We are a six hectare (15 acre) family farm focused on seed and herb production. Located in central Alberta, near Barrhead (120 km northwest of Edmonton), we specialize in food crops that do well in our short northern growing season. All of our seeds are open pollinated, so the seed they make can be saved, and many are classic 'Heirloom' varieties. Each year we trial new plants to evaluate their performance in our Prairie environment, adding our favourites to the seed we offer. Our 2013 trials will grow larger plots of the winners from 2012, featuring greens, grains, pseudocereals and beans - and for fun we're doing 25 tomatoes again. We currently produce most of the cultivars we sell and - at least so far - we enjoy the challenge of growing more kinds of seed every year. The remainder of our selection is sourced from our network of trusted suppliers, including some of the best traditional seed breeders in North America.
Our appreciation of the importance of seed as a common genetic resource continues to evolve, as does our skill in seed stewardship. We believe in ecological crop improvement, adapting plants to our bioregion with each carefully selected generation. We see ourselves as stewards of the land and we strive to improve its condition. We don't have all the answers, but we are looking - exploring techniques to farm in harmony with nature and learning through experience, fleshing out our vision of sustainable agriculture. We draw from a number of sustainable farming systems and, in particular, have been influenced by Permaculture, Bio-Intensive Farming, Fukuoka's Natural Farming and Deep Organic Farming principles.
We do not use any synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. We emphasize on-farm fertility, water retention, weed suppression and soil building through composting, cover crops and green manures. We are currently experimenting with alfalfa, barley, buckwheat, field peas, oats and phacelia, and are ready to add clover and fall rye back to the rotations. We brew our own herbal compost tea fertilizers, having tried dandelion, nettle and comfrey with promising results. We like shelterbelts and recently planted over five hundred saplings, mainly Siberian Larch, Hawthorn and Seabuckthorn. We collect rainwater from our metal roofs and use it to water our early starts in spring - and occasionally for the garden vegetables in drought conditions. Otherwise we do not irrigate, but watch the weather closely and time our plantings to precede the rains.
We think that small batches are beautiful. We enjoy being involved in all parts of the production process: planting, harvesting, cleaning and packaging are all done by our hands. The fruits of our labour are available through our own Harmonic Herbs line of fine garden seeds, sold here online and in select retail stores across Alberta. In addition, we will be attending three Seedy Saturdays and Sundays this spring (see right sidebar for details). Our teas, grown here on the farm or ethically wildcrafted from the Boreal forest, are available in limited supply from The Light Cellar in Calgary. Live Rhodiola plants, as transplantable plugs and mature root, are available in season - please contact us for more info. All photos on the website were taken by us on the farm or in our trials garden in Calgary. We encourage feedback from our customers - feel free to send us a note to let us know what you thought of our products.
HERB OF THE YEAR 2013: Holy Basil
We are pleased to announce that Ocimum sanctum, also known as Holy Basil or Tulsi, has been chosen as our featured herb this year. We had a great Holy Basil crop last year, both for tea and for seed. We're getting better at direct seeding, having had success with both the broadcasting and raking method, as well as with sowing in 5 mm (3/16 in) furrows, which are then covered with soil and tamped to wait for rain. Rows spaced 30 cm (12 in) apart would be ideal, so we will go with the shallow furrows next year to maintain order and make weeding easier between the defined rows.
NEWS & UPDATES
Marda Loop Justice Film Festival
River Park Church, 3818 14A St. SW, Calgary.
On Tuesday May 14 find us at the free showing of "Bitter Seeds," which looks at the GMO cotton situation in India.
Alberta Herb Gathering
July 26 - 28, 2013
Latest Photo Gallery - 2012 Review
We'd like to share a few stories from our 2012 season, the year we trialed 16 varieties of quinoa. Five kinds didn't germinate well, but nine of them finished seed in September.