will always be an inspiration, he has given me a gift - the courage to realize my dream of becoming an organic farmer.”

So, What does an Organic Farmer in Southern Ontario do during the Winter?: An Organic Farmer's job description can be divided into three parts: one third of her/his work is the physical farm work, one third planning, and one third marketing. Thus, winter time is a key time to do your planning and marketing work. Personally, I tend to spend November and December reflecting on the farming season that has just passed, and begin to vision for the season ahead. During the first half of January, it is time to finailise the vision. And once mid-January hits, it's time to start putting the vision into action. In coming up with the vision for the farming season that lies ahead, I look at four key areas:
  1. What are the goals? What are we trying to accomplish? Does the mission statement still fit?
  2. What crops will we grow, and how much of each?
  3. Who will the team be? What staff roles are needed and who will fill them? Does the Internship program need reworking? Does the volunteer program need revisiting?
  4. What is the distribution plan? Are we happy with how our current CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) are working, and do we want to add any additional locations? What is the CSA membership goal for the season? What Farmer's Markets will we do this year? How will we distribute the bulk garlic?
Once these questions have been answered, it is time to start putting the pieces in place. We're hiring staff and interns. Making crop maps, and planting schedules. Taking a seed inventory and ordering seeds and seedlings. Working with community partners to either launch new CSA's, or better existing ones. In managing The Cutting Veg, January - April is the most important time of the year for me. This is when the vision is set, and put into action. A strong winter of planning & marketing can lead to a very successful year. And once April hits, one needs to be ready for that first window of planting time. We could be planting in just over 1 month!

TCV in the Media: Check out The Cutting Veg in MacLeans: http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/12/02/using-our-heads/

And an 11 years old teaches us what is wrong with our food system, here: http://bit.ly/cVj8oi

Internship Program: Do you want to learn to grow your own food, or take a step towards becoming a farmer? The Cutting Veg organic farm offers season-long, part-time farming internships, in which you can immerse yourself in the world of organic agriculture. Located in Brampton, ½ an hour from Toronto, this internship is ideal for people who are rooted in the city, yet ready to take a significant step into the world of veggie farming. Through farm work and discussion, Interns will be exposed to various aspects of organic agriculture, including plant propagation, plant care, soil preparation and health, pest-management, green-manuring, and planning & marketing. As a potential Intern, you must be willing to commit two full days per week (on-farm from 6:30am-3:30pm) from the beginning of May to the end of October, and be excited to receive agricultural skills, knowledge, and organic veggies, in exchange for your labour. As this farm is not residential, no accommodation is available on-site.

To Apply:

  • Please contact Daniel Hoffmann at daniel@thecuttingveg.com to receive an email version of the Internship Curriculum. Please indicate in your email which orientation session you will be attending.
  • Interested applicants need to attend one of two Orientation sessions --- either Tuesday, March 8th, 7-9pm, or Thursday, March 10th, 7-9pm. Orientation sessions will take place at Cooper's Furniture (111 Bathurst Street at Adelaide above Waddington's)
  • At the end of the Orientation session, those still interested will sign up for an interview
That's all the news from the farm for now. Stay tuned for how the plan progresses. Until then, Keep Livin' on the Veg!

Daniel