"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

Henry D. Thoreau




Symphony of the Soil

Canada’s National Organic Week is the largest annual celebration of organic food, farming and products across the country. We are teaming up with the Canadian Organic Growers to celebrate this week by showing the Symphony of the Soil. This is a 104-minute documentary feature film that explores the complexity and mystery of soil. Using a captivating mix of art and science, the film shows that soil is a complex living organism, the foundation of life on earth. Yet most people are soil-blind and “treat soil like dirt.” Through the knowledge and wisdom revealed in this film, we can come to respect, even revere, this miraculous substance, and appreciate that treating the soil right can help solve some of our most pressing environmental problems.

The viewing will be followed by a panel discussion with Janine Gibson, Gary Martens, Herman Grauer and Gerry Dube.

Janine Gibson is a long time organic food activist. She is an organic crop inspector, and is the current president of the Canadian Organic Growers. She has been the Provencher candidate for the Green Party in past elections.

Herman Grauer is the owner of Nature's Farm and Nature's Pasta in Steinbach. Nature's Farm is a free run, organic egg production facility. Nature's Pasta manufactures gourmet organic pasta. 

Gary Martens is Professor Plant Science at the U of M and lives near Kleefeld. He is passionate about farming in harmony with nature.

Gerry Dube is the manager of Canada's first agricultural composting co-op, Compo-Stages Manitoba Services Co-op, and lives in La Broquerie.

TIME: September 26, 2013 7:00 pm Mennonite Heritage Museum, Highway 12N.
TICKETS: $10 advance purchase at Good 'n Natural, Nature's Pasta or from Eric. $12.00 at the door
SNACKS: Local and organic popcorn and cider available for purchase.


Garden Tour

Thursday, August 8 we had a delightful tour of five SETI gardens. The weather was excellent, and the gardens were filled with an abundance of produce.

 Here are the highlights:


 Gabriel Gagné's garden:

 Gabriel discovered the need for a healthy soil more than 25 years ago through organic agriculture courses he took in Quebec.  His garden is 7500 sq. ft.; dense, diversified, and productive. He follows a 4 year rotation and practices companion planting. This garden on the sandy Kokomo ridge, is extremely productive becasue of the amount of compost Gabriel uses, and his very judicious watering.

Two small families depend significantly on the fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereal produced in this garden supply. 

Rebecca and Sheldon Hiebert's garden 

Here is a large raised bed garden with cardboard and straw between the rows. They use straw to mulch the beds to retain moisture in the soil. They love to experiment with different vegetables and were growing quinoa, amaranth, sweet potato and two kinds of lentils along withr more traditional garden crops. Growth on their hugelkulture bed, was also impressive. In this case they had draged wome dead logs out the the bush surrounding their garden. They had covered thse logs with soil, crating a unique raised bed. Plants growing on this mound did well, benefiting from the nutrients released by the decaying logs in the rooting area.

David Dawson's garden

David has a large vegetable garden and a greenhouse.  He uses the greenhouse to extend the season by a couple of months. Although the whole garden was impressive, most impressive were David's tomatoes growing inside his greenhouse. He expects them to  continue producing into October, by which time the vines will be 12' or 14' tall.

Finally Jack and Ruth Heppner's country garden 

Jack and Ruth use raised beds with wooden sides and cardboard and straw between the boxes to keep weeds down and moisture in. In wet years it keeps the roots of garden plants out of water but in dry years they need to water plants more. It also allows them to build up the soil in the beds which they never walk on. "It is not a perfect garden – our garlic did not do well for some reason - but mostly it works for us."

We were also very interested in their a large composting project which has been going all summer with a  temperature 130-140 F. They feed it with garden waste, buyt also collect organic waste from one of the delis in Steinbach several times a week.

And then there was the composting toilet Jack has built. They have one in their home in Steinbach and use it. Jack followed plans in Joseph Jenkins' The Humanure Handbook and they now use it regularly. Waste in the bucket is covered with sawdust obtained from Southeast Forest Products in Blumenort. Covered in that way, the bucket can be left standing, and it will not smell. They periodically empty their humanure bucket onto the above mentioned compost pile.  

They have also built a pavilion using local rock and reclaimed cedar from old hydro poles and used cedar siding.


Update: Visit to God's Acres

Last night was a wonderful night to visit God's Acres. We saw many acres of vegetables grown in a chemical free environment. We tried at least 5 varieties of radishes, some that looked like apples and tasted almost as sweet! We also tasted some chemical free strawberries that were wonderfully red and delicious. The Steinnman's are passionate about growing food in a natural way, they sell their food at three farmer's markets and hope to have a store right on their farm.

Currently God's Acres have a strawberry U-pick for their chemical free strawberries. If you are looking to pick strawberries, give them a call!


 photo 85cf7423-a7a4-49a2-bbb9-e19330992330.jpg



 photo 5a54b745-8e48-4003-8f55-cb3ab9704e86.jpg



Green Drinks at the Farm


 photo ac0c5fab-aff4-4e5f-9623-4221042ffa1d.jpg


For the month of July we had a very special Green Drinks at Gary Martens' farm. The kids got airplane rides in Gary's 4 seater airplane and the adults got a tour of the fields and gardens. Gary showed us his field of hulless oats and later over coffee and rhubarb crisp (yum!) we got to try Gary's oat roller. Everyone got to go home with some freshly rolled oats to cook for breakfast. Thanks Gary for such a wonderful evening!


 photo 2b59a109-6f5e-453d-befe-f5a01523e9fb.jpg



 photo 2492c647-327a-4bd0-a5c1-a7f0a77455d2.jpg



Visit to God's Acres: CSA Farm

Join us on Friday July 19th at 7pm when we visit God's Acres Farm. God's Acres is a chemical free farm run by Hans and the Steinmann family. They choose to grow chemically free due to Hans' chemical sensitivities. At God's Acres they grow a wide range of vegetables and fruits using a variety of natural soil supplements. During our visit we will see fields of veggies, and indoor growing area, as well as the government inspected processing facilities. Come and learn how healthy food can be grown on a large scale and hear about the God's Acres CSA too!

From the water tower: 3 miles east, 5 miles south.