Manifest Your Dreams

When we purchased our property we knew that we wanted to share the land with a farmer. We had no idea how we would make that happen but we put that intention out, talked to people in the area and ultimately found The Young Agrarians and their land matching program. Our land matching facilitator for the area was amazing and over a period of a few months we met several potential farmers. For one reason or another none were the right fit. Many months went by and just as we thought that we wouldn’t find someone, along came Ryan!

From the start Steve and I had a great feeling about Ryan and his partner Aparna. We are so excited that they chose to join us here at Raven’s Perch and to share in the development of this sweet little property! It was all hands on deck starting early spring and it is only now that we can all take a breather and get this post published.

And, so, without further ado, this is Ryan!

My name is Ryan Morin and I was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. I moved across Canada to British Columbia in 2019. That was when I was 23 years old, and I had just discovered a passion for growing and getting back to the land. Before then I was stumbling along life’s path aimlessly enjoying myself for the most part.

Being a university drop out was a confusing place to be as a young adult, so naturally I just left it all behind me and went to Australia. Traveling abroad provided the space I needed to figure things out, and refine what I really wanted to do. Along the way I met my partner Aparna who agreed to come traveling around New Zealand with me. After surviving van life together for 6 months she came back to Canada with me to build a life together.

I learnt of Young Agrarians (YA) and their land matching program in 2020 at my first farming job. I scanned their “U-Map” looking at all the opportunities across Canada. I set my sights on Nelson, BC for the 2021 season, and was working with Hailey from YA to seek out suitable land matches in the area. Upon being introduced to Martha and Steve I thought they were cool and really supportive. The land has only 1 acre of arable land, but this fit the needs of the small permaculture farm I had planned. I thought this opportunity could work for me, and so I started to build a relationship with them before committing to anything. After inoculating some logs, sharing food, and getting to know each other for that year I was feeling really good about building my farm and home on their land here in Winlaw.

That winter at the start of 2022, Aparna and I purchased our Yurt. We took the leap of faith to build our home, and my farm here. We definitely bit off more than we could chew, because this year ended up being the most challenging of our life so far. We worked extremely hard, taking no days off all summer. We worked full-time, and then every weekend commuted out to Winlaw from our previous place in Blewett (35 minutes drive). We had to do this in order to build the yurt, as well I was fulfilling the overzealous goal of growing a ¼ garden plot. The garden was a great success and was definitely worth the extra effort. I got a great yield, and provided food for our family, Martha and Steve, and many people in the community. Emerald Grove’s first season was a great success!

Now when I write this, the snow is on the ground, and my life is changing with the season. Things are slowing down, and I am taking time to regenerate. This winter I will plan for the future of the farm, and be ready next spring to do it all again, but bigger. Looking ahead my plans for Emerald Grove are to first build up the market garden. I would like to have the best ½ acre of land converted into beds for growing organic vegetables to be sold. The other ½ acre of land I will convert into a food forest that surrounds the market gardens peripherals. This will be accomplished over time by sheet mulching, and then planting different perennials trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers, and self seeding annuals as well. Eventually my hope is that the whole area of the farm is a contiguous growing space chock full of captivating diversity, and abundance. This will ultimately be an expression of my growing philosophy, which seeks to balance the ideals of permaculture with the practicality of market farming.

Some of the challenges present on the land are limited space, and limited light. I named the farm Emerald Grove, because we are located on the edge of a forest. It is not a typical agricultural site. The main field has good sun exposure, because we cut down a stand of tall cedar trees, but lots of areas get less than 8 hours of sun. The soils range from a deep fertile sandy loam to rocky gravel. Another challenge is water conservation, because of the continuously dry conditions that occur here in the summer. Building up mulch layers in the food forest will be critical to minimize irrigation needs. As well it will be necessary to store water during wet seasons of the year, and use these reserves in the summer. This will prevent over using the water available in the ground, and pumping the well dry. The ideal water system would include a solar water pump that moves water to a large cistern that is uphill of the garden. This would allow us to use gravity fed irrigation, and increase available pressure.

Next spring will mark the first year of farming on my own, and as my sole source of income. It is very exciting, and also a little frightening. Financial challenges are the greatest limiting factor at the moment. I still require a cold storage, wash and pack station, and a delivery vehicle to operate commercially next year. That will be the first order of business when the snow melts. For now it is back to the drawing board to design, crop plan, order seeds, and get educated. I am grateful for all the blessings I had in 2022. I conclude this chapter by the wood stove feeling cozy for the winter.