Friday, August 7, 2009

Why Heritage Lane Farm

For a number of years Kelly and I have talked about having a small farm that would teach our children valuable life skills. When we lived in Portland we took initial steps to get a lavender farm, but through unforeseen events we ended up moving to Lynden and putting our dreams on hold. For many years we waited for the right time and opportunity before we finally were able to fulfill our dreams. We still have a number of obstacles that will need to be worked through, but we have at least gotten started, although not as gracefully as we would have liked.

As we thought about what we were passionate about one thing we came back to was unique breeds of livestock and heirloom vegetables. We bought a few chickens and turkeys when we moved to Lynden 5 years ago (we still have a few of the chickens left) and learned a lot about animals and fencing. Last year, two of our children participated in 4-H and raised lambs for the fair. We learned about raising sheep and enjoyed the challenges and new opportunities to learn.

Farming is tough work and it is competitive. There are a lot of small and large farms competing for customers and we had to find a way to stand out and try to provide a unique product. I have always done things a bit differently from the crowd (not many people would run for county council after only leaving in a community for a year)and focusing on rare breed livestock that only a few people (or in some cases no one) has in the area seemed like a good way to stand out from the crowd. This also provides us an opportunity to educate people and make a difference. Hopefully the things we grow and raise will be less rare in coming years, but in the meantime it has been educating, challenging and fun all at the same time.

Our other passion is for local food and having some measure of self-reliance. We wanted to raise food that we will eat and enjoy and hopefully have enough left over for others to enjoy along with us. I have my own concerns about the food supply and commercial production of food. I will skip the long editorial, but suffice it to say I do not want to be overly reliant on farmers in other parts of the country or world for a critical item like food. I am a strong advocate for local businesses and especially local food. I would just as soon not participate in corporate agriculture, where feasible, as I have ethical and economic concerns about their business model. My test for the farm is that if commercial agriculture is doing it then I do not want to, and if commercial agriculture is not doing it then it is worth investigating further.

In the end, it become obvious that heirloom vegetables and rare breed animals were something that we could get passionate about for a number of reasons. We are sharing our story as we learn and hopefully encourage others to think outside of the food box. We are not farmers in the traditional sense and we certainly have less knowledge about farming then other people, but we are also not tied down to certain ways of doing things and are willing to try something new. Welcome to Heritage Lane Farm, and welcome to what food was meant to be.

No comments: