Crandall. It’s a well-known name in Caledon.
The 4 sisters (Debbe, Sarah, Sheilagh, and Marce) have been making their own names for themselves in environmental circles for a number of years. Now, in an enchanting forest in northeast Caledon, on land that has been in the family for half a century, the sisters have teamed up for their next life adventure. An adventure called Mount Wolfe Forest Farm.
“Why Mount Wolfe?” queries Debbe Crandall. “Because we are located on the south slope of Mount Wolfe which is a significant physiological feature in this area. In fact, it’s the headwaters for 4 different sub-watersheds.”
“And it’s a Forest Farm” she explains further “because of the tens of thousands of trees that were planted here over the years by our parents. When they bought this land 50 years ago there were no trees here at all.”
Debbe, along with her sisters Sarah Crandall Haney, Sheilagh Crandall and Marce Showell, (the fifth sibling, a brother Taylor, lives in B.C.) have turned a portion of the property into a working farm. The plan is for a 100-family Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model with a bit of a twist.
“We want to take the CSA and the eat local habit and extend it beyond just vegetables” says Debbe. “There are a lot of amazing businesses and farmer-producers who are producing more than vegetables. And we intend to aggregate those items and make them available to our families.”
“Things like greens and garlic from Caledon’s Peace Ranch” she continues. “Bread and baked goods from Glen Oven Bakery in Glen Williams, eggs from Mennonite country as well as flour they have milled themselves, dry soups from our local Soup Girl, and preserves, honey, maple syrup, and more.”
The women are working with Yehuda Nestel, formerly of Plowshare, to develop their list of suppliers. And, although he moved back to Guelph earlier this year, the group also give credit to Jim Rutten who Debbe met while on the Board of Directors at Albion Hills Community Farm. When he left AHCF Debbe reached out to Jim and he agreed to help.
“What we have done is taken a model created by Essex Farm in New York state, which is able to provide an entire diet for their 200 plus families, and modify it for the Ontario experience” Debbe explains. “For Essex Farm things are a little different due to the absence of a dairy board and different abattoir restrictions and so on. As well, here we are on the Oak Ridges Moraine. So there are differences that have to be accommodated for.”
Mount Wolfe Forest Farm offers a 52-week CSA, with pick-up at the Farm once a week in summer months and every 2 weeks in winter for root vegetables and other products. Families have a choice of a Full Share or a Work Share which trades off work in the fields or the office for part of the cost of the Share. As well there are 50 Free Range Chicken Shares.
Sarah Dolamore, Sheilagh’s daughter, is the Farm Manager. “I spent about 100 hours last winter” Sarah smiles, “planning, mapping fields, deciding on every crop that would be planted, how many successions, when to seed them so they would come to harvest at the right time, plotting it all into a calendar.” “We are planning for cows, pigs and meat chickens on a scale that is appropriate to the land” explains the dedicated young Manager. “Such as pigs for rotational grazing, in social groupings, not overcrowded. The chickens will be part of our crop rotation in our vegetable patch. So there may be tomatoes on a patch one year and chickens the next, eating insects, scratching up grass, fertilizing the soil. We are not going certified organic but we are using best practices.”
“These will be very happy animals” she adds, “who just have one bad day.”
The sisters are understandably proud of the ecological stewardship that their parents demonstrated and encouraged, and of their new creation, Mount Wolfe Forest Farm. They are aiming for their first pick-up to be around mid-June. Meanwhile they invite you to come for a mini-tour. To arrange a tour call 647-335-8897. To order a Share, call or purchase online at MountWolfeFarm.ca
The Farm is located at 10054 Old Church Road, between Mt Pleasant Road and Mt Wolfe Road, in Caledon.