By Tom Read
The acreage surrounding where we live, which Texadans have called “Slow Farm” for decades, has seen farmers come and go for about a century. We are slowly, pun intended, joining that farming history by resurrecting the old fields here one by one. Our latest endeavor parallels the High Road; we call it “The Long Field.”
By mainland standards this field would be considered so small and irregular as to hardly qualify for serious agriculture. Allowing for proper clearances from the road and a nearby creek, it’s only about 500 feet long by 30 to 60 feet wide. But it’s all good bottom land — quite rare on Texada Island — and it has a history of growing food. Decayed but still standing cedar fence posts and half-buried strands of wire fencing remind us of our farming predecessors.
During the past several decades, a wall of roadside trees grew up next to the field, casting deep shadows upon it. Reluctantly, we had to remove those trees to bring back the sun. This work was quickly accomplished a few weeks ago by our friends Stump, Warren and Brian at RAW Select Logging. Now comes the hard part: hand labour to pick out odd bits of left-over branches and the occasional rock, plus fencing the whole field to keep out the deer.
We do not plan to rototill this field. In keeping with our desire to minimize fossil fuel use, we will instead hand-sow a cover crop of buckwheat, to be followed next summer by rotational grazing of pigs and chickens. Our choice of buckwheat was inspired by several attributes: Our neighbours to the south on High Road, Brian and Leslie, are using this crop to improve the tilth on their bottom land this year, so we expect it to thrive on our place, too. We also realized that buckwheat makes great honey and can be planted even in mid-summer for a fall flowering, so it will help feed our bees as they’re getting stocked up for winter. And fresh buckwheat pancakes come well recommended, too.
So much for Part 1 of our Long Field story. Sometime in the future I’ll report back on how we’re doing with this project, as our Slow Farm adventure continues.