Our Farming Practices
When we talk about growing food, there are a lot of catch-phrases and terms floating around out there.
Organic, non-organic, natural, sustainable, genetically modified, ethical….and the list goes on.
Even the word “LOCAL” is always open for interpretation.
As consumers, we have to watch out for misinformation and fake news, published to purposely mislead us. It’s almost insulting to our intelligence when you think about it, isn’t it?
Why do we tell you this?
Because farming is not immune to the ‘fake news’ phenomenon, and quite honestly, it can be a real chore to discern fact from fiction.
How Do I Farm Thee…Let Me Count The Ways
There are about as many approaches to farming as there are farmers…and here’s the thing…. NONE of them are wrong. (To be clear, we’re speaking of responsible, reasonable farmers here….there are always that 1% who ruin it for everyone. We don’t include them in this.)
Contrary to what you may envision, in a room full of farmers, we don’t line up on opposite sides (organic vs. non-organic, free-range vs. traditional housing, etc.) and take shots at each other.
We have a mutual respect, and – understanding the challenges faced across the entire sector – we truly want every farm to be successful.
We are a community.
With that knowledge in our pockets, it’s then up to the consumer (that’s YOU…..and US too!) to make well-informed decisions about which farms and farming methods we are comfortable supporting.
As the farmer, the best thing we can do is to share honestly and openly about our methods and leave the choice up to you.
Regardless of what you choose in the end, we THANK YOU for coming to the source seeking answers to your questions and concerns.
It would be irresponsible for us to comment on how or why other farmers do the things they do.
How We Do Things Here At Miller’s Bay Farm
While we appreciate that a percentage of farmers have chosen the organic route, it is not an avenue that we have pursued. We believe we can do the best job of growing our chosen crops and caring for the land when we make use of the proven technology and crop protection systems available to us.
As you probably are aware, Canada enjoys one of the safest supplies of food in the world. Organic and Conventional producers alike are subject to strict regulations when using any sort of crop protection. (Yes, organic producers use fertilizers and pesticides too!)
We take this responsibility very seriously and we carefully follow all prescribed guidelines.
Here are a few specific practices we use to help us care for the land
We work closely with a Certified Crop Advisor to make sure that our fields stay healthy. Regular soil samples are collected and analysed to make sure nutrients remain balanced. This guides planting decisions, and ensures that over-application of fertilizer does not happen.
Our seeds, plants, and seedlings are sourced from trusted professionals. Starting with top quality inputs helps to avoid potential problems later on. Much of our garden is meticulously planted by hand, or with a small hand operated seeder.
Except for our perennial crops, it would be rare to see a crop repeated in any of our fields within a three-year span. Each crop takes different nutrients from the earth AND benefits the soil in a unique way after a growing season is over.
Pest management is just that – management. We must keep a close eye on each crop ALL season long. What was an issue last year may not cause concern until several years down the road. We combine an Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM), with the guidance of yet another Crop Specialist. This ensures that we can keep tabs on the ever-changing threats to our berry and vegetable crops.
When threats arise (disease, insect, weed, fungus, weather-stress….), we are able to make educated decisions in order to minimize their effect.
We routinely update our training and certification for many aspects of the farm. We hold current certifications in First Aid & CPR, Integrated Pest Management, Grower Pesticide Safety and the Environmental Farm Plan, to name just a few. We also spend time each winter attending seminars and conferences. Sharing ideas and learning from knowledgeable industry partners is always worthwhile.
Some years the rain that’s provided is just not enough. We hold a Permit to Take Water approved by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.
The Miller Family has worked this land for generations. Out of respect for those before us, and those who will come after us, we choose to take good care of the land. We are constantly looking for ways to ‘leave it better than we found it’. We consider it a privilege to be the stewards of this farm. It’s a responsibility we do not take lightly.