PEI

Farmers growing food for long-term care home in Charlottetown

Two part-time farmers in Charlottetown are growing food for a long-term care home in the city.

'Last year we donated, I think, almost 1,000 pounds'

Daniel Stewart, one half of The Burly Farmer, stores things such as this spinach in his greenhouse in Charlottetown. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Two part-time farmers in Charlottetown are growing food for a long-term care home in the city.

The Burly Farmer has two small plots of land by The Mount Continuing Care Community. In exchange for use of that land, the farmers are offering half of what they grow for the home to cook meals for residents.

"We donate what The Mount uses the most — beets, carrots, radishes," said Tom Lund, one half of The Burly Farmer duo. "So that's the primary goal. Anything to keep their labour costs down.

"If we don't give them produce that's more or less ready to go, ready to use for them, then it's not much of an advantage."

Lund said he's heard some residents are hoping for some butternut squash this season.

The Burly Farmer started cultivating this small plot of land off Mount Edward Road last year. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Daniel Stewart, the other half of The Burly Farmer, and Lund started with a 20-by-20-metre plot of land on the property close to Mount Edward Road last year. They say they were able to produce quite a bit of food for residents at The Mount.

"Last year we donated, I think, almost 1,000 pounds," Stewart said.

Produce from the farm also presents a learning opportunity for residents who might want to help prepare food when it gets to the kitchen, says Lindsay Dickieson, administrator of The Mount Continuing Care Community. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Lindsay Dickieson, the administrator of the community, said the deal with The Burly Farmer adds to sustainable practices already in place.

"We want to reduce our environmental footprint as much as possible," she said.

There is an apple orchard and rhubarb patch already on site.

Dickieson said produce from the farm also presents a learning opportunity for residents who might want to help prepare food when it gets to the kitchen.

Daniel Stewart is part of The Burly Farmer duo. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Another plot on The Mount's property is being established this year — adding another 15.5-by-15.5 metre plot to cultivate.

Farming on small plots is what it's all about for the Burly Farmer.

The duo specializes in high-density urban-farming. That means small spaces are used.

Stewart has some potatoes growing in a trash can at this home in Charlottetown. It also means plants are started in small containers inside greenhouses before they are put into the ground.

"There's so many backyards, open areas that are just mowed, right," Stewart said. "These are the things that we can show can be changed. You can grow off of anything and with no knowledge. You don't need to have a background."

Tom Lund was doing some weed torching Saturday morning, using a flame to burn the tops of weeds getting in the way of crops. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Both Lund and Stewart didn't have farming backgrounds.

Lund works in the trades and Stewart has a background in sales of oceanographic equipment. But after Stewart grew 10 tomato plants about three metres high, and Lund started reading about urban farming, they decided to try it out.

"It just kind of infested in my head and if we weren't going to grow something I was going to start ruining my landlord's yard," Lund said.

"If everything was to move forward and we were able to secure solid sales in future endeavours, ideally I would do this for a living."

Stewart and Lund are partnering with the city of Charlottetown to give kids an introduction to urban farming on June 5.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tony Davis grew up on P.E.I. and studied journalism at Holland College. He can be contacted at anthony.davis@cbc.ca

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