Over the years, White Crow Farm has evolved to become a community of people living and co-farming a diverse operation on its 160 acres, bringing their different skills and knowledge to the fields. Damon Chouinard has lived there for 7 years, seeing many stages of the farm. He loves the combination of living and farming in community. “We believe that farming isn’t necessarily the easiest of endeavours, especially when you’re trying to operate a multi-enterprise, multi-species farm,” he pointed out. “Farming with others has the potential to be more sustainable and productive, and someone having your back is worth a hundred head of lettuce”
They have a 2 acre market garden that holds numerous types of fruit and vegetables for their market and CSA customers. They try to grow a diverse range of produce while incorporating both heirloom open pollinated and hybrid varieties into their program. The farm also has free-range chickens and ducks for eggs and pasture reared poultry. They rear other livestock for their own consumption and for the management of the pastures. “We try to market a diverse range of food to our customers, and we aim to have a colourful table when we show up at market with lots of things to stimulate people’s interest,” Damon told me. They grow naturally, adhering closely with organic principles, and are moving towards a permaculture type closed-loop system, trying to produce as much of the farms needs on site whilst retaining the diversity of their operation. “The concept of ecological farming in essence is what we try to achieve. Farming needs to become more sensitive to the ecosystems it creates and exists within,” Damon continued.
When asked why he farms, Damon answered; “It satisfies me on almost every level. The philosophy and ethics, there’s physical labour and enduring challenges. It stimulates my intuition, exercises my patience and physically challenges me. I don’t think there are many jobs that could satisfy me so much. I also really value growing my own food and raising my family on the farm too.” And the most rewarding thing? “Being outside every day, producing good products, and building that relationship with customers.”
Producing food for the local community is central to the farm’s vision. “It’s good to know where your food comes from. Even if you visit that farm once a year with your kids, at least your kids once a year saw food growing in the ground, and that’s going to change their whole relationship to food on a subtle level.” He also feels strongly about building that relationship between farmer and consumer. “Re-examining our entire food system is a good thing. Just because something has a label that says organic, it doesn’t mean it’s the most nutritious food you can buy. You’ve got to know your farmers and their practices, and you’ve got to learn about their ethics and what they care about and who these people are.” Creativity is also an important part of the farm, the collective host several popular community events during the year, aiming to bridge the gap between music, art and farming, and engage people in life on the farm. “We enjoy re-examining the urban/rural divide and engaging the cultural aspect of agriculture and permaculture.”
When asked what message he would give to eaters, he paused for a moment. “Eat more whole foods, learn how to cook a local and seasonal diet again, and try and support local farmers to grow more varieties of different cultivars.”