Arts & Life, Columns

Spill the Beans: Is it spring yet?

When I moved to the farm after 13 years of living in the city, my grandmother suggested I start small. You know, small garden, only a few chickens, don’t bite off more than you can chew…I didn’t really listen. Maybe I should have. But now, almost three years into my prairie farm life, I think it might be too late to heed her wise advice…

Spill the beans is a weekly column chronicling my attempts at a self-sufficient life on this small prairie farm.


What does a farmer do in the wintertime? I mean, lots of farmers work in the wintertime too, what with having animals to feed and everything. But lots of farmers also use their winters to do a bit of travelling. We, however, don’t quite have the luxury. I mean, I’ve got the flock of birds to look after (and make sure they don’t die from winter’s freezing temperatures and/or lack of water or food). And the two dogs and one cat to feed and keep warm. And of course, I have my real job, the money-making job, to go to every day. So I don’t really have much flexibility.

But besides the day job and the tiny menagerie, I’m thinking about gardening. This year, I’m starting a CSA. CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Basically, I will grow vegetables for people who have paid in advance for the service.

Seed Packages
Photo credit: Jamie Dyck

Remember the garden co-op from last summer? Well, it didn’t really go the way that I had hoped. I ended up with way more vegetables than I knew what to do with. Like, no one (two, three, four) human family(ies) can eat that much kale or spinach. Believe me. It’s just not possible. I tried. It wasn’t pretty.

But I learned a few things. I figured out pretty early that I should be the one who decides what gets picked. I mean, I’m out there, looking at it every day, checking on it’s progress, tasting, poking, prodding, watering, you get the idea. I definitely know when it’s ready. If you’re not out there every day, how do you know what anything is? How do you know what’s ready? And this was the problem.

So I got to thinking…how much more difficult or time consuming would it be for me to pick the vegetables and herbs that were ready, put them in a container and bring them to the people? And why wouldn’t I do it weekly? Plus, there’s a bit of social aspect to the delivery part of the CSA, which I definitely crave in the summer time.

And so my CSA was born. I chatted about with a few friends and family members, who immediately expressed interest. And then I sent out an email to other people who I thought would be interested and some of my friends/family sent that email along to others and suddenly, I had more than a few people who seemed very keen.

Newspaper Pots
Photo credit: Jamie Dyck

And just like that, I’m committed. This fills me with a nervous excitement and an itch to start gardening.

So now, buried in seed catalogues, Mother Earth seed-starting articles and list upon list, I dive in head first.

Wish me luck!


Jamie Dyck thinks she may have bitten off more than she can chew. But it’s too late now. Follow her on twitter, @jndyck.