Sunday, June 6, 2010

Memories

My sister Susanne, who lives in Dundas called me up today, and told me something that sort of set a different tone to the whole day.
"The farm is for sale again"
Our farm...home.
If only.
There really is no place on earth I love more than the farm I grew up on.
Our farm is in West Flamborough, and my dad, who passed away 13 years tomorrow, sold it in 1989. It is 75 acres of wonderful sandy loam soil, the most fabulous soil for a market gardener.
I have so many wonderful memories of growing up on this farm and know it intimately.
From the barn and its' tap with the best tasting and coldest water that we drank with a tin cup, the chicken coop where I played with my cousins when I was young. The bush in the back with it's stream I could skate on in the winter, or in the spring collect tadpoles.
My mom was an avid gardener, and was growing tomatillos, ground cherries and vine peaches 30 years ago. As kids, we sat out at the highway with a little wooden table and waited for people to stop and buy our asparagus, raspberries, currants and sometimes strawberries.
Particularly with the asparagus, we saw the same city folks year after year. I still have that table, and the memory of my mom weighing a pound of asparagus with a balance and a 1 lb stone.
My dad was a farmer first, but also a school teacher. As was my mom. They were both very hard workers and I remember looking out the window at night to see my dad on his tractor with the lights showing the way, so he could plough. Sometimes I like to hop on my tractor at night and work. I don't have to, but I like the feeling it gives me.
My mom and dad and our farm. It was the best life.
The farm is now for sale for 1.6 million dollars.
I know whoever buys it is buying it with the hope of redeveloping it....that has always been the hope of those who came after us. It is a prime location, but rezoning has always been denied. The house and barns are terribly run down, the renters not caring. My 2 sisters and I have a hard time driving by it. It was once glorious and immaculate. No more.
If only I had that amount of money I would snap it up. Before my mom and dad sold it, I remember walking through the fields and wishing I could buy it. I was a single parent at the time and didn't see any way.
I have an urge to take the day off tomorrow and go up to see it. I want to walk around those fields, see my mom's old gardens and the trees she planted, walk in the bush. Think about my parents and slow down for the day.
Maybe I'll buy a lottery ticket. It is good to dream.





6 comments:

Chris Ennest said...

$1.6M is a tough pill to swallow. Reminds me of those Lotto 6/49 Just Imagine adverts.
Enjoy your day off if you take it.

Denise said...

What a beautiful story!! I wish you could buy the farm...how amazing that would be. Definitely go see it...take lots of pictures!

Brewer said...

What wonderful memories, so well written, it's like I was there myself. I kind of know what you mean; I wish I could buy my boyhood home, but it's also now too much money. But they say you can't go home again. I don't know if I understand what that means. But it would be nice to have that lovely sandy loam :)

Linda said...

Thanks for the comments, all. I went today and have pictures and a story. An incredible experience, but pretty gut-wrenching.

mongrelpuppy said...

A great illustration of the agricultural crisis. Well voiced summary of the loss of the Spirit of Farming..We ran a farm (leased)just down the road from your old place 15 years ago that was taken over by construction and trucking folks. The Kemp family farm just down from you now looks very tired. I used to help Ross Kemp with barn repairs and maintenance on his goat dairy..
Urban development and "real" estate growth culture driven valuations of Ontarios prime food growing land is a pathology, a mental illness seeded by oil driven short term visions.
We tried to negotiate long term leases in that area for market garden and extended season farming but gave up. The farm at Westover Rd and Safari just sold under fianncial duress. Offshore and Calgary oil money now own a lot of that farmland and are just in a holding pattern. Some local farmers we know from the area now talk of European, Chinese and Oil industry folks buying up the larger ones for agribusiness. That's a daydream soon to collapse with the oil fired and debenture financed economy. The valuation of 1.6 mil is a Disney reality. Like the beautiful soil in the Dundas valley with farms sitting idle hung up on some abstract development hallucinogenic daydream.
Yours is real...the farmland will revert to community based farming in the not too distant future..so keep your eyes on it, look for equity investor partners, avoid debenture financing like a plague, and think of farms as family time share condos..single family farms are passed, but extended family is coming back. keep the dream alive.
No one in our family from both sides are interested in small scale family and community farming..we're the only dreamers in the tribe..but with the 49% increase in fruit and vegetable prices in the US last year, who's the dreamers now?..where's the city folks food supply going to be..Third World countries?..dont think so..not for long..Buffet is talking $400 a barrel for oil not too far down the road.
agribusiness and urban development are both in a terminal phase..so hang in there..unless you and folks like you hold to your passions, the real estate folks with their development fantasies will starve to death in their granite counter stainless steel kitchen.

ali said...

Linda,
This made my teary-eyed. At least that house will remain alive in your memories. I know it doesn't seem that easy, but at least the house and the land were loved by you and your family, and in return the house sheltered you, and the land fed you.