The Farm

REAL. GOOD. FOOD. That’s our motto.
We farm because we love people, plants, animals and food.  This little piece of God’s earth we work is a tremendous opportunity to bring folks together, and canvas to express ourselves.  We aren’t doing this to stick it to Monsanto, or convert anyone.  We hope our work speaks for itself and that you can taste and see that what we’re up to is healthy, and fun and engaging.  We try not to take ourselves too seriously – because when you work around livestock long enough, you start to see the similarities…

Salt of the Earth Farm is operated by Charles Summers and Morgan Alger.  Morgan comes from the Wild West, but is the nice, pretty, put together one and will probably talk you into signing up for the CSA or ordering a side of beef.  She’s got a Master’s degree in something or another and has a “real job” with the Province of Ontario. Morgan is good at spreadsheets, artwork, planting soil blocks, earning a steady paycheque and petting chickens.  She’ll be thirty as of March,  but still gets carded at the LCBO.

IMG_2781

Chuck n’ Mo back in the Sugarbush – Christmas 2014

Charles is the constantly muddy/dusty/sawdust covered man from Belleville-cum-Nova Scotia.  He has so much family here in Kingston, that you can’t throw a rock without hitting one of them.  Moving back to the area is the best thing he ever dun did.  He is now over thirty, losing his hair and beginning to get creaky.  Charles likes to play with horses, knock trees over and fantasize about creating the coolest farm ever.  If you happen to bump into him on the ranch, he is known to cease his toil and talk your ear off for an hour about esoteric/archaic agricultural practises while you smile and nod.  If he’s out of mixed gas, or there’s ice everywhere, he’ll even work on this website.

Salt of the Earth is a little baby farm.  On steroids.

2014 was a great start for Salt of the Earth.   This is thanks to all of our customers who took a leap of faith, and invested in our CSA programs.  We were able to start a farm from scratch on land that hadn’t been worked in over 60 years!  It was year of building infrastructure, momentum and the vision of a full diet, diverse, ecological farm in the heart of our community. Somehow we did it.

Farmgate, Google Streetview - Sept 2013

Farmgate, Google Streetview – Sept 2013

One year later.. Farmgate: CSA Pick-Up, Sept. 2014

One year later.. Farmgate, Lahbwee and Morgan at CSA Pick-Up – Sept. 2014

Salt of the Earth started in the Fall of 2013 when the opportunity to farm here came up – this, thanks to the land’s owner: Charles’ amazing and benevolent Uncle.  It seemed daunting and unbelievable at the time – would never have imagined we’d come so far, so fast.  Back then, full of hope, Charles said to his lady as they walked through the weedy old hayfields: “Morgan, this is the start of a farm here…”

“Actually Charles, this is the end of a farm.” And of course, Morgan was right.  The marginal land base and suburban location left the land stuck somewhere between viable farming and inevitable development. The plan initially was to just plant a crop of garlic, grow some green manures and sorta watch what happens.  We still lived downtown, and didn’t have the necessary capital to start a business, let alone a farm.

Because Charles is such a romantic chump, once he got access to a bit of land, he went and bought a team of horses.  Couldn’t help himself.  And so, before you knew it, we were keeping chickens and pigs and cattle too.  After all, “Once you have to do chores everyday, might as well go all in!”  Oh, and a Vegetable CSA to boot – good excuse to use draft horses!  Morgan put the vision down with artwork, Charles put it out on the interweb, and before we knew it, we had a small customer base, and just enough money to make a go of it.  2014 flew past in a sweaty blur, and somehow all that vision we put out there became real.  So now, a year later, instead of the idea of a farm, we actually have a farm…  We owe a tremendous amount of thanks to our customers, friends and family – you got us there!

Landbase

IMG_4373

Fall 2013 – Pond building

We are blessed with the stewardship of large, diverse and beautiful piece of property close to the St. Lawrence River and Downtown Kingston.  Our northern border is CFB Kingston, our southern, the old King’s Highway, and are surrounded on three sides by residential development.  The land encompasses woodlots, overgrown pastures, grasslands and arable fields.  Altogether there is 300+ acres to work – some of it is fairly decent farmland, even more of it saturated wetlands, mature forest, rocky scrub and limestone tableland. While this is a limitation from a conventional farming perspective, for us, these niches represent opportunities for diversity and mixed farming.

Sugarbush on fractured Limestone knoll

Sugarbush on fractured limestone knoll

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of our landbase is its size, and proximity to Kingston’s core.  There is so much to do and so much we want to share: so many different terrains, systems of food production, environments to regenerate and cultivate. To put it in perspective: Salt of the Earth’s farmgate is closer to Wolfe Island Ferry than the VIA Station by half a kilometre. Walking from corner to corner across the land is a bit further than walking up Princess St. from Division to Sir. John A (with a whole lot more cow pies, swamp and boulders in between).

June 2014 - Facing south across market gardens in the west field.  Note drainage equipment in the background and Wolfe Island windmills on the horizon.

June 2014 – Facing south across market gardens in the west field. Note drainage equipment in the background and Wolfe Island windmills on the horizon.

Sept 2014 - Forman Farms finishes Tiling Pt. 2

Sept 2014 – Forman Farms finishes Tiling Pt. 2

Naturally, one year into this we’ve only scratched the surface of this resource.  There is much to be done before Salt of the Earth begins to realize the land’s potential.  Lots of planning, hard work and expense: land to clear, fences to build, ponds to dig, roads to grade, manure to spread.   In 2014 we cultivated about five acres of gardens, fenced about twenty acres of pasture and had fourteen acres of our best land tile drained (a game changer for our market gardens).  2015 will be another year of growth and change. At the rate we’re going, we’ll have the place under control before too long.

 

One thought on “The Farm

  1. Everybody is looking forward to meeting you and Charles there !!! It´s great. We are very happy for you. We will definitely go with Esteban one day…soon.

What do you say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s