Welcome to Zocalo Organics!

We have a Facebook page and a farm name!  Keep in touch!  

 

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An Update and Invitation to Our Potlucks!

A month and a half ago I wrote to let you know we were trying to purchase a piece of property and that we needed your financial help to pay our $275,000 downpayment.

I just wanted to let everyone know that on June 23 we will be purchasing 5881 Third Line, Erin to begin building our dream of a community organic farm. And that every Sunday for the summer starting on June 29th we will be having Family-Friendly Community Potlucks at 5pm at the farm, with “Crop Mobs” starting at 3 pm where you can come and help for 2 hours before the Potluck begins! Potlucks will happen Rain or Shine and you are invited to attend whether or not you help us in the field.

The first potluck will include a farm tour and a birthday cake for Seb! We hope to eventually set up a page on our website to help organize carpooling and mass bike riding to the potlucks! Let us know if getting a ride is an issue for you.

If you are interested in contributing financially to the farm please do so in the next couple weeks. Also if you sent us a cheque in the mail it will be deposited in the next two weeks, sorry for the delay. Please let us know if you do not see it leave your account by June 20! AND if you have any farm name suggestions please send them to us immediately! 🙂

We have raised $30,000 and would like to raise $75,000-$100,000. We have arranged to borrow money until we reach our fundraising goal, so it will be an ongoing fundraiser even after June 23. If our goal is not met by June 23 we will launch a Kickstarter campaign (we have not done so yet because of the fact that they take a healthy cut of the money donated on their website.)

Finally, you can read a story I wrote about the evolution of our Farm Dream that will be published in the Pathways outdoor Education magazine this coming winter. The story is posted on my blog at this link: bethanyklapwyk.wordpress.com

And if you still want to make a donation or made a pledge and have not sent the money you can either send an email money transfer to bethanyklapwyk@gmail.com
Or write a cheque made out to Sebastian Ramirez
sent to:
Beth and Seb
44 Caledonia St.
Guelph
N1G2C9

Please notify us by email if we should expect something in the mail!

Rubber Boots and New Roots,

Seb and Beth

ps.
These are pictures from the potluck that was organized by John and Jill, the current farm owners. They invited and introduced us to their friends and neighbours. Seb and I invited a few friends and our families to see the farm. It was an overwhelmingly lovely day! We can’t wait to invite all of you to see and play on the Farm!

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Seed to Sprout: A story about our journey “Home”

In 2005 I enrolled in an alternative environmental education program for grade 10 students in the Upper Grand District School Board. The program was called, “CELP”, the Community Environmental Leadership Program. Two years later I participated in the sister program, Headwaters, an interdisciplinary exploration for grade 12 students that brings in various themes: climate change, gardening, leadership, alternative energy, teachings from First Nations, Canadian literature, and more.

For me the most meaningful aspect to the programs was the integration of Joseph Cambell’s “The Hero’s Journey” philosophy. The Headwaters program integrates this by encouraging students through a metaphorical and physical process of self-discovery. The last 2 of 12 stages in the process call students to find their “source”, the things they are passionate about, and then journey “home” with the lessons that have been learned throughout the entire journey.

This is enacted physically with the students hiking to the source of their local watershed (Blue Springs Creek), then canoeing on the river that flows out of the spring to Guelph, where most of the students live.

My life, and the lives of hundreds of students who participated in these programs, was greatly transformed by this elegant and meaningful teaching around caring for the planet, and caring for each other in community.

In November 2009 cancer took the life of Mike Elrick, the founder of these two programs, and my greatest teacher. His passing shook the Guelph community deeply, and former students around the world mourned his loss.

The fall of Mike’s passing was when I met my life-partner, Sebastian Ramirez – a former “Headwaters” student who took the program in a different year.

Since 2009 Seb and I have been on what we call our “journey home”; we have been on a deep exploration of farming and land-stewardship that has led us to running our own organic farm business (in the place we grew up) for the last 2 years on borrowed land.

