St Martha’s New Grower Program…

… is seeking applicants for the 2018 season!

img_2848The St Martha’s New Grower Program is seeking applicants who want to pursue gardening as a career.  The garden is set up with raised beds, irrigation, deer fence, and greenhouses.  It is mostly managed with plastic tarps and landscape fabric on raised beds for weed control. Beginning this year, we plan to have an additional acre in mechanically cultivated row crops.  Total area in production is two acres.   

A unique aspect of this program is it is mostly self-driven, with mentorship support.

A barn near the garden houses many tools, including a BCS walking tractor and implements.  There is also a walk in cooler and a vegetable processing area.  High quality compost, cover crop seed, electricity and water are included. Mentorship from two experienced market gardeners is a key component of this educational program.

Each participant pays a fee of $4,000 or 50% of gross sales, whichever is less.  Participants also purchase seeds, fuel and other consumables.  In 2017 two people working full time had total gross sales of $40,000 on one acre.  Knowledge, hard work and weather in the growing season are factors that determine what income can be made. Applicants should be able to support themselves financially until harvests from the garden exceed startup expenses.  It is also helpful to have access to a vehicle for transporting produce to market.

If you are in transition between apprenticing on farms and starting your own market garden, or if you have some experience growing vegetables and need to learn all aspects of market gardening this is a perfect learning opportunity for you.  If you are from out of the area, we will do our best to help you find a place to live nearby.  The Bethany Garden is located right in the dynamic town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, home of St Francis Xavier University.  

Please apply ASAP! This position will be open until filled.

To apply, send a cover letter, and resumé to Jen Greenberg (jenredfox@gmail.com).

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The purpose of this initiative is to provide the setting that brings together professional skills and the needed equipment to allow an individual to learn all aspects of small scale, ecological and economically viable gardening.

The Martha’s New Growers program was born out of the Sisters of St. Martha’s commitment to youth, empowering and developing people, and living in right relationship with the land. The hope is that the program offers support for a vital career choice for future generations, encouraging a counter-cultural stance and way of life. The project is built on values of collaboration, service, justice and stewardship. The Sisters feel blessed to have highly qualified people sharing their values and willing to invest their time and expertise in this project.

 

Martha’s Garden from Peter Murphy on Vimeo.

 

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Canada Day, 2017

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Putting the Garden to Bed workshop, 2016

 

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Sr Florence, David, and Sr Donna in the new section before it was plowed, 2017

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David and Gyungbo, 2017

 

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David checking out new section after the soil was worked, 2017

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Garden, first year

Colleen and Michael, July 14, 2015 (1)

Colleen and Michael, 2nd year garden

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Jean-Martin Fortier visits the garden, 2015, along with Bonnie Quinn and Will Murphy

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Colleen, Sam, and little salad mix

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Michael, David, and Sean in first year garden

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Learning how to use the ‘Jamaica Hoop’ to save time when lacing up the hoop house.

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Gyungbo and Mac setting up another hoop house, 2017

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Wyanne and Rita at market, 2016

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Fall crops after being irrigated. Where are the weeds??

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Gyungbo and Kendra at Antigonish Market, 2017

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Seeking New Growers for 2017 Season

Please note: The deadline for applications (2017 season) has been extended.  To apply, please send a résumé and letter of intent to Jen Greenberg (jenredfox@gmail.com).  We will begin interviews as soon as we get promising applicants.

The Bethany Garden New Grower Program is seeking motivated individuals who want an opportunity to learn about gardening as a career.  The garden is set up with raised beds, irrigation, deer fence, and greenhouses.  A barn near the garden houses many tools, including a BCS walking tractor and implements.  There is also a walk in cooler and a vegetable processing area.  High quality compost, cover crop seed, electricity and water are included. Mentorship from two experienced market gardeners is a key component to this program.

Each year, participants pay a fee of $4,000 or 50% of gross sales, whichever is less, and purchase seeds, fuel and other consumables.  Knowledge, hard work and weather in the growing season are factors in determining what income can be made but the garden has been able to net $30,000 from May to November. Applicants should be able to support themselves financially.  Income for new growers depends on sales from the garden.  It is also helpful to have access to a vehicle for transporting produce to market.

