Putting the Culture back in Agriculture
Lunar Rhythm Gardens has been a lifetime in the making. I grew up on the family farm working with my dad, since I could walk. I knew as a little girl that I was going to be a farmer. My parents raised pigs from farrow to finish, and shipped cream on our home farm, at 253 Gray Rd. until I was about 9 years old. However, with the introduction of the quota system, Dad choose to get out of dairy, rather than invest in quota and major renovations in the barn. I was one mad little girl, cows where my first love especially the black and white ones, but I was too young to take over! Anyhow, we changed over to a cow calf operation, raised market hogs, and I started my own business with 25 laying hens.
I kept the chickens till I went to college, and was introduced to horse logging at sixteen. We had our bush logged by a gentlemen named Art Shannon; who practices sustainable forestry with horses, Arbor North and I loved it. I was familiar with horses, having grown up riding and owning one myself, and had no problems learning how to drive the gentle giants. I now own the first horse I ever drove, Torque, who was just starting his career at that point! I logged for 4 years , I loved it but knew it didn’t jive with farming. I was never home and travelled a lot. I wanted to farm with horses instead, people thought I was nuts! Around that time I was convinced by some friends to attend a ploughing workshop in St.Thomas, Ontario, with Ken Laing. Once I had visited Orchard Hill Farm, and saw their CSA vegetable operation I knew that was the kind of operation I was going to have. After logging, I spent six years working in dairy, part-time while going to college, then full-time as a herdsperson in Guelph for 2.5 years; during which time I attended Ken Laings three day draft horse workshop, and purchased Torque.
In the spring of 2008 I quit my job at the dairy farm in Guelph, took a farm business management course, a 3 month internship at Orchard Hill Farms, travelled to Europe (I knew the vacations where few and far between when you had your own farming operation.), and purchased my second draft horse (Calvin, 4 years old and untrained.) I had a business plan in hand and I knew what I wanted, but still didn’t know were, or with whom I was going to be farming. I just headed home after my internship with everything up in the air, and a few different maybe options in the “I think stage”. Then my mom mentioned to one of our neighbours, what I was interested in doing, and they (Sandy and Maurice Harris, our current landlords.) thought it was a great idea and offered me ten acres to rent. Now I had land but nobody to work with; I didn’t want to farm alone. That’s when Mike and I met, I was looking for someone to travel to Montreal and visit farms with and he wanted to visit family. So, on the way to Montreal, Lunar Rhythm Gardens became our brain child, since he was looking for land and a business partner. We drew up a revised business plan, and started the ship a sailing.
I was taking a bunch of courses on organic farming, barefoot horse trimming, and business planning that fall, and started to make my school our farm planning and education plan, nothing like hands on! Furthermore, I was training Calvin, and we bought Peg, a horse I had helped Ken Laing train at Orchard Hill. We had a work bee on Halloween, and put up the greenhouse and hoop house, as well as planted our garlic. Lunar Rhythm Gardens was underway! Seeds where purchased, and our articles went out in February and March, and we had share members, scary, and exciting at the same time! Seven years ago a seed was sown, and in 2009 it finally came to fruit.
As we prepared for our 2010 season, Mike left us, deciding to farm closer to his parents in Meaford; he will be missed a great deal by all! And wish him the best in future farming endeavours.
As we enter our 2015 growing season, I am even more passionate about Lunar Rhythm Gardens and how far we have grown since those early days.