News/Events - November 2013

DIY Bees Nests for Solitary Cavity-Dwellers

Here's Project Manager, Susan Chan, demonstrating how to utlize an invasive plant like Phragmites to the benefit of bees and your garden. Simply harvest the stems in the fall, and create nests for solitary, cavity-dwelling pollinators, like leafcutter bees and mason bees.

This would be a great project for you and the kids during the off-season. If you made several of these to be scattered around your property in the early spring, you could potentially increase the numbers of pollinators in your garden by a large margin. 

Season Extension Farm Tour @ Chick-a-biddy Acres

Last Sunday, Farms at Work and 26 of our closest friends were invited to tour the hoop houses of Chick-a-biddy Acres and learn all about the world of season extension. Folks on the tour included current and aspiring vegetable farmers, and avid home-scale gardeners, who, when gathered in a room together, made up an inspiring cross-section of the entrepreneurs and producers in our region.

The group was not fazed at all by the threat of cold weather. In fact, the north wind and sleety conditions served as a great accent to the day's take home message: that with some modest investments and a bit of craftiness, it’s more than possible to remain productive and profitable in the vegetable business well into the colder parts of the year.

Sherry Patterson, owner and operator of Chick-a-Biddy Acres, has been farming vegetables for well over a decade. Her new business partner, Josh Blank, started occasionally working and volunteering for Sherry several years ago. On the recommendation of friends, Josh found his way into a full-season internship under Sherry. Since then, the two have worked so well together that Josh has been made a full partner in the business.

As we made our way through each of the farm’s four hundred-foot hoop houses, Sherry and Josh happily fielded all manner of questions, from construction to maintenance, cold-hardy varieties to production techniques, and marketing to capital investments. It was certainly an informative few hours, and we’re quite certain that many growers left inspired to try their hands at lengthening their own seasons next year.

We’d like to thank Sherry and Josh for welcoming such a large crew to their farm on a Sunday afternoon, and for sharing their knowledge and experiences so openly with the group. We’d also like to thank everyone who made the trek out to Hastings on such a blustery fall day, and for their help in strengthening the agricultural community across our region.

Stay tuned for the next one!

Free Workshop: A Landowner's Guide to Ponds

Partners in the Kawartha Farm Stewardship Collaborative are hosting a free workshop for landowners on November 26, 2013. Presented by Ducks Unlimited, the Community Streams Steward Program, and the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority, A Landowner's Guide to Ponds will teach you about pond construction and maintenance, as well as outline the funding sources available to landowners for such projects. 

For more details, check out the event poster. Pre-registration is required. Contact stream_steward@ofah.org to reserve your spots today!

Updated PMRA Report on 2013 Bee Mortality Rates

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) have released an updated report on their findings related to Canadian bee mortality rates in 2013 and the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed. The report clearly stats that, "...current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed are not sustainable." 

The PMRA has issued a Notice of Intent that outlines additional protective actions to protect bee populations from exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides. 

Consultation on the Notice of Intent is open for 90 days (closing on December 12, 2013). Stakeholders and the public are encouraged to submit written comments in relation to the intended measures to mitigate risks to pollinators related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed. 

Click here to read the full report.

If you'd like to submit your written comments to the PMRA, click here.

Great News for Farmers and Food Banks

Farms at Work has been closely following the progress of Bill 36 (the Local Food Act bill) and we've participated with several partners across the province in crafting proposals for amendament that will benefit local farmers growing food for our regional and provincial marketplace.

Recently a new amendment to the bill was passed that will create a tax credit for farmers who donate parts of their harvest to food banks, which will increase access to fresh food across the province. Have a look at the media release below for more details.