Seeds of success
A few homegrown crops can go a long way toward cutting shopping bills, says local farmer
TRURO, N.S. – Frank Cochrane firmly believes everyone should learn how to grow their own food.
And at a time when Feed Nova Scotia says one in six Nova Scotian households are food insecure, Cochrane’s Seedy Saturday message is a timely one.
“If you have a little bit of food growing in the background, it’ll go a long way to cutting your grocery bill every month,” Cochrane says.
His message appears to be resonating, with dozens of people cramming into a small Truro classroom to learn about basic farming techniques on Saturday.
Cochrane says the key to success involves both mental tenacity and growing seeds on a raised bed to prevent weed infestations. Raised beds also allow the soil to aerate, with air, water and nutrients reaching crop roots. Compost, hay and manure make ideal nonchemical fertilizers.
At Cochrane Family Farm, a wide range of herbs, vegetables and flowers are grown on 30 acres.
However, Cochrane says the local food movement is still not quite mainstream in Nova Scotia.
“More folks are concerned about where their food comes from but no more people are getting into it,” Cochrane says.
Morghain Lee says she and her partner, Aaron Beale, are growing their own food for the sake of their baby son, Mettao.
“We want to teach him by experience and living by a good example with him and working the land for a sustainable future,” said Lee, who attended Seedy Saturday.
Helping them reach their goal is farmer Owen Bridge, standing behind the Annapolis Seeds stall at the Douglas Street Recreation Centre.
Unlike Cochrane, Bridge says the local food-growing movement is gaining ground, at least in the Annapolis Valley.
His seed range, from peas to squash, are selected based on their suitability for Nova Scotia’s climate and growing conditions. Bridge says these will produce the best crop yields.
“I’m definitely encouraged, because we moved to the Annapolis Valley from British Columbia 15 years ago and at that time there were no small farmers around,” Cochrane says.
For Bridge, growing food allows people to “move closer,” to the land and better connect with their food.
It is a point echoed by Cochrane, who says locallygrown food is more nutritious and environmentally friendly than produce trucked in from California or Mexico.
For Jenn Stotland, produce does not even have to be grown on a conventional farm. Speaking after her food forestry workshop, Stotland says a range of fruits and nuts can be grown on trees.
The trees, in turn, sustain a whole ecosystem such as shrubs and animals. Food such as potatoes can be grown in the soil near trees.
“It’s actually a very old way of gardening before and alongside vast fields of the same things,” Stotland says. “There’s a lot of local interest.”
Upper Stewiacke farmer Frank Cochrane says growing one’s own food can cut grocery bills at a time of food insecurity.
Owen Bridge sells a wide range of seeds for people wishing to grow their own food.
Morghain Lee, from Maple Grove in East Hants, wants to teach her son Mettao how to grow his own food.
Owen Bridge is happy to discuss his wide range of seeds with potential customers.