Looking for a farm around Guelph feels a bit like when Seb and I were looking for a place to set up our tent in Lindsay over a year ago. Get out the google map, check out the green looking spots, go there and look around, etc.
Only this time we won’t be there for 4 months- and this time the rent won’t be free, rather, the complete opposite… And this time we have a lot more ground to cover.
While out and about looking at some greenhouse hoops with our friend Andrew we spontaneously decide to visit 3 farms.
Farm #1 is gorgeous rolling hills along the road between Kitchener and Guelph. “In the 9 digits” says the tenant house dweller- a jolly guy with a long red beard.
Farm # 2 is right outside the Guelph city limits, we notice the for sale sign and turn around. We are directed into a warehouse to talk to the landowner and his brother.
“Farming!” he exclaims “that’s the worst business you could get into!”
“How much are you asking for the property?” we peep
“2 million” he says
Our friend Andrew: “Could we have it for 10, 000?”
“Have what?” He looks a bit taken aback.
“the whole thing!” replies Andrew
They laugh uneasily. We do too. 2 million dollars for a farm outside Guelph is not a price tag for a farmer, but for a developer waiting for the city limits to extend. Too dang bad- because having a farm that close to Guelph could mean a lot of really cool things such as bike powered marketing, accessible education programs, involving young Guelph farmers, housing eco-minded university students, hosting rockin community events, and more. Too dang bad.
Why do I feel like I’ve heard this story before? When I lived in Honduras I remember working with peasant farmers on slopes where you had to hold on to grasses and palms to keep from falling down the mountain. A pretty crappy place to grow corn and beans if you ask me. The Standard Fruit Company, now Dole, owns all the flat, fertile, farm-able lands nearby- and the small farmers have lost their voice and the best land. I don’t have much of a voice either when we’re talking 2 million dollars, more than I’d ever make in a humble life of organic farming. Luckily rural Ontario isn’t as un-farmable as those mountains, but it still doesn’t seem fair.
Farm#2 owner tells us to check out another 99 acre farm. We aren’t sure if we are headed in the right direction but we stumble upon an abandoned farmhouse nestled in a deep valley. As we drive up to it we notice its windows broken and walls sprayed with graffiti. It is a gorgeous stone house, and despite the no trespassing signs, we let ourselves in to look around. There are at least 8 bedrooms and a giant kitchen! Someone is farming the back field of the farm, and front of the farm is fallow.
We’re not sure who it belongs to, do you know? If you know this farm, or any farms outside of Guelph that aren’t selling for 2 million, we’d really like to know.
Or if you could direct us towards some benevolant rich folks with 2 million bucks wanting to invest in something that matters- tell them their 2 million would get them all the organic fruits, veg, meat they could ever desire, and the best city-periphery community-farm this Guelph has ever seen.
Seriously, though- we’re not keen on being pushed out of the one place we hope to contribute to in our short lives. Any help we can get is greatly appreciated.