How Sandy Soil Gardens Came to Be
The name Sandy Soil Gardens comes from the soil we grow in. Much of the land where we are located is very sandy. We began our first season in 2021 at Deleau, MB and in fall of 2021 we relocated to south of Virden, MB along the Gopher Creek. Both locations having a good amount of sandy soil.
Many farmers will tell you sandy land isn't good land to grow on but growing up Maria always remembers how proud her father was of the sandy soil he managed to make fertile. When thinking of a name for the garden we wanted to honour our valuable soil that has gifted us so much and so that's how we got the name. Many don't realize the ideal conditions for a vegetable garden are water, sandy loamy soil and sunshine. So, weather permitting and some irrigation I think we will be set.
The idea for Sany Soil Gardens came about from a need that was noticed in 2020 when the world shut down and local food became scarce. All our lives we had always enjoyed fresh produce in the summertime and the idea of that potentially not being possible made us pull up our pants and get to work. Maria grew the garden at Deleau in 2020, an 85 x 50 foot plot. Halfway through the 2020 growing season the wheels were already turning with plans for expansion the next year.
In 2021 we had our first official market gardening season, serving 26 weekly CSA members across Souris, Reston, Hartney, and Brandon and beginning to attend some farmers markets casually. In 2022 we had 22 weekly CSA members and attended the Virden and Oak Lake beach farmers markets weekly. 2022 also saw us expand in to livestock with eggs, meat chickens and pork sales.
Right from the conception of Sandy Soil spray free has been a priority. We do not spray any synthetic chemicals onto our soils and gardens. We choose to use all organic methods of gardening. We can not classify ourselves as organic as that takes getting certified, but we don't currently feel going through the certification process will offer us any benefit other than being able to say we're organic. We are continuously learning and educating ourselves to work towards better soil health, in turn leading to more nutrient dense plants. We are always happy to talk plant and soil management practices.
When it comes to raising our animals, we try to give them the best lives possible and live by the "one bad day" principle. Meaning we raise them as ethically as possible, and their only bad day is their last. Our laying hens are free range. Weather permitting the hens have the opportunity to free roam wherever they please, often leading to a real life easter egg hunt. Our meat chickens are raised in "chicken tractors", a kind of large mobile coop where they get rotated on to a fresh piece of green grass daily. This is both beneficial to them and our grass. The pigs enjoy the outdoors, and in the summer get access to fresh green grass and mud wallows as well as a shady shelter.
We are part of the Loop program, a program that diverts food waste to farm animals. Once a week we go to the local Co-op in Virden and get all the food waste for the day. This is often lots of produce and bread. All the animals enjoy loop days and we're happy to divert food waste from landfills and instead turn it into fertilizer through the pigs and chickens.
We hope to keep expanding at a slow and steady pace and we can't wait to see what fun awaits us in 2023.
We hope to connect with you this season!!