Seeds of suc­cess

A few home­grown crops can go a long way to­ward cut­ting shop­ping bills, says lo­cal farmer

Truro Daily News - - COMMUNITY - FRAM DINSHAW [email protected]­daily.com @truro­daily

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.”

FRAM DINSHAW PHO­TOS/TRURO NEWS

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.

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