Documentary Premier Screening!

One of the things that we don’t do nearly enough of on the farm is celebrate. So, it is with lots of joy and excitement that I invite you all to join us for the premier of the

Meeting Place Organic Farm Documentary

Saturday, April 2nd
2pm
Huron County Museum, Goderich, ON

A Collaborative Community Film

The politics of food, land use and resource management are the most pressing issues the world faces today, and it’s all happening right in our back yards.

In 1973 Fran and Tony McQuail bought a rundown farm near Lucknow, Ontario, a region dominated by monocropping and industrial agriculture . Over the last four decades, these environmental warriors have built a sustainable and ecologically sound farm that stands as a model for others.

Using Holistic Management techniques and permaculture design principles, Meeting Place Organic Farm has evolved into a diversified operation with grass fed beef, pastured pork and chicken, a large vegetable garden, an apple orchard and a 25 acre wood lot.  What the McQuails have built over the past forty years at Meeting Place Organic Farm is unique and inspiring and has the potential to spark real change in the way that we view our relationship with food and the ecosystem. The collaborative nature of this evolution will be reflected by the inclusion of many voices including the extended McQuail family, current and former apprentices and others in the broader farming, social and political communities.

Meeting Place Organic Film is a collaborative community film that is collecting and telling the stories that are important to the communities the McQuail’s belong to and further the conversation about how we produce and consume food. Director Rebecca Garrett and Producer Britt Gregg-Wallace have known Fran and Tony for many years and have always been impressed by their commitment to organic farming, ecology and social justice.  Their actions – from running for political office, to training young organic farmers, to limiting their use of non-renewable resources  – are deeply integrated with their values and intersect with their everyday lives.  From the very beginning, the McQuail family has actively participated in the process of making the film. They bring the same approach to the film as they do to the farm, working tirelessly and cheerfully to find thoughtful solutions to immediate problems with an eye on what is best for the planet and future generations. Their broader communities of rural residents and sustainable food enthusiasts have been involved in the funding of the project and, most importantly, in sharing their thoughts on what matters to them.

Not only does this film explore the very real ways one farm has contributed to the long term ecological viability of agriculture in Ontario, it is also a call to action for all those who believe there is a better way to take care of our planet and feed the world.

Piglets!!!

IMG_6328I’m at that age where everyone is having babies. My facebook news feed is full of my favourite people, photos of their ultrasounds, newborn pictures and then photos of their wee one(s) as they grow. Someday I may join them in the realm of human babies.

But in 2015, I became the proud “parent”, “father” even, of 18 piglets. Some of you may be confused by this. But, having been the primary provider of artificial insemination (AI), I feel that I can claim being directly responsible for both Sneeze and Hiccup’s litters of piglets. Bryan gets credit as well.

I came back to the farm full time, permanently, starting January 1, 2015. Pigs have always been one of my favourite farm animals, and I decided that if I was taking over the farm business from my renowned parents, I needed to make part of it – me. So, we purchased 2 certified, organic Berkshire/Duroc gilts from friends and I started my steep learning curve about everything pig.

We’ve raised pigs for years from chunks. Pasturing them, feeding them, providing them with an incredible life, before finishing them. But… We’d NEVER bred, farrowed and raised piglets up from birth. So, why not now?

IMG_6201 Lets just say that there is a lot, A LOT, of information out there about how old, and what weight you should first breed your gilts at. Then there is even more information about detecting their heats, how to get them to show their heat and the fine art of breeding. You tube and google definitely provided an ample amount of opportunities for me to have questionable search histories.

With the help of a local pastured pork guru – Jeff, the wisdom of my seamen delivery person – Louis, and the humour and support of my neighbour – Jake and support of my parents and other MPOF folks, we managed to get both Hiccup and Sneeze pregnant. Then, when we did the math about what 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days was from the various times they could have gotten pregnant, I realized that the majority of them were while I was away as a voluntary crew member on eXXpedition Amazon.

In December 2015,  between them, Sneeze and Hiccup gave birth to 18 wonderful, healthy piglets that we are currently raising up for our delicious early summer pork. They can’t wait to meet you at the May open farm days!IMG_6327

Farm Transitions

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We’ve known it was coming, but it is still a bit unreal to think that Tony and Fran are officially stepping a bit further back from running Meeting Place Organic Farm. As of January 1st, 2016 they have sold the farm business to (me) Katrina. They are still integral, important parts of the operation, but they are working on making this farm business succession a success!

There is lots for us to figure out in terms of what it means in the day to day, the logistical, the practical and the family dynamics side of things. But, there we have it.

Don’t worry. For you – our friends and customers, nothing in terms of the farm business is going to change (for the worse). We’re still going to be raising and loving our animals who have one bad-day to become the delicious meats that you’re used to getting from us. We will still have the apple orchard and our apple butter, and so-on and so-forth.

Think of this as us breathing a little energy into the operations and having more flexibility amongst those who can manage the farm to be able to continue to invest in our local community, and in ourselves and our family in new and exciting ways!

As always, thanks for your interest in our lives and support of the farm.