Saugeen River CSA

On my way to New York, I took a bit of a detour in Ontario to spend a few days at Saugeen River CSA, where my friend Greg was working as an apprentice.  The farm on the Rocky Saugeen is run by Cory Eichman.  He is incredibly knowledgeable about biodynamics, and it was fascinating to hear him describe the past, present, and future of the field’s patchwork of crop rotations.  The farm was full of surprises for me – heirloom vegetable varieties I had never heard of, beautiful Belgian draft horses that were astonishing in their size and power, and the peaceful sounds of gentle rain on the fields.  But the sweetest moments were the wonderful, unforgettable conversations I had with the farm’s apprentices Greg and Gill, two of the kindest, most open-hearted people I’ve ever met.  Their good nature made every task easy to approach – I’ve never felt more eager to weed and harvest vegetables!

By chance, I happened to be present for the annual customer inspection.  Cory came up with his “Community Inspected Agriculture” model as a way to offer the transparency of inspections to his customers without bearing the cost and administrative burden of certification.  Each year, Cory invites customers from the market and CSA to the farm and walks them through the inspection process and an extensive farm tour.  After all their questions are answered, the customer representatives write a report which is uploaded to his website.  Many excellent questions were asked that afternoon, and I was astonished at Cory’s depth of knowledge, not only about inspection processes but about farming in general.  I also got to ride along for a brief visit down the road to the Schmidt farm, an interesting site for those concerned about the battle for raw milk – there was a documentary called Milk War made a few years ago about Michael Schmidt, his cow sharing, and his run-ins with the Canadian government.  Seems there is a really interesting little pocket of food activists up near Durham, Ontario!  I am incredibly grateful for the time I got to spend on this farm with my gracious hosts.

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