We are here today trying something a little bit different. We’re not doing a lesson related podcast today.
I have a very special guest here. Ah – my friend Tim, who – well, I’ll let Tim introduce himself. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Tim?
Hello, yes. My name is Tim, and I was – you’ll have to excuse the noises, I’m a new father, so there’s a little bit of gurgling going on in the background – so I was born in South Africa and I lived in the UK for most of my life, and then moved to Canada about seven years ago, and have been in Canada ever since, living in the province of Nova Scotia.
I am an agriculturalist, so I studied plant science at a university here and I have my own farm and work for the university as well.
So you’re a very busy man.
Very busy, yeah.
Okay, new father – that tops them all – and farm – this is a very busy time of year for you, I would imagine.
It’s all just getting going now, yes. So, we’re seeding a lot of plants right now. Starting transplants, preparing soil, um, putting up tunnels and row cover to protect the soil from frost, which is still happening, but it’s a really exciting time. We’re getting lots of new growth, the tulips are starting to come out of the ground, and it’s really exciting, yeah.
What’s your favourite season of the year?
My favourite season of the year would have [to be]… probably the spring – I love that change – the change from winter to summer is beautiful. Yeah.
And we get a decent spring here in Nova Scotia – not as good as they do in some places in continental Europe, from my experience – it’s not quite as long – that two, three month period of spring…
Springs are beautiful in the UK as well. My mum has been sending me pictures, and all of the daffodils are out already and it just looks gorgeous.
I’m gonna say that, not only do you have a baby in the house, you have a canine, Bailey, whom we hear chewing on a bone in the background – yes – giving us a very cute look right now…What kind of dog is she?
She’s a husky.
She is a husky – a good, old Canadian dog. And she is a sweetheart – she’s been my friend for many years as well. How old is she now?
Six and a half…
Six and a half. So, if you’re hearing a few extra odd-sounding sounds, it’s not ghosts in the background, it is Bailey, chewing on her bone, being a very happy dog.
So, what are you going to do with everything that you’re planting?
I’m hoping to sell it at local farmers’ markets, and we also have a vegetable subscription box, and what that is, is – people sign up at the beginning of the year, and they will give me money so that I can spend it on infrastructure – to build new tunnels, and buy my seeds and fertilizer, and for that commitment from them, I commit to giving them a box of vegetables throughout the year. So they get one box every week for eighteen weeks.
Wow. That’s a big commitment.
It’s scary to take people’s money without a product to give them right away. Yes.
How many people are you able to take on?
Last year, we took on eight – it was our first year and we’re a very small farm, um, but this year, we’re hoping to do twenty-five.
It’s a lot of people and we’re also hoping to expand the farmers’ markets that we sell at. So, we’re potentially going to be selling at a bigger farmers’ market in Halifax, which is the capital of Nova Scotia and we are hoping to get into a couple of local shops as well. We grow flowers as well as vegetables, so we’re gonna be selling bouquets of flowers.
Amazing! And I did some of the bouquets last year, which were just stunning, so that’s all very, very exciting. Wow. That’s – that’s ambitious.
I don’t know if I would have had that in me with a four month old at home. That’s great. And how big is your farm?
It’s only half an acre.
Half an acre.
So it’s very small, which means we have to get extremely creative with how we grow everything, so we’re doing a lot of intercropping, which is where we plant plants of different varieties together – umm – and so, as an example of that, we have low-growing things like spinach or lettuce, and then we’ll have a trellis on top of them that has cucumbers growing along it as a vine. So we’re really trying to maximize the space. And we’re also going to be growing mushrooms as well, which is fun. We’re going to be growing those at home, to, you know, free up some space at the farm.
So your home is an extension of the farm.
Naturally – and what is the name of your farm?
It is called Holdfast.
Holdfast. Tell me a little bit about that.
So the idea came about because we’re…we’re not certified organic, but we use natural – uh – amendments – we don’t use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides and we chose ‘Holdfast’, because we use a lot of seaweed based fertilizer, and the holdfast is what a seaweed holds onto a rock with on the ocean floor. It’s also a kind of nautical name, and it’s a strong name that speaks of Nova Scotia. I think it really fits well where we are.
I think that’s perfect. And so, if anybody wants to look up your farm, where can they do that?
The website is holdfastfarm.ca
That’s correct, yes.
And holdfast is h-o-l-d-f-a-s-t
We would love some European visitors to our website.
That would be wonderful! And, half an acre, how does that translate into hectares – for our European friends?
About a…slightly less than a quarter of a hectare.
Okay. I’ve never known the conversion.
Um. I think it’s 2.2 [two point two] acres in a hectare.
Oh, perfect. That works for me. Just like 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.
I may be wrong there, but I think it’s around that.
Close enough. And how is fatherhood treating you?
It’s been a wild ride. It’s been extremely enjoyable, but…so, our son is four months old and he’s amazing, but it has been a whirlwind of activity, and I can’t remember what I did last week. You know, it’s just all still a blur – um – I’m loving it, and it’s…we’re at the stage now where he’s – he’s engaging with things and he’s, he’s touching his toys, and he’s looking at himself in the mirror, and it’s a really exciting time. He’s really engaging with the world, and even with our dog, Bailey – he’s petting Bailey’s fur, and Bailey licks his face, which he doesn’t like, but…
And I have no doubt that he’ll have his little fingers in the soil this summer.
I hope so. Yes. Yup.
I remember that my son – there was nothing he loved better than digging potatoes when he was just beginning to walk.
Loved digging potatoes! And he’d also walk around with cucumbers – whole cucumbers – he’d pick them off the vine – probably two years old – and just chomp on them – all day long he’d be going back.
I’m so excited to grow him vegetables to eat.
You know, I would love his first meal to be something I’d grown. I think that would be really cool.
The timing might just be right.
And that’s something – so, you’re growing your food – there’s a big focus on sustainable agriculture now – food security is becoming a real, tangible issue these days – I guess it has been for some time – but it seems to really be at the forefront – so – it’s amazing that you’re doing what you’re doing.
Yeah. It really is. And it’s – I think it’s such a powerful thing for people to buy, and support local producers in their communities. I think one of the biggest issues we have right now is, there’s no association or trust between the person who eats the produce and the person who grows the produce, whereas, if you buy local, you can talk to the person who grew your food, and you know how it was grown, and you enjoy it more. I feel like it’s – it’s a really powerful thing, and we could have much better communities, and a better life in general, if we all embraced those around us more.
I agree…Tim, thank you so much. This has been – incredible chatting with you – maybe we’ll see if we can chat with you again – maybe when harvest season comes around.
That’d be fantastic.
It was my pleasure.
Well, thank you so much, and I – I have no doubt that our listeners will enjoy this immensely.
Thank you. Bye-bye.
Cvičení k epizodě Special Guest 1
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