In 2018 Mingle Hill received its name. We are located in St. Ann’s and operate as a family-owned certified organic farm. Though we have always believed in growing food to share a means of sustainable living, that belief has been enhanced during the time of COVID-19. Working on a farm means listening to Mother Nature and working with her throughout each season. This year has been no different. We continue to seed, tend, water, amend and plant. When the weather brings a wind- or snowstorm, we move onto other work. A lot of that work looks different this season as we make adjusts in a time of quarantine.
At the farm, we all learned through experience. Each season we develop new skills and ideas to improve for future years; each night we bring home research to put into practice the following day. This year a big goal for us is education. Our hope is to provide knowledge about each vegetable we grow, to inform the community that we operate with zero food miles and certified organic growing practices, and to assist new growers on their journey.
Like many vegetable farmers, winter is a season of hope and anticipation. We have taken time to review what habits worked for us last season, and which did not. We have reviewed each variety of vegetable we grow to analyze its germination rate to its post-harvest storage longevity. Winter is also the season of Catalogues. The prospect of catalogue deliveries keeps farmers walking up and down their undoubtedly long driveways each afternoon to check the mailbox for the new season’s issue. For new growers, catalogues are generally free to request online and are filled with hundreds upon hundreds of vegetable and flower varieties. This is how we at Mingle Hill get started. If we did or did not like a certain variation last season this is our opportunity to either see if it is back in stock or to try an alternative.
The list we call, “The Seed Order” is mulled over for weeks before we finally hit send to purchase the assortment of seeds for the season. Not only does The Seed Order need to be reviewed for foreseen quantities, it also provides us with the platform to educate. For example, we have chosen cucumbers that are parthenocarpic. Parthenocarpic means that the male vs. female flowers do not matter because they will produce fruit without any pollination. This is great for greenhouses as bees don’t tend to hang out in ours too often.
One of our favourite concepts on the farm is “food miles.” Food miles is the distance food travels from where it is produced to where it is sold and consumed. Measuring food miles is one way to gauge the environmental impact of commercial food production and distribution systems (Rodale, 10). To put it into perspective for you, the food miles on our farm is less than one hundred steps. We harvest in our field and bring it down to our farm store where it is washed, stored or prepared for a customer. In contrast, an avocado must travel over 3,500 km from Mexico to Niagara. That means driving for nearly 40 hours straight to bring an avocado into a Canadian grocery store. This is why food miles are so important to us. We are certified organic and we have zero food miles. It’s not often you get both in the same place!
This year we were fortunate enough to start our season off with a two-part Organic Growing program partnered with the Grimsby Library. Through Zoom we illustrated the steps between choosing the vegetables for your garden to harvesting from it. Part 1 included choosing what to grow, where to grow and how to prepare your soil. Part 2 demonstrated the steps to seeding success, seedling needs and growth, hardening off, transplanting and outlining some pests and pollinators. There is an endless bulk of information that can be shared and learned so we truly hope you were able to catch the program. Lucky for you, we were able to sort out recording for our Part 2 session! For those of you that were unable to access our Resources document following the session, we have included it here for everyone to enjoy.
As you continue to grow for yourself or purchase local, organic goods remember that every step you take counts. Buying local supports your community and provides jobs to multiple individuals within it. Supporting small-scale organic farms near you decreases food miles and sequentially lowers the carbon footprint. Growing for yourself includes you in the company of other gardeners, which is a boundless cornucopia for learning. Getting your hands in the dirt is the ultimate application of your research and keeps idle hands and full minds steady. Here at Mingle Hill we are elated to begin another season with you whether it is bringing the field to your fork or insight as you build your own garden.
Thank you for growing with us!
Mingle Hill Farms
This year we are proud to have the addition of another Rozema on the farm: Olivia. Olivia has been building the online presence of Mingle Hill and ensuring the effects of isolation do not stop us from getting our organic goods to the community. Thank you, Olivia.
Tia Teeft: Farmer. She has a deep love for all things that grow, and carefully raises all of our plants from seeds until they are ready for the field. This is her blog to share her organic growing successes and struggles, and to talk about life on a farm.