ORGANIC ACREAGE AVAILABLE ON A NEGOTIABLE LEASE/SHARE ARRANGEMENT - AN
IDEAL LIFESTYLE CHANGE FOR A HARD-WORKING PERSON
A 70-year-old organic grower, Gerald Hopkins, has asked me to help him find
an energetic person or persons to co-manage, possibly lease and possibly
take over a 5-acre organic market garden.
The 100-acre farm (first tilled in the year 1870) could eventually be
converted to more than 10-15 acres market garden, plus acres of root crops,
plus several field crops, such as buckwheat and other grains, as well as
Christmas trees. The farm is near the tiny hamlet of Barkway, Ontario,
just east of the larger towns of Gravenhurst and Bracebridge in Ontario's
beautiful 'cottage country' - south Muskoka. Gerald's farm, known as
'Hopkins Berry Farm' is said to produce the sweetest strawberries in
Muskoka. It is also one of the last operating farms left in the area
because many younger farmers have abandoned agriculture outright.
This would be just another sad agricultural story were it not for Gerald's
persistence. He needs a young person with imagination to come up to
central Ontario, look over the farm, discuss terms and conditions and
possibly integrate into the cultivation and marketing for the 1996 crop
year and beyond.
Gerald has done a truly admirable volume of work on this acreage since the
purchase in the mid-1970's, including: 6 acres of in-ground pump
irrigation, availability of sufficient working tractors, cultivators,
weed-cutter mowers, 60 acres tile drained, etc. There is an established
barn which could be converted for many uses. Housing on-site is possible,
though this must be negotiated/bartered with the grower.
The bonus for anyone willing to call Gerald and contemplate going out for a
working visit is that 'developed markets already exist' for Hopkins Farm
produce. These market outlets include Gerald's weekly sales at the
Gravenhurst and Bracebridge markets, potential sales at the Huntsville and
Orillia markets, plus a potentially thriving pick-your-own market for
strawberries, raspberries and the farms's numerous vegetables. People
already drive to the pick-your-own/direct sales farm from a 30-mile radius.
For the future, there is the possible interest of Ontario organic
jam/juice processors looking for bulk processing fruits.
The vegetables grown include: parsnips, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce(s),
carrots, asparagus, beets, peas, snow-peas, radishes, etc. One major crop
ready for expansion is sweet corn.
The transitional organic farm is not certified: 1. Because, to date, the
local clientele has not demanded it; 2. There have been troublesome weed
incursions and at Gerald's age, he has been unable to deal with this.
Having stated the above, the farm is definitely certifiable, given your
time, love of the earth and commitment to organic certification. Both OCIA
and OCPP are active certifiers in Ontario. One further drawback which any
budding organic market gardener should know: south Muskoka, in May, is
'bug-net country'. The blackflies are said to be somewhat ravenous. But
hey, so what!
If you would care to sincerely consider the opportunity of keeping organic
agriculture alive in South Muskoka, feel free to call Gerald Hopkins
directly, in Barkway, Ontario, at (705) 687-0765.
Organic Farm Services
Collingwood, Ontario, CANADA
(705) 444-0923 - E-Mail: email@example.com