There is so much farming in Nova Scotia. The Annapolis Valley is prime land for farming from vineyards and orchards to huge fields growing our local produce, as well as livestock. But, all over the province there are so many farms, big and small, producing many of the delicious things we enjoy locally.
Today is Open Farm Day. Farms all over the province are open for tour where you can “meet the farmer”, see what’s taking place, do a “behind the scenes” tour, enjoy some samples (David’s favourite), and purchase products. A day to get out and ask questions!
So many to choose from. How do you decide which one (or two) to see? Well this time the Valley ones are off the list. We’ll do a valley run later in the week. But what local place would be interesting?
We made our choice, now it’s off to the FARM!!
1st Stop: Terra Beata Cranberry Farm on Heckman’s Island just outside of Lunenburg.
This farm is owned by David & Evelyn Ernst and their family and they have been here for 17 years. It’s a a 6 field-12 acre cranberry bog that produces the Stevens variety( larger) cranberry. It is a small farm that employs 20-30 people year round and produces 150, 000 lbs of cranberries per year. They also process and package cranberries, blueberries, cherries and haskap berries from other companies.
It was interesting to see the bog, and hear how it’s all started with vines that take 2 years before they bear fruit but once established produce for up to 100 years. So it really is a family investment. We toured the bog, saw the equipment that’s used to harvest the berries and then went inside the facility to see the cleaning station where the berries are cleaned and sorted and then the “cranberry kitchen” where all the tasty jars of salsa, jams, relishes, and chutneys are done. The recipes all the family’s own. We saw the processing and bottling area where they do the juices as well as the ovens where the dried cranberries are done. All so very interesting and the great part was that our particular tour guides were the young sons, very knowledgeable on every aspect of the business.
David’s favourite part of course was the sampling as well as browsing the “Bog Store” to purchase his favourites!
2nd Stop: Watershed Farm in Baker Settlement.
This was fabulous! This Organic Farm that has a little bit of everything was established by a former film producer from Toronto, Camelia Frieberg, who 15 years ago wanted to get out of the big city and raise her family. They bought the piece of land and started with what is now the studio. It is a small “cottage like” building made using straw bale as the insulation and with a wind generator and solar panels, they lived “off grid” for a few years. Their main house is also a straw bale home and now they have electricity, as well as a back up generator but still mainly use the wind and sun for their power.
I really could have listened to Camelia all day. She knows so much about growing things and has a little bit of everything at the farm. She explained composting. Who thought composting could be interesting? lol. And did you know you could put sheep’s wool in compost? We saw her flock of mixed heritage breed sheep, free range chickens and bee hives. She grows just about every fruit and vegetable, with over 50 kinds of tomatoes, really interesting different things, edible flowers, garlic, grapes, grains, willow for fences and baskets, Jerusalem artichoke ( sort of looks like a small sunflower) for barrier and eating, watermelon, mini watermelons to pickle. She also said there is a program called WWOOF~ World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, which is a national organization that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms. She has enjoyed participants from this program volunteer at her farm. I loved the tour and we made sure to bring home some different tomatoes. They taste just like candy!
We are so pleased with our two choices, but wished there was time for more. Ok two quick stops…very familiar places… Wiles Lake Farm Market and Indian Garden Farms to pick up a couple more items.
We will definitely try to visit more farms next year. What a great way to learn about the things we eat and pick up some delicious produce fresh right from the farm!!