Share a farm

REGENERATIVE FARMING

Opportunity: Share a working farm
Farm: Mats Fine Oils
Location: Straffordville, Southwestern Ontario
Accommodation: apartment on the farm for full time

My wife and I want to share our regenerative farm to reduce our workload as we age. I need to spend more time continuing to managing the fields to build soil health as well as working more with our draft horses.

We press Sunflower, flax, camelina and hemp oils from crops on our farm. We also produce rye and spelt flour along with corn meal from our fields. We have heritage chickens and organic eggs.

We are self sufficient in feeding ourselves and our animals, have solar cells and generators that run on sunflower oil for our own electricity. We also have grid available.

As well as the four draft horses we have four tractors that run on sunflower oil, a combine and a swather with all of the equipment needed in the fields as well as everything for baling hay.

We practice regenerative farming using pastures and animals, having crops only after many seasons of pasture.

We have a welding shop, machine shop and wood working shop and all the equipment necessary for making and maintaining our equipment.

The farm is debt and mortgage free and have a good customer base for our oil and flour sales.

We built a new two bedroom apartment over our new workshop and would like to find a family or couple that want to share this lifestyle in hopes that they develop their own business as well as work on the farm or take over some of our enterprises. To begin, we propose that we provide an apartment, a shared garden, and a field to grow their own business in return for 15 -20 hours a week working on the oil pressing, in field work and equipment maintenance. Wages are also possible depending on Soil health knowledge, farming skills, horsemanship, welding, woodworking and machine shop ability.

Please look up the site I created to inform you about our self sufficient lifestyle:

(http://matsfineoils.com/Sustainble%20living%202022.html)

Making a living:

One of the things I am trying to do is to have any person interested in coming here devise a financial plan to see if it is viable and has a future.

There is certainly a possibility that someone could take over some of the businesses we have already established.

The food is from a shared garden, the wood for the stove is from our wood lot and a shared responsibility for wood chopping . The apartment is traded for a certain amount of hours each week working for us. So if one has their own business it should give some money for the other needs in life. There may also be some wages for those experienced in the fields, welding, machine maintenance and horses .

We live a very intensive work load as the timing for crops and cover crops is very critical. Working with the horses is something that needs a lot of time every day to not only to feed them, brush them and training. Horses drink a lot of water so one has to make sure the water tanks are full in the summer and the barrel full in winter.

Haying is very important for the horses to survive the winter months with no pasture.

There is a lot to do in the fields with crops and cover crops. Timing of everything is critical. Harvesting to be done with a combine and lots of seed cleaning to be done as well.

The oil pressing occurs about every 6 weeks. I do all of the oil pressing in about one day, filter and bottle for two more days then deliveries to the stores and drop off locations to customers. The pressing could be done twice in a 6 week period if we have enough seeds which would eliminate some of the cleanup. I generally spend a month cleaning up doing just a couple of hours each day when it rains.

What would you propose to derive your own income from?

mat



Some thoughts and Questions answered.

I have been interviewing a number of people and it is a very difficult
thing to do with trying to understand what potential candidates expect
and what my idea of the future is. Farming is going to be difficult and
responding to the climate change is just one of the things to deal with.
Diminishing Fossil fuels  are certainly going to make  our present
lifestyle difficult. Having a farm that is at least self sufficient is a
good start but things like solar cells are only useful for a short
lifespan. Mine are already about 10 -15 years old.  Yes I have sunflower
oil for my diesel but I think the horses are at least sustainable as
they can replicate .

Growing things seems to be the best bet for a any future if one likes to
eat and having a community will at least help.

-mat

I hope that everyone has been vaccinated. I know many of us are dubious about the whole idea of the vaccine but due to my own bout with leukemia I need to be especially careful.

Unfortunately most younger people decide not to get vaccinated and the statistics that show those in hospital are between 20 and 50 years of age. Stats are here

(https://health-infobase.canada.ca/src/data/covidLive/Epidemiological-summary-of-COVID-19-cases-in-Canada-Canada.ca.pdf)

There are always downsides to everything we do and the vaccine is the same. When I was diagnosed with Leukemia and there was little hope of any recovery our doctor made a suggestion that perhaps I could get a stem cell transplant. There was less that a 30 percent chance this would work and beside the first session of Chemo did not go well and my outlook was very poor. My doctor made the suggestion that we could try another chemo session. It would either kill me or jump start my immune system. My immune system started to come alive but not good enough to qualify for a stem cell transplant so he made the suggestion that we could try again with another chemo session. It worked very well and I now qualified for a stem cell transplant. Again the prospect of more chemo, radiation and hospitalization in Toronto.

