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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“If you fall here, it’s easy to get back up.”

There’s still time to apply for the apprenticeship: The deadline is Friday February 12.

If you are interested in applying to be the Bethany Garden apprentice(s) in 2016, please submit a letter of intent, a résumé, and three references to Jen Greenberg (jenredfox@gmail.com) before February 12 2016.  Selection of an apprentice will take place in February so the apprentice can get started early in the spring of 2016.

Michael and Colleen at Market, July 11, 2015Colleen Freake and Michael Overmars, who were the apprentices in 2015, reflected on their experience:

Michael: It’s amazing the depth of things that you learn with the initial act of planting a seed.  At the moment, you reflect having never done anything like this before, I hope I’m ready for this — go for it.  All of a sudden you’re on board — it’s a wild ride — you’re making decisions that you never anticipated, forced to step outside your comfort zone and persevere because in essence, what you’re doing you know is right, the soil, the food, the community — that’s what matters.  Sometimes you’re right and most of the time you’re wrong but those are the best opportunities to learn and adapt, and this is the place to do it.  Bethany Garden is an amazing self-led learning opportunity in an incredibly supportive and beautiful environment.  If you fall here, it’s easy to get back up.

Colleen: The process of apprenticeship is in itself rewarding and includes personal growth, development of values, ideals, and plans for the future.  The support of the Antigonish community, and beyond, has been outstanding.  The family farms and gardens in the area are friendly allies and provide good examples to apprentices.

Michael, Colleen, harvesting

Photo: Sr Florence Kennedy

Colleen and Michael, July 14, 2015 (1)

Photo Sr Florence Kennedy

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Bethany Garden Apprenticeship Program 2016

David Greenberg talking with Colleen and Michael as they prepare for Jean-Martin's visit.

David Greenberg talking with Colleen and Michael, Summer 2015

This program is a unique opportunity for someone to have access to land, resources, and experienced mentors as they start small-scale gardening.

The Sisters of Saint Martha are the land owners and program sponsors for the Bethany Garden Apprenticeship Program.  The purpose of the program is to provide the opportunity for an Apprentice Gardener to learn about small-scale gardening and the best practices for sustainable food production in an environmentally friendly and responsible manner.

In the summer of 2014, two apprentices were selected for Bethany Garden.  Sean (full time) and Michael (part time) helped develop the garden infrastructure and grew enough produce to sell significant amounts of product for the Antigonish Farmers’ Market, Chester Farmers’ Market, as well as several restaurants.

In 2015, Michael returned once again in a part-time role joined by Collen as the full time grower.  The garden was beautiful and very productive.  They were able to double the income from the previous year.  Almost all of this was sold within Antigonish.

For 2016, we are looking for (a) highly motivated, capable person (people) who

  • has some experience with small scale gardening;
  • has a clear sense of what they want to accomplish and learn;
  • has some business experience;
  • has good work ethic;
  • is committed to ecological methods of growing food;
  • is financially able to sustain themselves; and
  • is able to work independently but knows when to get help

The Bethany Garden Apprenticeship Program will provide basic garden infrastructure, such as a Hoop House (17 x 100 feet) and a small seedling greenhouse; a wash station; tool storage area; potable water for irrigation and washing; a BCS walking tractor; some hand tools; and compost.  Mentorship support will be provided by phone and text; a monthly visit; and through other phone and email communication as needed.  The apprentice will be responsible for seed, concentrated fertilizer, row cover, and other consumables such as fuel.

This position is not paid, however the apprentices sell the produce they grow and keep the income except for a percentage that covers their tuition.

If you are interested in applying to be the Bethany Garden apprentice(s) in 2016, please submit a letter of intent, a résumé, and three references to Jen Greenberg at the address below before February 12 2016.  Selection of an apprentice will take place in February so the apprentice can get started early in the spring of 2016.

To follow the progress of Bethany Garden, please see www.bethanygarden.wordpress.com.

seeding!

Seeding!

Colleen and Michael, July 14, 2015IMG_9797Colleen harvesting, Oct 5, 2015IMG_0427

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Sept 23: Coady Visit

Colleen showing guests from the Coady Institute around the garden

Colleen showing guests from the Coady Institute around the garden

Bethany Garden is so beautiful and productive!  So well tended!  There is a lot of food coming off this one acre demonstration plot.  There were many visitors on Wednesday from the Coady Institute, and they noticed too.

