What happened in Just Food’s first year of hosting farm programs at our site in the Ottawa Greenbelt?
1. Our new Start-Up Farm Program offered access to land, infrastructure, equipment and training to help new farmers start successful farm businesses in the Ottawa region:
- Three acres of land were cultivated using organic production methods;
- Nine new agricultural enterprises were established by new farmers;
- A new irrigation system and produce washing station were built;
- We purchased two walk-behind rototillers, a tractor and farm implements for field work;
- Over 13,000 pounds of crops were grown and harvested;
- Produce was delivered to over 50 CSA customers and 5 local restaurants;
- A new farm gate stand supplied hundreds of customers in Blackburn Hamlet with fresh produce;
- The farm site was pre-certified organic with EcoCert Canada;
- Seven training workshops were held for new farmers;
- Five farm tours were held and dozens of visitors came to check it all out.
2. Just Food hosted three Partnership Programs with non-profit community groups at our farm in 2013:
- Farmworks with Operation Come Home: helping youth at risk build their farming skills on a one acre plot;
- Karen Community Farm with KLEO (Karen Learning and Education Opportunities): helping new Canadians with agrarian backgrounds connect to their new environment on a one acre plot;
- Apple Blossom: a weekly day-program for children and their parents to connect to the farm, including the development a children’s garden near the farmhouse.
Benefits to Start-up Farmers:
- Access to farmland, shared equipment and infrastructure at a smaller investment and reduced risk compared to starting their own independent farm;
- A chance to start small and grow slowly before having to make a longer term commitment to a farm business;
- A network of new growers to collaborate with and learn from;
- Convenient access to the urban Ottawa market;
- Skills development through training courses and staff support.
- Fresh, local produce is available to residents at our Farm Gate Stand and directly from the farms;
- New local businesses will spend money on local goods and services;
- The farm site is being maintained and enhanced as a community site, accessible by bus, car and bike;
- Organic production at the farm means no chemicals or contamination of the land, water, air, or wildlife.
Benefits to Just Food:
- We are able to support new farmers on our site, as well as continuing to support famers throughout the region;
- We are building a dynamic, innovative farm that can serve as an accessible destination for schools, agri-tourism, and the general public;
- We can offer a diverse range of educational workshops and tours to help people learn where their food comes from.