I have never been more sick than after the stem cell transplant and again recovery was very unsure. I did survive but I was the only one in our small group of friends I met in hospital.

Dorothee my wife was a pharmacist before we met and she certainly knew the outcome was probably not very good. But I trusted that my doctors had some sound scientific experience and perhaps just as important was that I was a very healthy seventy year old.

The pandemic is very real and will kill many people. Just being healthy is not an assurance that you will not get sick, die nor give the illness to others you meet.

I prefer that everyone has at least two vaccines for my own protection. I have had all three vaccines.

Those who have not been vaccinated to stay away until you have been vaccinated.. I know this sounds harsh . The mandates are mostly geared to alleviating the overwhelmed hospital workers. It is not the be best solution but I trust those who have experience and a scientific background

We may all get the pandemic at some point but hopefully there will be a hospital bed for those who need help overcoming the pandemic and some surgeries and cancer patients can have access to the hospital.


mat

For those who wish to pursue this further please email me and suggest a date and give me your phone number then we can have a telephone conversation, I will call you after 8pm on that day that you reserve.



I'll answer the questions as best I can below each question:

  1. You are using solar power for most of your electrical energy needs. But how much of the mains is being used, if at all in your home and also for daily farm operations? Is it possible to completely run off-grid at this point of time? At least in terms of electrical power. Is there a possibility of using water to build a source of power generation, depending on your land topography?

We can run totally on our own electricity with the solar cells and diesel generators that run on sunflower oil. The house is pretty much run on solar but some of the machines need a diesel generator. The stream is too small to get enough power unless the dam is built up.

  1. What kind of sewage system do you have on your property? Do you use compost toilets or a septic tank system? Is it dependant on the municipality?

We have our own sewage system. We put a new system in to satisfy local regulations using water. We had a composting toilet in our previous place and will probably use it again.

  1. What kind of lands surround your property? I can see that Staffordville is typically farmland. But how would you best describe the kind of land you live on, in terms of trees and vegetation? Do surrounding lands have an influence over your property, in terms of what they choose to do or use on their farms/land?

When we purchased the farm it was used for conventional growing of cucumbers. It is a sandy soil but with hard work , clover crops, pastures and compost the soil has improved. We have two areas of woods for logging the firewood. We have a small creek that never runs  dry. Lots of trees of all kinds.

  1. I’m assuming your land falls under the category of ‘Agriculturally zoned land’, but please correct me if I’m wrong. How difficult has it been for you over the years, to obtain permits and approvals from your local county for various additions you have had to make on your land? What do you foresee as a potential roadblock going ahead, if any changes are to be made on the land?

Yes we are legally a farm. No real difficulty in getting permits and approvals. The real roadblock is getting getting older and maybe not able to do as much work. We have made a lot of changes to the farm and this should be good for many years to come.

  1. You mentioned you are big on using cover crops as part of your land/soil preservation and regeneration. What else do you use to supplement this process? We have learnt enough to know that it can take several years to heal, from our lessons in permaculture. Do you use a compost supplement to your horse manure? Do you have a composting operation going on as well?

I know that cover crops work well on our farm but one needs to get the timing correct. We have also used mushroom compost. We do have multi specie pastures that stay for a few seasons before going in to a crop. We do not use much in the way of horse manure ( except in the pastures) as we are already high in phosphorus. I sample the soil every year and make adjustments from the soil analysis.

  1. Your oil and wheat operations are your primary source of income on the farm. Do you source your seeds every year or do you have a seed saving program devised for yourself? Or a combination of both? This is directly related to the sustainability of your farming operation and being self sufficient for life.

The oil and flour are our main source of income but we also rely on our pensions and a mortgage that I hold as income. Without the pensions it would be hard to survive monetarily. We also use the pension money for purchasing machinery and things like cover crop seeds and compost. We save seeds and I am trying to develop my own sunflower seeds. We grow all of the animal feed for the horses, cow and chickens. We have very few expenses.

