The Beginnings of Farm School

Blog written by Katherine

I am beyond excited to be a part of the 2017 farm school cohort and I can’t believe it’s already the beginning of June! So much has changed around the farm since the first week of classes began in mid-March and it’s nice to reflect on how much we have learned since day one.

I became aware of the farm school program by literally Googling “learn to farm” one day and was surprised to find an all-encompassing program right here in the Lower Mainland. The idea of learning to farm was then tucked away in the back of my mind for a year or so, not knowing how it would fit into my current life and career as an accountant. How did anyone become a farmer if they didn’t have a family history of farming or hadn’t completed an agricultural science degree from a university? Now I understand that quite a few new organic farmers don’t have this type of background and many have turned to farming as a second career. How cool is that?! This year the stars were aligned and I was able to take a break from being a full-time accountant in order to learn all there is about farming. I had doubts about whether I could hack it working outside in all sorts of weather conditions and temperatures (being an office-dweller for the past 10 years) but so far there have been no bad days on the farm (some more rainy and muddy than others).

My fellow cohorts come from various backgrounds and career paths but the one thing we have in common is the strong desire to grow delicious food in a way that nurtures the soil and environment. It’s a beautiful thing to work alongside like-minded people who are super supportive and enthusiastic about anything new coming our way. The teamwork and camaraderie is amazing and I look forward to every day on the farm.

Given the soggy and cold spring we’ve had this year, we’ve covered a lot “in-class” material including market crop production, orchard management and plant science, soil science, integrated pest management, and beekeeping. We’ve also been introduced to seeding, irrigation, carpentry, and livestock management. Now that it finally feels like spring we’ve been learning about harvesting, tractor operation, transplanting and direct seeding using the Jang seeder, making and amending beds with the walk-behind tractor, building two movable caterpillar tunnels… and the list goes on! At first glance it’s hard to see how much thought and preparation goes into various aspects of the farm and I think that’s been the most surprising part. I used to envision farming as mostly putting plants into the ground but there is so much planning and infrastructure to consider before that step takes place. Seeing the big picture and learning throughout an entire growing season at the farm school will be invaluable in my future farming career, in whatever form that takes shape.

Planting rows and rows of onions!

Lastly, I’d like to recognize our passionate and knowledgeable teachers and farm staff – Corine, Emily, Mike, Sara, Caroline, Kent, Deborah, Emma, Brian and Gray. Without them there would be fewer future organic farmers – so a big thank you to all!

– Katherine

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