Stone Meadow Gardens – Organic Veggies and Flowers
On July 9th, Carl and Sarah Kistner showed us around their beautiful farm. It was scorching hot, but all were happy to be in good company, surrounded by colourful flowers atop healthy soils.
Read on to learn more about this
beautiful True Local farm.
Watch this Farm Tour video which shows a few snippets of our visit to Stone Meadow Gardens and Hummingbird Farm
What do you grow and how long have you been growing it?
We grow approximately 2 acres of certified organic mixed vegetables and cut-flowers on our small farm in Tarrys. This is our third season of farming here and our second season of growing full-time. We have, however, been working on improving our soil for much longer than that. At Stone Meadow, our soil lives up to its name. That’s one of the many reasons why soil building and improvement is our top priority.
Stone-laden soil makes for an extra challenge I’m sure, but what do you love about farming? Why do you do what you do?
One of the things we both love about farming is that it’s never boring! Our diverse skills and interests make us a good team and farming allows us to each use those skills to the fullest. From inventing new tools to arranging bouquets to figuring out why the tomatoes are splitting, there’s always something to keep us on our toes. No two days (or seasons) are ever the same, and we enjoy navigating the challenges that each day brings.
As new farmers we are always looking for ways to create and refine systems that allow us to be more productive and efficient while still maintaining our commitment to growing in a responsible way. We love reading and exploring new ideas, and with farming, you’re guaranteed a steady stream of opportunities for life-long learning.
Thinking back to our farm tour, I can suggest one great example of how you’ve refined a system to be more efficient… Your greenhouse on tracks is an incredibly innovative invention! Can you tell us a little about that?
Carl has experience welding, so he constructed a steel track and built our hoophouse on a frame with wheels welded on the bottom. That way, we can start cool season crops such as carrots under the protection of the tunnel and then slide it down the track to plant warm weather crops like cucumbers and tomatoes when the weather has settled later in the spring. As a result, we don’t lose the valuable space in the hoophouse waiting for carrots to mature. We can get this important crop in the ground early and still get our tomatoes planted at the right time under cover!
I just think that’s so cool. That’s the kind of effort that starts with the question, “Wouldn’t it be so much easier if…”
What’s your long-term vision for your farm?
Our ultimate goal is to create a farming system that respects the environment, is economically viable and provides sustenance (for the body and soul!) for the people of our community. We therefore use simple, low-tech, organic methods that focus on building soil health to grow our vegetables and cut-flowers. Many of our growing beds haven’t been tilled for 3 seasons. Our goal is to integrate a cover-cropping and soil building system that will allow us to completely eliminate tilling.
Worldwide, agriculture is a top contributor of carbon emissions and that’s before the food has even left the farm! We believe that farming, and especially doing it in a way that can actually improve the land, is the best way that we can take direct action to help make a difference in our community.
From what I can see, you’re already succeeding in that goal! Do you have a message for our members?
We want co-op members to know that their choices really do make a difference. If you’re taking the time to read this, then chances are you’ve already made the commitment. You already shop at independent local businesses and know the importance of buying food grown by local farmers who care about their community. You know that you vote with your dollar and you’ve read the statistics about how much more power that dollar has when it stays in your town.
So, what we want people to know is that it all matters. The effects are real. From our standpoint, the Co-op is a critical part of that system that can slowly help us make this community the place we all dream it can be. They go out of their way to support, nurture and encourage small local farms and producers. That’s because they care and believe that it’s important and vital to the future of our town. So really what we want to say is thank you. Because you, the members, are the Co-op.