What I have learned so far

In my first 2 months at Tsawwassen First Nation Farm School TFN), I have learned:
• Organic farming is extremely difficult and strategic and I realized that I don’t pay enough for food
• It is important to measure production on the farm based on what can be done in one hour such as:
-weeding 40 fruit trees
-planting 71 cauliflowers , 90 onions, planting 34 potato’s, including the placing of ‘amendments’ (gaia green, glacial silt, lime, compost)
• My favorite way of seeding is using the Jang seeder, which is much easier then planting on my hands and knees
• We need specialized organic compost (it gets trucked in from Abbotsford) to help make the vegetables grow
• Raised beds works great in combination with irrigation lines complete with drippers to ensure each plant gets sufficient water
• Planting cherry trees at the orchard. I look forward to watching them grow 3 feet this year!
• Planting organic strawberries and raspberries that come from Quebec
• There are 9 (secret) ingredients in the TFN potting soil and it gets mixed by hand
• You never say the word ‘dirt’ it is always ‘soil’ and it’s made up of clay, sand and silt
• Learning how to ride a BCS tractor that was manufactured in Italy (it is way easier then digging soil by hand)
• Learning to drive the New Holland tractor and pulling the shovel plow is a lot of fun
• Beetles love eating broccoli and cauliflower (as much as we do) it’s imperative that we plant trap crops
• Spraying pesticides to control weeds and bugs is not sustainable and will eventually destroy our health
• For the first time in my life I have witnessed the delivery of more than a dozen squealing little pigs to the farm in a minivan
• It’s interesting to watch the pigs interact with each other and how quickly they grow and how important they are to a sustainable farm
• The chickens can, at times, be a little aggressive and feisty, but they lay great organic eggs that taste amazing!
• Electric fences keep chickens and pigs from running away and keep’s coyotes out
• Watching bees in the hive and observing the queen, is so interesting. It’s sad that the Varroa mites are killing some of the bees

The specialist guest instructors at the TFN farm have been very interesting, enthusiastic and patient. They have passed on abundant knowledge to us through their teaching and personal experiences.
• Corine is our super hardworking, experienced farm teacher
• Kent is our orchard expert
• Farmer Scott provides personal anecdotes
• Brian demonstrates how to work with bees
• Deborah loves bugs
• Emma is passionate about soil
• Grey teaches us about irrigation
• Dawn educates on indigenous plants

I enjoy the TFN specialized program because I experience hands on learning and acquire skills that I can take into the real world of organic farming.
One of the best experience’s on the farm is getting to know and appreciate my fellow classmates. I love being a part of the Saturday potlucks, eating cheese cake, various salads, sausage, crabs, salmon, bannock and so much more.

I’m looking forward to my next 6 months at TFN! What will I learn next?!

-Werner

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