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I just wanted to add a few comments for anyone considering farming at Riverglen Farm. I think this 100 acre, urban farm has a great deal to offer to a dedicated team of farmers. Its proximity to a huge customer base, great quality soil, farmhouse and outbuildings mean tremendous potential for the right candidates.
Perhaps even more importantly, this can essentially be a turn-key opportunity. The gardens are prepared, the fences are up, the irrigation infrastructure is there, the hoophouse and coolers are built, the wash station and prep areas are ready to go, there’s almost two dozen acres fenced for cattle, and the customers are eager to sign-up for their 2017 veggies. The value of this can be difficult for an up-and-coming farmer to grasp, but I cannot overstate how much this will help catapult your new business towards financial sustainability. Even without the equipment, there is a significant amount of momentum and interest around this farm that can make launching your new enterprise significantly easier.
However, the National Capital Commission is still made up of human beings. Many of these people are very talented, passionate individuals, committed to improving the relationship between the NCC and its tenants. In particular, the newly overhauled staff administering the NCC’s agricultural portfolio are determined to providing better service to its farm tenants, and are taking concrete steps to make that happen. This is definitely a good time to get involved with a greenbelt farm.
You will have help and support. I can share lessons learned over the years, and there are also more and more like-minded farm tenants already within the greenbelt, a notable example being the good folks at Just Food Ottawa. If you are well prepared, I know you can establish a positive relationship with the NCC and in return have access to an incredible, unique piece of agricultural property in Ottawa.
When considering taking on this farm property, make sure you are ready to make all the necessary investments yourself. Don’t expect any handouts, compensations, etc. Make a plan that utilizes the entire property; if your plan consists of maintaining a 2 acre garden plot, 2 horses and letting the rest of the acreage go to waste, you will not be considered. That being said, you can always rent pasture land to grazers, croppers, or other interested parties. You don’t have to do everything yourself!
And that’s all I wanted to add. Choosing a place to farm is a big decision and there are pros and cons to each location. While a single person flirting with bankcruptcy like me will have a hard time making ends meet here, I truly believe a well organized, dedicated group of individuals can really grow this farm into its full potential and make a happy, comfortable living here.
You may have heard by now that I have decided to leave Riverglen Farm this spring, and pursue my farming career elsewhere. Farming all alone in the suburbs has taken its toll on me and I am looking forward to getting a little more out of town and working within a team.
I am currently researching and applying for interesting positions on a sustainable/organic farm this summer. My requirements are fairly modest and a simple, minimum-wage, worker position will do. That being said, I believe I could also be an asset to a farm business with a bit more momentum who is looking for someone with enough knowledge and experience to take on some kind of management or lead role. I am happy to work with produce or livestock, or a combination of both. For the time being, I am not interested in starting my own enterprise in a new location. If you have such a position available, or know of someone who does, please let me know or pass on my information.
As for Riverglen, the NCC plans on marketing the property starting this February. They can be very challenging to work with, and have a pretty skewed view on ”supporting farmers”. Nevertheless, this is a 100 acre, almost river-front property with a 4 bedroom house and outbuildings, smack in the middle of Ottawa suburbia. Riverglen has a good following of loyal members and customers, all wondering where they will be buying their food this year. Not to mention the hoards of suburbanites that commute right by the farm every single day. I believe the right people could make a very decent living here, as long as they were well financed, capable of investment, ready to work with the NCC, and flexible enough to consider alternative income systems like Air BnB, camping, workshops, events, etc.
I do not plan on leaving any ”presents” to the NCC, as I feel I have already paid them more than my fair share for the use of their property, but I would be happy to bequeath and/or sell at a reasonable price my equipment and infrastructure (or farm business as a whole) directly to a new team of farmers, should they wish to take on tenancy at 230 Davidson’s Side Road. As I mentioned, the NCC hopes to have new tenants on the farm as early as this spring, and I am happy to accommodate the transition as best I can.