 If you are in transition between apprenticing on farms and starting your own market garden, or if you have some experience growing vegetables and need to learn all aspects of market gardening this is a perfect learning opportunity for you.  If you are from out of the area, we will do our best to help you find a place to live nearby.  The Bethany Garden is located right in the dynamic university town of Antigonish, NS.

Below are a few photos from the 2016 season:

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David reviewing BCS operation

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Seedling production

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Getting ready for market

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David leading a workshop on tools

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Antigonish market

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Growing melons

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Seeding the rye cover crop at the end of the season

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Cleaning up the greenhouse at the end of the season

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Workshopping and wellbeing…

I, for one, love a good visit! Visits are a time for chatting with your neighbours, catching up with old friends, and meeting new and interesting people. And, it just so happens that a visit is exactly what we had up at the Bethany Garden a couple of Saturdays ago when our mentors, Jen and David, made the trek up from the Annapolis Valley to help us put on a market gardening workshop.

IMG_2093You might be thinking: “Hey now, an event with the word work spelled right into it sure doesn’t sound like a nice visit”. But, I assure you, in my eyes, it really did constitute a visit in its truest form. Honest to God, all of us who gathered that day seemed to not only learn tips, tricks, and technicalities from each other, but we also seemed to strengthen old, and build new relationships with each other.

While David did an outstanding job of taking the lead on explaining many of the technologies and strategies that us market gardeners use to aid us in our daily work, Jen, Werner, Wyanne, Mathieu, and myself chimed in when there was something to add, chatted with our new friends, and took the curious on little excursions to many corners of our garden.

IMG_2095It seemed as though everyone who attended our workshop – participants, mentors, leaders, apprentices, etc. – had both wisdom to share and minds eager to learn new things. We mainly learned about the BCS walking tractor and its various implements, the Jang seeder, flame-weeding, and preparing a permanent raised bed system. However, there were many questions, conversations, and side-notes about innumerable aspects of market gardening. We talked about, greenhouses, irrigation, soil quality, planning, and timelines. But, most importantly (in my opinion) was the underlying current in our conversations that flowed towards the overarching importance of growing good quality food in our own backyards and the people and communities which are nourished by that food.

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When I look back at the visits of my childhood to the porches and kitchens and living rooms of humble homesteads in Nova Scotia, I remember talk of family and neighbours and politics and religion. At the time, there didn’t seem to be a theme to it all, but now I look back at those visits and I see people talking about hard work and change. And, today I look back at our workshop and I see people talking about hard work and change. That’s why I think our workshop was more a visit than anything. In fact, I think it just about embodied what a visit should be – regular people talking about working hard, little by little, to eventually create great change and those dedicated people building relationships all along the way.

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June 18: Saturday garden workshop 2-5pm

 

IMG_5630You are invited to join David Greenberg and the four new growers at Bethany Garden in Antigonish for an afternoon gardening workshop.  There will be a hands-on instruction session with all of the human scaled tools used in the one acre garden. Topics covered include: The BCS walking tractor and its use, maintenance, and implements; using silage tarps and flame weeding to control weeds with minimum effort; hoop house tips and tricks; and a lot more.

We will meet at the garden by the barn and water tower, at 45 Bay St, Antigonish 2pm.

To register, email Jen Greenberg (jenredfox@gmail.com). There is no charge for this workshop.

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Spring at Bethany Garden

Although the winter weather seems to be lingering, there are also signs of spring all around.  The snow has melted, the crocuses are blooming, the grass is turning green, and we are getting down to work in the Bethany garden.  As four of us embark on the adventure of navigating this growing season together, we have all remarked on how far the program has come in the three years since it began.  The commitment, hard work, and skill of the new growers who participated in the program in the previous two years is apparent in the way the soil has been built up, in the infrastructure that has been put in place, and in the tremendous community support for the program.  We are also grateful for the vision, leadership, and knowledge that the program mentors (Jen and David Greenberg) and the Sisters of St. Martha have shown in creating this opportunity to support aspiring farmers.  As we begin this season, we want to acknowledge the thought and work that have gone into getting the gardens to where they are and express our thanks for this opportunity.  We hope to continue to build the soil and the program over the coming year.