  1. Do you grow all your food on the farm or do you also depend on the surrounding community for your needs? Or a combination of both?

We grow all of our own food on the farm but once and a while supplement it with something like fish. We have a greenhouse for starting seedlings. We always have a large garden for our own food and preserve  most everything. We have friends that we trade our butter and chickens with for pork and beef.

  1. Your draft horses are at the foundation of your farming operation and heavy leg work. Do you have a breeding program to sustain this valuable resource or do you get your horses from someone else? Or a combination of both? Also, other that the daily care of the horses, how do you manage any emergency with the horses’ health? Also, do the horses feed solely off the land or do you supplement their feed with some external sources as well?

My mare died a year ago and have another mare now called Ginger. Hope to get a stud for her from the Amish this spring to produce offspring. We have a vet to help with the horses and an Amish friend that clips the hoofs every 4- 6 months. The horses eat the hay we make as well as our own oats and sunflower meal. They love carrots and apples too. We have four draft horses which are well trained.

We are busy all year round.

Mat




  1. What are your core principles and values that you base your operations, relationships with people, the community, animals and your land that you want a new couple/family to integrate with, to carry on your vision and legacy?

That is very difficult to answer. Working hard every day gives a good foundation to basic health. I like all people but hesitate with those who profess to have the only religion. With the climate change the many problems facing the world finding someone to go forward with the farm is going to be difficult unless we can agree. I basically understand that human civilization is doomed but we need to do the best we can under the circumstances.

  1. What are your fears that you want alleviated by the inclusion of new people into your lives? Is it primarily having someone to take care of what you’ve built? Or is it something other than that as well?

We need a small community that can work together in difficult times. Learning the ways of farming is difficult and one needs to get the timing right for everything. Having help will make sure things are done on time.

  1. Coming to the most important aspect of our own respective lives, that we both can agree on- our wives. Without their presence and support, life wouldn’t be as meaningful. I’m sure you can agree! I was reading your blog and sensed your urgent concern about Dorothee, especially during your difficult time with your illness. I would like to know what your immediate concerns are and how you envision a new family making Dorothee feel safe and taken care of?

Life is a lot easier now that our farm is established and we have good customers. Both Dorothee's and my health seem very good. She does the meals and chickens and all the house work.. I do the fields, maintenance and planning.

  1. I want to mention something personal about us. We have been married for nearly 7 years now and have not yet started a family of our own. Having a conceptual understanding and acceptance of the direction the world is heading towards, our biggest concerns have been about raising a family in the city, with absolutely no guarantee of basic resources and fear of not having any control over our own lives. What are your thoughts about us moving in and looking to build a life and expanding our family in the future?

Dorothee and I have been married about 6 years... I never wanted to get married but I did find the perfect gal for me. I would be very worried about having children as our future looks grim. Maybe consider you having a child once things are stable and you know how hard life will be. We have just recently been adopted by a cat who just had 3 kittens and they have enhanced our lives in many wonderful ways.



  1. Due to the choices we have made in the past couple of years, we are unable to travel anywhere at the moment and in the foreseeable future as well. Our parents are free to visit us whenever they are able to do so. We have no doubts about wanting to live the rest of our lives in Canada, independent of the system (eventually). What kind of security and assurance would we have as a couple moving away from the city, looking to start a new chapter in their lives, and one that would allow us to grow individually and also create a healthy, enriching environment for our future children?

There is no assurances except your life skill abilities.. be able to do plumbing, help with electrical things, drive a tractor, drive horse, repair anything, weld, know plants well, be able to use your hands etc.

  1. Do you or Dorothee have any family of your own who would also be involved in the stewardship of the land in the future?

At our age our parents are all dead and Dorothee's  and my brothers are not interested in our endeavours. Dorothee has a son who has never visited and does not want to be part of this. I have no children. I just want to share the skills we have. The farm will continue in some way when we are gone. I have had a very lucky life and would like to see others enjoy this lifestyle.

Look up my name (matthew redsell, or mat redsell) on the internet and see the many occupations I have had.


good luck

mat