As a result of great serendipity, our persistence, and great privilege we will become farm owners this June. We will be taking over an 83 acre, certified organic farm and business 30km from Guelph. In addition to growing great food, our farm will be a place where our community will gather to care for one another and the natural world.

In Canada farming communities are getting older and challenges relating to economics, climate change, and knowledge transference prevent young farmers from starting up. However, there is a growing movement of people who, because of their passion for protecting the earth, use sustainable agriculture as a way of stewarding land.  Their stories are bringing something new to Canada’s rural voice, and connecting the city communities from which they migrated to rural communities.

To this day Seb and I name Mike Elrick as the first spark behind our farm dream. Without his passionate introduction to the magic of the land on which we live, we may never have had the drive to face the many barriers that farmers face, and feed our community in a way that brings nourishment to both people and land.
Thanks for reading,
Bethany Klapwyk

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Mike teaching on winter camp

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minga: a moment when the entire community comes together for a common cause… Photo taken at the walk-bike-canoe for Mike in 2009

It’s Official, we are buying a FARM!

Our loan proposal has been approved, we are buying a farm! We are ready to accept your monetary gifts to help pay the $275,000 down payment on our future organic-community farm!

We are aiming to raise $75000-$100000; so far we’ve raised 25,000!

You can either send us email money transfers to bethanyklapwyk@gmail.com or send cheques made out to Sebastian Ramirez Farm Fund:

Sebastian Ramirez Farm Fund
44 Caledonia St.
Guelph,
N1G 2C9

Your money will be held in a special account that we have opened up to keep separate the funds we’ve raised, and will be used on June 20, 2014 to put towards the down payment of the farm.

Thanks everyone who pledged so far and to those who support us!

Read our full letter detailing perks here:

https://bethanyklapwyk.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/beth-and-sebs-farm-fund/

HURRY HURRY WE NEED YOUR MONEY!

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Beth and Seb’s Farm Fund April 15 Update!

We have put in our offer on the farm, and this week if our loan is approved (cross your fingers and toes everyone!) we will be ready to accept your monetary gifts for our future organic-community farm! We will let you know as soon as that happens!

Your money will be held in a special account that we’ve opened up under Seb’s banking profile to keep separate the funds we’ve raised, and will be used on June 19 to pay a portion of the down payment of the farm.

Thanks everyone who pledged so far and to those who support us! Pass around this video and let others know what we are doing!

Thanks
Seb, Beth, Lou the coon hound, and friends!

Beth and Seb’s Farm Fund

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April 3, 2014 “Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. “ – Wendell Berry

Hello Friends, Family, Past Clients, and Community Members,

This is an absolutely BIG and EXCITING request, but perhaps it will find you at the right moment in time! Seb and I have found the most beautiful farm where we want to spend the rest of our days growing great food and great community! The farm is 30 minutes drive from Guelph. Already it’s been Certified Organic, has greenhouses, orchards, a good barn, and cold storage. It comes with all the equipment, and the current farmer is willing to come out one day a week to mentor us on how to run his organic salad greens’ and produce business. It is perfect for us, and it is an absolutely gorgeous 83 acre piece of land.

We went last week for the first time and fell instantly in love with the land and the legacy that is being left by the previous owners.

We deeply feel it would be a tragedy to see this farm be developed, to see the infrastructure unused, or to see the land farmed non-organically. Somehow we have to quickly figure out if we can bring the money together to afford it before we lose the opportunity.

We are writing to see if you would consider giving Seb and I one of the following. (And in the letter below we have listed what we can offer YOU for each level of donation):

  • the gift of a note of encouragement or a donation of 0-$99 dollars
  • Or a gift of $100, $500, $1000, $5000, $10,000, or $20,000+

The farm costs $799,000 dollars and it has been farmed organically for 25 years. Compared to what else is on the market, this is a great price. We will be setting up a viable and efficient farm business, and will both work off-farm jobs when we can, but unfortunately land costs are so high in Southern Ontario that we need outside help from friends and family to help us cover at least one third of the cost.

