2022/23 Farming Project
“Passing on farming experience to younger community members”
This project was funded by New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP). The seniors chose to have a farming project that would involve all community members but would benefit the elders more as they would have an outdoor activity as well as an opportunity to interact with other community members as well as pass on some of their farming experience to younger community members. The project meets the following two program objectives;
- promoting volunteerism among seniors and other generations
- engaging seniors in the community through the mentoring of others
The project also meets the national priority area of supporting healthy aging. The elders chose the crops and vegetables to be grown and led the project.
On 13th of May the ground was too wet for plowing. This caused a late start to the season.
We were excited to secure land for the project in Delta at Paprika Farm. There were more rains than usual that spring and the ground was still flooded. The season, therefore, started late. It was not until June 26th that the land was finally prepared and ready for planting.
In preparation, we pre-planted some vegetable seeds in trough planters and pots. We bought tools and manure to use.
Twenty community members came on 27th June. One group planted the corn by hand and the other planted the vegetables. In planting the corn, one person dug the hole with a hand hoe, the other threw in manure whilst the third dropped in the seeds and covered the seeds with soil. Most of the volunteers were familiar with farming and they used their experience well. Unfortunately, we ran out of seed and had to stop before the portion allocated for corn was complete. Volunteers loved it and were determined to make the project a success. The elders, who are more experienced in farming, led in both areas of planting. It was encouraging to see elders in their 70s and 80s as well as those younger elders participating. It was a pleasant day out, 26 degrees Celsius. We felt it was the beginning of something good for the community. Most community members have a farming background, and the community enjoys eating the fresh food that they produce. Cultural food is expensive and difficult to get all the time. Growing our own is a logical alternative, and it was exciting with the funding received.
Four elders started the planting on 26th June. Here we see Baba Sithole dropping the corn seeds and covering them.
WEEDING & TENDING
The corn is not visible but weeds are all over. We had stayed away from using chemicals to fight the weeds but we did not anticipate how much work it would be. Volunteers were not coming out in large numbers but the core of us, less than 10 came out regularly. With those who would have time to occasionally come to the farm, we persevered.
The youth came to our aid when the going got tough. This weeding plough needed muscle and we were glad to have young ones provide that. Well done boys.
Four elders fighting weeds. One from Richmond, one from Coquitlam, and two from Surrey. Different people showed up day after day. Well done.
When the weeds became too much to remove by hand, we hired a plow for three days. At this stage of the crop, it worked.
Winning the war on weeds was so satisfying and the crop liked it more than us. We continued watering using the hose pipes and it worked well.
One can visibly see the difference between crop 1 on the left and crop 2. In the top right corner. Our interest was more on crop 2 which is not sweet corn. Crop 2 was behind time and needed some help. The contrast can be seen on the following photo as well
We worked on the vegetables as well. We added more vegetable beds and more variety. Vegetables require more watering than corn and certainly require more care than corn. We were up to the task. For most of us, this was bringing back memories from back home. We loved working the land, seeing the crops grow, and expecting our own vegetables in a few weeks. The weather conditions were great, especially in the evenings when it was cooler. Most of the work was done in the afternoon and early evenings.
Satisfying. Future looks great.
“Putting in work”