For as long as I can remember, I have always loved eating fruit and fresh vegetables! I grew up on a farm in central Alberta and many of the fields were lined with Saskatoon bushes. My brothers and I would spend hours picking and eating berries – until our bellies were full and our fingers and faces were stained purple with saskatoon juice! In the farmyard we had rows of raspberries (which were probably my favourite!), rhubarb, strawberries, and nanking cherries. We had a large vegetable garden too – fresh peas and carrots were the best and I have many fond memories of pea-shelling contests with my brothers & parents – though it was hard to fill your bowl with the shelled peas when you ate them as fast as I did.
When I got married and moved out to start my own family, we were fortunate enough to ‘live out on the farm’ as my wife’s parents allowed us to pull a mobile home onto the corner of one of their quarter sections. We developed the land from a grassy pasture to a cozy little acreage yard. I planted all kinds of fruit trees and bushes as well as a good size garden. I put up a couple different greenhouses to grow tomatoes, grapes, peppers, and melons. I experimented with growing new fruits, tried new gardening methods – you can even read about all that on my old blog – (www.albertahomegardening.com).
Of course, I made a TON of mistakes and did a lot of things terribly wrong – but I sure learned a lot and my love for growing fruit only increased! After about four years of living on the farm, God led our little family in a different direction and we somewhat sadly had to leave behind our little farm.
Of course, God was good and our new home (just an hour further north) would be even more ‘fruitful’! We had a large lot in a small village, so we were able to totally re-landscape the yard and fill it all kinds of fruit – plums; cherries; chums; saskatoons; grapes; black, red, and yellow raspberries; strawberries; apples; haskap, apricots – and of course, we built a greenhouse and had a good sized garden. We were greatly blessed with incredible abundance!
Seven years later, we moved again. This time to a bigger town and a smaller lot. We again did the re-landscape thing and brought in as many fruit plants as we could – but this time there was no space for a greenhouse, only room for a little garden, and we quickly ran out of space for my fruit trees along the edges of the front and back yard.
But that brings us to TODAY!
Here we are 16 years since we first developed and lived on our original farm site and God has graciously allowed us the opportunity to move back there! The mobile home is long gone – in fact, the whole site had been abandoned for the past several years. Weeds and grass had overgrown the gardens and planting beds – the lawn hadn’t been mowed for years – and most of the fruit trees and bushes had not survived. But there are 3 acres of good cultivated land, several springs that feed a small year-round creek, a large wooded pasture area (for kids and for cows), and a beautiful building site with excellent views of the sunrise and sunset.
So starting this summer, we began the process of cleaning up the old site and we prepared to build a house for our family of six. It will still be a few months before we actually move to the site, but we have all kinds of dreams and visions for what will be.
One of those dreams is for a large-ish garden and orchard. (By “large-ish” I mean smaller than most commercial orchards, but far larger than any regular farm yard!) We believe that God has blessed us with abundance and we want to share that abundance with others! God has given us a love for growing things and a love for people – so our initial goal for this year is to grow enough fruits and vegetables for at least five families – and then hopefully expand from there! We’re not entire sure what things will look like in ten years – (maybe a U-pick, maybe going to farmers markets, or maybe just growing a ton of fruit for a lot of friends and neighbors!) but we’re sure excited to find out!
We want to grow as many different kinds of fruit as we can! Even though we are in Canadian Plant Hardiness Zone 3 and there are a few things that we simply can’t grow in this cold climate – there are SO many fruits that we can grow – so many more possibilities than you might think!
Growing fruit in zone 3 has it’s challenges, but it can be done! And over the next few posts, I’ll tell you a bit more about how we plan to do all that. I’ll explain some of the basic principles that we want to follow in establishing our farm, garden, and orchard – and as we go along, I’d love to share some of the skills, tips, and tricks that we’ve learned over the past 16 years through our mistakes and successes. Of course, I’m sure we’ll learn much more in the days ahead, and I’m looking forward to sharing all that with you too as we experiment, grow, and share the abundance!
If you’ve read this far, I’m assuming I must have piqued your interest at least a little bit, so I hope you’ll follow along in the days to come. I hope these posts encourage you, teach you something new, and lead you to share the abundance with others!