Where your money will go: 100% will go to paying a part of the cost of buying the farm. The farm will be a place that grows amazing certified organic foods, that hosts school groups and retreats, that works for social and ecological justice, that invites the community with open arms… a place where we raise our children (and yours too) to love the earth, a place where many will get lost in the outdoors, splashing in the creek, eating dirty carrots, and laughing at mud-covered pigs!

We will endeavour to carry-on the legacy of land-stewardship that the previous owners were committed to and bring the farm even closer to its full potential and productivity.

What we can offer for our appreciation:

1. If you have anything between $0-99 to donate, this will encourage us greatly on this journey. Please send us an email “high-five” to bethanyklapwyk@gmail.com or a snail mail letter of encouragement to 44 Caledonia St. Guelph. N1G2C9. We will then add you to our farm contact list and also keep you informed of any deals, discounts, and trades that we are able to offer!

2. If you donate $100-$499 we will give you a voucher for 10% of your donation (up to $50) to spend on our produce. We will also do what is written in #1.

3. If you donate $500-$999 you can host a party or event for up to 30 people on the farm, and we will give you a 1-2 hour private farm tour. We also do what is written in #1 and give you a $50 voucher. (A limited number available)

4. If you donate $1000 we will offer you a 1-2 hour private farm tour and a five-year membership to our on-farm Family Campground (opening spring 2015) complete with outdoor showers, compost toilets, picnic tables, and the occasional surprise of me (Bethany) serenading you around the campfire with my guitar and homemade songs. You will be able to bring your family and friends to camp out whenever you like. If all goes well with the campground we will renew your membership for life! You will also get 2 invitations to our Farm Donor Appreciation Dinner featuring local and organic foods from the farm and area and a $50 voucher.  (A limited number available)

a Yome in a sheep pasture

a Yome in a sheep pasture

5. If you donate $5000 we will give you all that is listed in #4, as well as 3 days of Yome rental per year for 5 years. The Yome (pictured above) is our beautiful off-Grid & winterized yurt-like structure, complete with oil-lamps, folding tables and chairs, a woodstove, a simple kitchen, a double bed in a loft, and more! You will also be able to access the campgrounds’ outdoor shower, compost toilet, picnic tables, fire-pit, and more! You could have a romantic getaway, a business meeting in the woods, a dinner party by oil-lamp, a family camp-out, a yoga class, a kids birthday party… Anything you like!  (A limited number available.)

6. If you donate $10, 000 we will give you all that is listed in #4 and 5, as well as 12 days of Yome rental per year for 5 years (beginning in 2015) and a 10% Farm Discount card for Life! (A limited number available)

8. If you are able to donate more than $10,000 we will offer you all the perks of #7 and furthering that we would like to talk to you on the phone or in person about what else we can offer you ( trees planted in your honour, a special credit on our website, a song or poem written for you, a series of school educational tours, a custom raised pig, a farm-hosted music festival… The list goes on!) We want you to feel our sincere appreciation for your help! All those who support us on any level will have their name embroidered into a banner that we will hang in our family room to remind us every day of YOU and how great our community of support is!

How can we trust you with our money?

For the last few years our lives have been dedicated to farming, and crafting a farm dream. We met 4 years ago, and quickly realized our shared passion for organic farming and spending time outdoors. Shortly after we went to Fleming college to study Sustainable Agriculture.  Following that we took a course in “Holistic Decision Management” for Farmers. We have completed internships at Ignatius Farm, The Stop Community Food Centre, and Green Being Farm. For two years we have run a farm business of our own, servicing up to 50 community members with weekly produce boxes and occasional meat deliveries. We also have a large number of farmer mentors on our side to help us succeed. We believe farms are highly important in bringing together rural and city communities to care for the earth.

