Local and Sustainable Farming Year Round
Catching up with our friends at Vibrant Farms, an organic grass fed beef farm, and the importance of buying local and sustainably.
It's the middle of winter. We have just made it through the 'arctic vortex' with record breaking cold temperatures. The winter blues are settling in. This isn't typically the time of year that screams Buy Local! Buy Fresh! to you but rest assured local is still accessible.
One of our board members, Alex, caught up with the Baer family and Kathryn McEwin, of Vibrant Farms, a family run organic grass fed beef farm, located just outside of Baden.
What do you like about the winter?
Farming slows down and there isn't as much to do on the farm in the winter time. All of the field work is done, hay is in storage, cows are happy, no fences to make, and we get little bit of a rest after a summer of hard work and preparation for the year. Gotta say, the baby calves born in the winter are pretty awesome too all snuggled in the straw keeping cozy.
What products are offered throughout the winter and then come spring?
We have a steady supply of organic grass fed beef year-round. We mainly sell our beef in bulk packages of all different sizes to suit all budgets, household sizes and freezer capacity. It's the most affordable option for purchasing grass fed beef. Spring is about 'new beginnings' with new baby chicks and baby turkeys arriving at the farm. They will enjoy the summer outdoors on pasture and be organically raised and fed. The chickens are usually available around July and the turkeys right before Thanksgiving.
What's a fun fact people may not know?
This past year we had a calf born partially blind. The beginning of his life was a bit harder then for most calves. He often wandered in the field in circles because he didn't always know where he was going. Dennis took great care of him, ensuring he was still outside with all of the other calves and cows. Now the calf is 700 pounds! Dennis still loves interacting with him every day and seeing his animal happy and healthy.
Any changes coming up we should know about?
We are looking to change the pasture location of the chickens on the farmland to create better separation from the cattle and the organic garden. We love seeing the chickens roam around, however the community garden members that tend to the garden aren't so excited about it when the chickens eat their tomatoes! On the garden side of things, Laura (one of Denis's daughter's) will be continuing with the garden CSA and expanding the garden. We are hoping to have another successful year for the garden markets on the farm.
We are also looking at options as we grow to perhaps partner with a local farmer to offer organic grass fed lamb as our customers are very interested in this option. As well, we continue to work on growing our home delivery program from London, past Toronto and into Ajax. This also includes delivery to Waterloo Region and Guelph area. We are looking at adding a new order pickup spot in Waterloo at a holistic health clinic. Our current order pick up spot is at Sage Naturopathic Clinic in Cambridge. You can also find our meat in Top Market Farm store in Preston. We don't currently have an on site retail store on the farm, however we have an online store that is open 24/7.
Other then buying direct, what is the most effective way consumers can help local producers endure?
Get educated about food by asking local food producers questions like how the food was grown or raised, if the fields were sprayed with pesticides, are they certified organic or farming sustainably etc. Use local resources such as Foodlink and their map to find local food producers and support the ones in your local community. Most importantly, consumers should think about what food they are buying, why they are buying it, and how does it impact their own health, family, community and the environment. Be mindful and intentional about what you are supporting through your purchases. Does the food you are purchasing align with your personal values and ensure farmers can produce more for future generations?
We, Foodlink, have an online map and hard copy maps around the region to help you find local food. Our partners in Guelph, Taste Real, also have a map listing their local food partners. We encourage you to meet the makers and ask them questions. So when purchasing food we encourage you to buy local and support your local farming communities.