Everything must go!!! Realistically, I assume most of my equipment will be liquidated piece by piece to an assortment of interested parties. I have therefore included a link to a google spreadsheet, which inventories all available items and will be updated as it evolves. Please feel free to share this link to others you feel might be interested, and don’t hesitate to contact me for more information, pictures, details, whatever. It’s tricky to price some of this stuff, but hopefully it all eventually makes its way into happy hands and keeps on being useful.
I can’t express how much my experience here has shaped me as a person, and I am grateful to everyone who helped me along the journey. Here’s to the next chapter, more great experiences, more knowledge, and many more years working and playing outside.
Let me know if you don’t do the whole google thing and would prefer a static copy.
I have important news to share with you. After careful consideration, I have decided to leave Riverglen Farm.
Why? A simple (ok, it was a bit complicated and really challenging) cost/benefit analysis consistently showed that the benefits of working and living at Riverglen were simply outweighed by the costs.
I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of this chapter in my life. It’s incredible to look back and think of all the people, plants and animals who have come through the farm since I started my humble, bike-powered garden here in 2007. Some came for a quick visit, or made it their home for a while, and some even spent their entire lives here. And yet everyone, big or small, leaves their indelible impression on the land and the faces that inhabit it.
I have notified the NCC that I will be vacating their property by the end of April. They are already planning their marketing campaign and hope to have the farm rented to new tenants for this growing season.
I won’t be taking my equipment with me, so basically everything I have here needs to be sold. It may go piece by piece, but this could also be an interesting ”turn-key” opportunity for a group of keeners who want to buy Riverglen Farm’s assets, customers, distribution system, etc. and farm within city limits. Don’t hesitate to pass the word along and contact me for more information. Just because it is no longer working out for me doesn’t mean it couldn’t work out for someone else. In fact, in the hands of the right individuals, with some kind of capacity for investment, a little creativity and a lot of elbow grease, this farm could really thrive and generate a livable income for a small community or family!
As for myself, I am currently applying for positions offered by other sustainable farming enterprises and looking forward to working within a team of keen, competent individuals in a more nurturing, supportive and motivating setting. There are lots of wicked farm businesses popping up and gathering momentum these days, and it’s a great time for an experienced farmer/gardener like me to land a sweet gig and make a decent living.
The truth of the matter is, for the sake of preserving my own sanity and continuing my own personal development, I need to surround myself with less city-folk and more sustainable farmer-folk.
North-Americans represent only 20% of the world’s population and yet manage to consume 80% of its resources. It is painfully clear that the lifestyle of the average, middle-class Canadian is not even remotely close to sustainable, and that our luxurious existence is made possible by exploiting people at home and all around the world, decimating natural resources, and maintaining a constant surplus of just about everything and anything we might ”need”, whether or not it ever gets used or just ends up – like more than half of the food produced for Canadian consumption – as waste.
Riverglen has been an incredible part of my journey. I have learned so much during my time here. Livestock, gardens, predators, wildlife, sales, accounting, construction, problem solving, machine operation, human resources, contingency planning, efficient living, cooking, preserving, making firewood, fixing tools, web design, dealing with dead things, blogging, photography, composting… I love working with my hands. I love planning and making, screwing-up and trying again. Learning. Always learning.
Always, always learning.
I got to be here because of all of you, and you have my sincere gratitude for that. I will never forget the trust and support you have given me over the years, and I hope now you trust me enough to understand that I need to make this move. My soul needs healing, and I need to start earning more than I spend.
Just a few, quick reminders today:
CSA members, we have reached the end of the page, not the end of the season. There are still a few more pickups yet!
There are still tickets available for our 10th anniversary dinner on September 24th at $30 each.
We are also still taking orders for bulk beef to be delivered on September 22nd/23rd. We are offering 20, 40 and 80 pound packages.
Heading back out to harvest now! See you at the store, or send an email for more information. More pictures, updates and adventures soon. Enjoy the sunshine!