Pride in the prod­uct

Dis­cov­er­ing a pas­sion for old-fash­ioned farm­ing

Truro Daily News - - Maritime Life - BY CAROLE MOR­RIS-UNDERHILL

Jake Mac­dougall grew up on a vine­yard car­ing for grapes, but he knew early on that life as a wine­maker wasn’t for him.

His heart lay some­where else, though it took work­ing in con­struc­tion and buy­ing a hobby farm to dis­cover what would ig­nite his pas­sion.

“My part­ner al­ways had horses. So, we kind of wanted to buy a hobby farm,” he said while pre­par­ing to greet guests at Mac­Dougall Mead­ows in Cen­tre Burlington.

“We started look­ing and this place came about and we bought it and I put in a gar­den and got some chick­ens and stuff. I thought, ‘Well, I can take this a bit fur­ther; I think I’ll try and sell some,’” Mac­dougall re­called.

“At that point, trace­abil­ity for my food was there. I was pro­duc­ing it my­self; knew where it came from, knew what (the an­i­mals) ate.”

He de­cided to start sell­ing prod­uct four years ago and, while the farm is still a small op­er­a­tion, Mac­dougall has a steady but grow­ing clien­tele.

And he’s just 28 years old. Mac­dougall is among the province’s grow­ing num­ber of young peo­ple help­ing re­de­fine farm­ing and agri­cul­ture. For him, it’s about tak­ing pride in the prod­uct and pro­vid­ing cus­tomers with healthy, lo­cal op­tions.

“It’s im­por­tant to know what you’re eat­ing, how it was grown and how it was pro­duced,” said Mac­dougall.

Mac­dougall Mead­ows is sit­u­ated on 11 acres off High­way 215 in Hants County. The farm pro­duces and sells free-range chicken, free-range turkey, pas­ture-raised pork and duck, and a va­ri­ety of veg­eta­bles. They have a pres­ence at the Hal­i­fax Fo­rum Farm­ers’ Mar­ket and Brew­ery Farm­ers’ Mar­ket on Satur­days and are set up at the out­door Wind­sor Farm­ers’ Mar­ket on Sun­days. They also par­tic­i­pate in the monthly pop-up mar­ket at Me­an­der River Brew­ery.

One as­pect that makes Mac­dougall’s farm re­ally stand out is the use of horses, versus ex­pen­sive farm­ing trac­tors. He is in the process of train­ing a new horse, Tina, to work along­side the al­ready-trained Cal­lie, so much of the gar­den­ing work has been done by hand.

While trac­tors can do the work faster, Mac­dougall said the ben­e­fits of us­ing horse­power far out­weigh the cons. Horses cause far less soil com­paction than heavy machin­ery. That, he said, ben­e­fits the soil and the crops in the long run. Horses also pro­duce ma­nure and while they have costs as­so­ci­ated with them, it amounts to less than the cost of spe­cial­ized, mo­tor­ized equip­ment.

Mac­dougall’s mother, San­dra Mac­dougall, and step­fa­ther, Bruce Wright, both vol­un­teer their time in the gar­den and help wher­ever they can.

She said they are proud of Mac­dougall’s en­trepreneurial spirit and the good food he’s pro­vid­ing.

“Some­one once said you should choose your farmer with as much care as you choose your den­tist, doc­tor and lawyer,” she said.

CAROLE MOR­RIS-UNDERHILL/SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Re­becca Shirley holds Fos­ter as he watches his dad, Jake Mac­dougall, check in on the horses at the farm. The young fam­ily may be new to the world of farm­ing but they al­ready have a steady and grow­ing client base.

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