Newsletter #2011-2. March 2011


Hello everyone –

As I believe we’ve relayed by now, we are in the throes of moving to a new location, on the eastern periphery of the loosely defined settlement of Bergen.  The move itself has been protracted by the freakish spring.  Certainly we have never seen an April 3 that looked like this one for volume of snow – ever!

The reasons for the move are various. We have adequate space here to be far more farm-sufficient than on the other place.  Grow our own feed and all, which gives us a highly level of control over quality at a fraction of the cost.  The land will undoubtedly be inferior in its initial state to the rich prairie soil we are leaving, and the growing season shorter, but these are problems we know how to address in a healthy and lasting fashion.   In the meantime, there are attributes of the area that are vastly superior.  There will be more moisture.  More importantly, there is community here.  We wish of course to be a vital part of both our local and extended communities.   For this to work, there must actually be a community to be part of.  Unfortunately, prairie Alberta has become not just an agricultural, but also a social wasteland at this point in its history of attrition.  (And its history has been overwhelmingly one of attrition, which will be complete as energy reserves tighten.  Without all the cheap oil of the past century, I am sure our plains would be more a wilderness akin to Mongolia.)  I suppose agricultural wastelands are bound to also be social wastelands – the two things going hand-in-hand has certainly been the norm for most rural areas.  The plains, being an area only marginally suited to human settlement, are simply at the worst end of the spectrum.  They are now dominated by corporate farmers and Hutterites, two immensely destructive groups due to their preferred modus operandi whom, no matter how large they are, dream of being yet larger. 

Here in this particular section of the foothills of Alberta, things have remained on a more human scale.  In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that the feeling here, a mere hour and some due west of the former location and equidistant from Calgary, is one of living in an entirely different country peopled by an entirely different, and on the whole much healthier, race of beings.  We have met a number of neighbors (there are many more of them here,) and the level of initial interest and acceptance for what we do has been universal.  So far so good!

Don and Jon arrive in Bergen.


Whatever the challenges the new location brings, we have the overwhelming sense that we can make a better go of it here, and ultimately provide a broader range of the healthiest food the area can naturally produce.

As for the season at hand, things (as none of us can avoid noticing!) seem to be off to a slow start following one of the nastiest winters in memory.  Last year we were in the fields with the horses preparing ground by now, this year the ground yet lies under a thick blanket of snow, which at this point is bound to go fast and create some issues not just for us, but for pretty much everyone, we’d hazard to guess.  Whether or not the commencement of the CSA season will be delayed remains to be seen, however.  Last year we all thought we were way ahead of the game, yet ended up at least a month behind.  So hopefully this year the reverse will be true!

We’d like to thank everyone up front for joining this year, whether veteran or new members.  In keeping with the spirit of the CSA model, we like to think we are offering more than just a healthier way to augment your diet in season.  We hope our efforts (and by “our” efforts we mean the joint partnership between us here on the farm and you who are supporting us,) represent the fledgling days of a more hopeful way of life for ourselves and future generations.  By growing poison-free food appropriate to place, being involved in local community, and keeping centuries-proven and truly sustainable traditions such as draft-horse powered farming alive, we hope that even if we get warshed out by a tsunami this year, you will still go away feeling that your money has been well placed, and that the returns on your investment will go beyond our particular farm and the given season at hand.  This is our hope and it is what we are striving to provide through our efforts.  It is, of course, a challenging work in progress for all of us, regardless of whether we work the land directly or from downtown Calgary.  


Well, it’s all aboard and full-steam ahead from here!


-Jon and Andrea

Humans spent thousands of years living in small groups, hunting and gathering. The group was small enough so that each person knew every other person. Democracy could work because both the “voters” and the “politicians” were visible. It has only been in a tiny fraction of the life span of humanity that political units have been created that are far too large for people to know one another except as abstractions. Small groups have their problems, but in terms of providing happiness for the average person, the band or village is more efficient than the empire.

-Peter Goodchild

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