A farm is a living, breathing patch of land, a space where human endeavour meets nature head on. Some farm practices try to subdue and dominate nature making it a servant to financial aims. Sustainable farming is more the dance of two unlikely partners trying to get in step with each other! Here at Willo’Wind it seems at times to be an unending process of learning and adjusting and learning and adjusting – trying and failing and succeeding and learning again. Be it a crop rotation, livestock needs, pasture management, patterns of weather – or worse no pattern to weather! Farming is humbling.
We relish our successes and learn from the losses. Thus begins another season here at Willo’Wind. There are several significant changes and challenges ahead of us. We hope to meet them with creative ingenuity! Most significantly is the rising minimum wage for our workers. The addition of fulltime staff was a great success. It made a huge difference, and made our labor model for producing your food much more sustainable last season. We are planning for their return this season and the significant cost of the minimum wage increase will be reflected in a small rise to the cost of our CSA’s. We realize that this may be a sizable increase for families and persons already stretched financially. That is why we are introducing our Volunteer Discount. You will see this line on your application. It works like this: when you sign up for this discount you are committing to two, four hour volunteer shifts for a total of 8 hours. This will give you a $50 deduction off your CSA this season, and is a great way to experience the daily workings of the farm. Days and times for this will be posted at the beginning of the season so that you can plan well ahead and you will have a choice of possible times to come.
Working in partnership with local farms is a priority for us. It puts wind in all our sails when the local farming community is thriving. To this end we are working with two neighboring farms to bring some local food diversity to add on to your CSA.
Pefferlaw Creek Farms is a family run maple bush that recently got started across the valley on the next concession over from our farm. Their age old maple trees have always provided us with a beautiful view, especially in the fall. Now we are happy to be offering the syrup produced by these great trees to all of you.
The apiarist who was keeping bees on our property retired due to health reasons last summer. We are happy to be starting a new partnership with Autumn’s Bounty, a small family apiarist in the local area. Their delicious honey is making a name for itself especially after it took home some blue ribbons at the royal winter fair. Autumns Bounty will be placing hives around our property in the coming season. Now when you are enjoying all our fruiting vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, squash and zucchini in your CSA you can also enjoy the honey produced by the bee’s working hard to pollinate your vegetables as well. What an amazing full circle food system!
Since Willo’Wind’s inception we have always had livestock in one shape or another gracing our fields. A small pony in the fields named Dusty made way for two beautiful Belgian Draft horses named Maggie & Millie. Goats in the barn made way for our dairy cow Lilly. Sheep have moved on and cattle have come to be part of our farm. Laying hens have always been close to our hearts and though we took a break this winter from egg production you will see they are back on the CSA for 2018! Livestock take a significant amount of time and energy in the model of mixed farming that we work to embrace. Niall has worked very hard on the farm to make livestock a key piece of the plan here. Our customer demand for meat products has grown both at our markets and direct sales. Niall is now moving on from Willo’Wind to set up his own Farm Services business. Without him here we will need to scale back and reorganize our livestock plans for the farm. As this falls into place and begins to take shape for the coming season we will be sure to keep you posted. We will miss Niall as he moves on to this next chapter of his life. He takes with him his love and dedication to farming.
Another significant change this year is that Evergreen Brickworks will simply be a drop off location for our CSA. We will no longer have a market stall there on Tuesdays. This will open up the time and resources for a delivery option to the East side of Toronto. We are grateful for our space at Evergreen over the years but with the growing demand for delivery in that area this seems to be the best way to move.
Be sure to get in touch with any questions you may have about the CSA and/or the application process. Get your application in before March 25th and receive the early bonus sign up of a $20 voucher to be used anytime in 2018.
The dance continues! We bring a great deal of expertise to the dance floor now compared to early days here on the farm. As our customers you have encouraged us to keep up with the latest steps and moves and supported all our efforts. Thank you everyone. We look forward to another season of working with the land and sharing the fruit of that with you.
Your Willo’Wind Farmers – Adrian & Elizabeth