Lucas and I recently took a wonderful trip to Broadfork Farm, a small-scale sustainable farm in River Hebert, Cumberland County, owned and managed by Shannon Jones and Bryan Dyck. Broadfork and ACORN teamed up to host a workshop on Monday July 16th, titled, ‘The Birds and the Bees: The Benefits of Biodiversity.’ This workshop discussed the benefits of maintaining on-farm biodiversity, and some practical ways through which we can increase biological habitat for creatures large and small. These ‘beneficials’ help farmers grow the best quality organic food possible!
Broadfork Farm incorporates many sustainable and innovative techniques on their farm (which is also internet-free! rare to find these days!), and is a registered ‘Bee-Friendly’ Farm meaning they provide habitat for several friendly bees that is maintained with biodynamic principles, and they support the approach to improve the health of honey bees in pollination services.
Joining us were Reg Newell, Stewardship Coordinator (NS Dept. of Natural Resources) and Roxanne Beavers, ACORN’s Organic Transition Specialist. Reg noted that this new farm already exemplified a diverse habitat due to their use of land and location near woodland areas. Roxanne also gave a talk on biodiversity, remarking that organic farms are proven to be more bio-diverse than conventional farms, as they are required to follow a set of rules or standards that specify the kinds of growing methods they can use. For example, organic farmers are required to plan and use diverse crop rotations that include cover crops, which preserves the soil from being in a constant state of vegetable production and harvest (which can remove too many nutrients the soil, if not properly replenished!). These cover crops can provide nectar for insects and plant material as food for worms, beetles, and soil microbes.
I am grateful for the opportunity to visit this farm. Shannon and Bryan did a great job showcasing the different facets of Broadfork Farm, exemplifying that these farmers truly care about their environment and take great care of their produce at every stage of development. I think that this visit has been a great hands-on experience in better understanding the ecology behind organic agriculture. I will be starting a Masters of Environmental Studies this fall, and I’ll be sure to do further research into the agricultural benefits of building biodiverse habitats. Thanks Broadfork Farm!
I didn’t really know what to expect when I set foot on Broadfork Farm, as it was my first excursion to a farm in recent memory. The house was what you would imagine a typical farmhouse to be, and yet unique in its own way. It was small and quaint with bright colors and peeling paint. The yard was wild and untamed around the edges, but had ordered rows and a hundred colours where it counted.
As the day progressed and we became more knowledgeable about plants, animals and biodiversity by the moment, we were given the opportunity to make our mark on the farm in the form of an insect mansion made out of recycled materials. It was essentially a combination of farm materials to create a habitat for small creatures. At Broadfork Farm it just seemed like the thing to do.
Three things really struck me as we made our way around the farm. I learned early on that virtually anything we saw on the ground was good to eat. We found wild blueberries, which we promptly popped into our mouths, and sniffed deeply from bunches of sweet fern along the road. There was no worrying about chemicals, additives or other dangers. I also learned that despite being of different size, shape, gender, upbringing and education, all of the people who came out shared the same passions for farming and agriculture; the energy and dedication was almost tangible.
The thing that struck me most though, were the mosquitoes.