Our CSA member Donna from last season said,

“I want you both to know how struck I am by the quality of your produce. It is simply the best looking produce I have ever encountered from a CSA. I have belonged to several over the years and have purchased organic produce directly from various farmers and retailers; yours stands head and shoulders above the rest…… it simply radiates with life and beauty. I’m thrilled!” Farming is what we can and would love to offer our Guelph and surrounding community!

Our market stand in 2013

Our market stand in 2013

Whose land is it anyways? We work and will work towards paying our respects on a daily basis to the traditional custodians of the land, the indigenous communities who had this land stolen from them. Though we will never be able to right the wrongs that have been done, we can endeavour to heal, learn, acknowledge, stay open, and grow through the work we do on this land, and with First Nations individuals and communities.

Thank you for considering helping us purchase this land, and we look forward to hearing from you! Beth and Seb Ps.

How do we get you the money?

  • Not so fast!  We can’t yet accept your money, but what we need is an email or letter or phone call in which you commit to funding us a certain amount.  Please don’t make any promises you can’t keep! For those who are in the family/close friends, consider this our early wedding present, and the last time we ask you for money (in a big way:)).  We are working on an asap timeline here, but take your time to talk to your family and consider passing on this message.  We will be forever grateful!

Check out some pictures from our Farming Journey in the slide-show at the top, or browse this blog to find some stories from our farming journey.

Biking Legs!

Our bikes, ocean to one side, mountains and valleys  on the other

Our bikes, ocean to one side, mountains and valleys

It’s cardboard carrot time of year- that time when good vegetables are hard to find, and summer vegetables are still a few months away. By now a few you may be wondering what your farmers have been up to during the winter
Before I make a few of you envious of some of the excellent adventures Seb and I have been on lately, let me begin with saying that Seb and I were very exhausted and even a bit disheartened at the end of our season in December.  While many parts of the season were successful, it was certainly a season of profound learning.

We knew we needed a change of pace, a little re-inspiration, and something fun.  After Christmas and packing up at the farm we decided to take a 6 week bike and backpacking trip in Cuba to practice our Spanish (we are both fluent), to re-connect, to explore, and to do something entirely different.  We left  early in the morning of Jan 1st and arrived at noon in a beautiful sunny airport where we assembled our bikes and started our adventure. Our adventure took us all over the country; we visited many tiny urban farms, rock-climbed, snorkelled, made great friends, biked through beautiful mountains, ate lots of fruit, and much more! It was an incredible privilege and rejuvenating experience.

2 days after we returned home from our trip we went winter camping with a class of grade 10 students in Algonquin park.  Wow, was there ever a lot of snow!  Seb and I have been leaders for a few years on the amazing trips that are part of the CELP and Headwaters programs (http://www.ugdsb.on.ca/celp/).  These trips took us to the end of February.

We are incredibly grateful for the renewed energy we have, and now have a better idea of what this year holds for us.

We will not be running a CSA this summer, however we are fully committed to continue farming, and will use this year to gear up for re-opening our farm business in 2015.  In the meantime we will be continuing to make the most our year off by taking a bike Trip from Vancouver to San Diego in May and June (hopefully stopping at some awesome farms on route) followed by full time working and land- hunting in Guelph.  Seb may even take a fall class at Conestoga College to gain a few more skills for life /farm.

In our search for land, we will be seeking out something that specifically meets our current needs and will be able to accommodate a few types of growth.  We know a few of you may be able to connect us to leads for potential farms or helpful people.  We may not follow up on every lead offered us but please do keep your eyes and ears open for things that fit this criteria:

Our ideal:
-Owning a piece of land at least 10 acres in size (10-100)
Or a long-term (lifetime?) lease on a piece of land
-Within a half hour drive from Guelph
-With a place for us and potential intern helpers/friends to live
Or empty land that a house can be built on
-Good farmland where we can raise a small-scale livestock and small-scale crops
-outbuildings (such as barns or sheds) are helpful as are water sources (ponds, rivers, springs, creeks)
-Independence, ability to run own business on the farm, is key

We intend to explore several options and choose one that suits us best.  At that point we will gear up for growing next season.

Thanks!