David and I made the trip to Antigonish to meet with Colleen and Michael, help install the irrigation pipe, and review financial information.  Meeting some of the people from Coady was an extra bonus!  I talked with a woman from India who is going to send us some seeds of a vegetable she thinks we can grow here in NS.  I met Purity, who runs an environmental organization for youth in Nairobi.  But her father is a farmer and she has access to family land outside the city, so I think the visit inspired her to think more about the possibility of becoming a farmer herself.  She was impressed with the light-weight tools used at Bethany, and the seeder!  “Your tools and equipment make it all so much easier than it is back home.”  She was asking me about being a farmer, and then she paused, took a deep breath, and said “you seem so content.”  That took me by surprise.  It has been a challenging year for David and I on our farm, but then I took a deep breath and realized, yes.  I am content.  Purity seemed so wise, thoughtful, and perceptive.  I feel encouraged that she will be a strong leader in her country.

Purity and David

Purity and David

Michael and Colleen demonstrating some of the tools they use

Michael and Colleen demonstrating some of the tools they use

I wish I’d gotten around to meet every single visitor and heard their stories.  What a rich group!  Below are a few more photos from the day.

Michael, Colleen, and Sister Donna Brady answering questions from the visitors

Michael, Colleen, and Sister Donna Brady answering questions from the visitors

Michael explaining the production system

Michael explaining the production system

Excellent use of black silage tarp for weed control and reduced tillage bed preparation

Excellent use of black silage tarp for weed control and reduced tillage bed preparation

Spring onions and salad mix

Spring onions and salad mix

Colleen learning a few plumbing tricks from David

Colleen learning a few plumbing tricks from David

Harvesting onions

Harvesting onions

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

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

 

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July 28: A Special Visitor

IMG_9803We were honoured to have Jean-Martin Fortier visit Bethany Garden on Tuesday July 28. About 50 farmers came to see the garden, and hear what Jean-Martin had to say.  It was a great opportunity for farmers to get together and talk shop in the middle of the summer! Colleen and Michael, along with the Sisters of St Martha, were wonderful hosts.  I was so impressed with the garden and with this year’s apprentices!!!  Even though the day had a bit of rain, the atmosphere was super positive.  Jean-Martin seemed quite touched.

Michael and Colleen did a great job demonstrating the different techniques and tools they use in the garden.  JM, who put much of the system together and wrote about it in his book The Market Gardener, was very encouraging.

Here are a few photos from the day:

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Michael Overmars with flameweeder, wheelhoe, Jang seeder, and backpack sprayer

Michael Overmars with flameweeder, wheelhoe, Jang seeder, and backpack sprayer

Nice crop of carrots!

Nice crop of carrots on a raised bed!

The barn provided an ideal gathering space to share information

The barn provided an ideal gathering space to share information

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Michael demonstrating the use of the power harrow on a raised bed

Michael demonstrating the use of the power harrow on a raised bed

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Sister Donna Brady, (in red, but without a hat), is seeing the fruition of her vision to train young farmers.

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David Greenberg talking with Colleen and Michael as they prepare for Jean-Martin's visit.

David Greenberg talking with Colleen and Michael as they prepare for Jean-Martin’s visit.

Thanks to everyone who visited Bethany Garden!

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Summer!

Michael and Colleen at Antigonish Market

Michael and Colleen at Antigonish Market

Looks like Colleen and Michael are doing well at Bethany Garden!  Sister Florence Kennedy took a few photos to document the season so far.  For really great photos and updates, check out their Facebook site.  In other news, there will be a workshop here with Jean-Martin Fortier on July 28.  It will be about gardening better, not bigger.  Register online with Perennia.

Preparing the garden in May

Preparing the garden in May

Garden, July 4, 2015

Garden, July 4, 2015

Green House, July 4, 2015

Green House, July 4, 2015

Hoop House, July 4, 2015

Hoop House, July 4, 2015

Michael harvesting sweet summer turnips

Michael harvesting sweet summer turnips

Colleen, Sam, and little salad mix

Colleen, Sam, and little salad mix

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