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Rita, Matt, Wyanne and Werner – looking forward to working together this season

After getting together in late March to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the Sisters of St. Martha, we continued the process of crop planning (and seed ordering) by distance until Mathieu arrived in Antigonish on April 10th.  The following weekend we had our first in-person meeting with the whole team.  Werner and Mathieu had put the plastic down on the hoop house earlier in the week, and although snow had fallen in the meantime, inside it was warm and humid.  We talked about record keeping and managing finances, and got an orientation to some of the tools and equipment we have access to through the Bethany apprenticeship.  Rather than a large tractor, the Bethany program uses a BCS walk behind tractor which offers a big advantage in terms of being able to work the land earlier in the spring.  A BCS is also much less expensive, uses less fuel and has less of an impact on the soil.  The Bethany BCS has several attachments such as a mower, tiller, and power harrow.  Other tools we will be using (typical of intensive market gardening) include a Jang seeder, flame weeder, broad fork and wheel hoe.

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Despite the snow outside, inside the hoop house was ready to plant

 

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Getting an orientation to the BSC walk behind tractor

Later in the week, we got together again to build a heat table in the seedling greenhouse and to plant the hoop house.  Things may be a bit muddy but we are thrilled to be putting some seeds in the ground and are looking forward to some early greens!

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Seeding the Hanley hoop house.  One of the advantages of the hoop house is that we can move it later in the season when we are ready to plant out tomatoes and peppers.

 

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Muddy boots!

This season, with more land in production and with more hands at work, we are planning to attend two weekly markets (in Antigonish on Saturdays and Mabou on Sundays).  We also hope to supply some local restaurants and the “Our Food Store” weekly food bags.  In addition, we will be offering a limited number of weekly veggie box deliveries in Antigonish and Mabou.  If you are interested in signing up for a weekly veggie delivery, please get in touch at bethanynewgrowers@gmail.com.

We look forward to seeing you at the market!

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Four New Growers at Bethany Garden

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David and Mathieu

We are so happy to announce that there are four new growers at Bethany Garden.  What a great way to welcome spring!  On Saturday March 19, the Memorandum of Understanding between the new growers and the Sisters of Saint Martha was signed, and a new season begins.

Rita Morley from Cape Breton and Wyanne Sandler from PEI, both very familiar in Antigonish, were selected, along with Werner Ajquejay (Wyanne’s husband) and Mathieu Tremblay from Ottawa.  We wish them all the best for this season!

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Rita signing the MOU

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Werner and Wyanne signing the MOU

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Rita and Sister Rita

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Accepting new applicants for Bethany Garden New Grower Program

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Colleen and Michael (2015 participants) with David Greenberg (mentor)

The Bethany Garden New Grower Program is seeking motivated individuals who want an opportunity to learn about gardening as a career.  The garden is set up with raised beds, irrigation, deer fence, and greenhouses.  A barn near the garden houses many tools, including a BCS walking tractor and implements.  There is also a walk in cooler and a vegetable processing area.  High quality compost, cover crop seed, electricity and water are included.

Participants pay a fee of $4,000 or 50% of gross sales, whichever is less, and purchase seeds, fuel and other consumables. Last year our participants (one full time and one part time, working together from early May until mid November) sold almost $38,000 worth of produce.  After paying expenses, there was net revenue of almost $30,000.

 If you are in transition between apprenticing on farms and starting your own market garden, this is a perfect learning opportunity for you.  You also get access to two experienced market gardeners as mentors.  If you are from out of the area, we will do our best to help you find a place to live near by.  The Bethany Garden is located right in the dynamic university town of Antigonish NS.

To apply, please send a résumé and letter of intent to Jen Greenberg (jenredfox@gmail.com).  We will begin interviews as soon as we get promising applicants.Colleen and Michael, July 14, 2015 (1)

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