Back in April 2017 I had been invited by Jean-Martin Fortier to give a seminar on perennial vegetables to the staff of La Ferme des Quatre Temps, an amazing farm near Hemmingford, Quebec. Jean-Martin is well-known for his book “The Market Gardener” (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=12597). I used the opportunity to travel around Canada and ended up in Quebec where I had been invited to visit namesake Patrice Fortier who runs an alternative seed company La société des plantes. Sadly Patrice was on a trip to Italy, but I nevertheless had a great couple of days in Kamouraska, see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=10384 We kept in touch and earlier this year he asked if he could interview me for his new print-zine Mi-Sauvage: Les Adventices (Half-wild: The Weeds) has now been published and can be ordered from Patrice here: https://www.lasocietedesplantes.com/blogue/ It can’t be bad with a lovely illustration of a dandelion on the front. I just wish I had payed more attention in my French lessons :) (however, modern technology allows me to scan and translate!)
I’ve met some wonderful people on my journeys over the last 10 years. One of them is my friend Carmen Porter in Hemmingford, Quebec who kindly offered to put me up when I was invited to Canada in April 2017. The reason for being in Hemmingford was for a meeting and to give a talk at La Ferme des Quatre Temps, the farm managed by author of The Market Gardener, Jean-Martin Fortier, which is just down the road from where Carmen and her mother Tamlin George live.
Jean Martin Fortier at La Ferme des Quatre Temps
Carmen is a young singer-songwriter inspired by herbs and nature who is also a keen gardener. She has a wonderful podcast series called Songs and Plants which presents tunes where “the scientific names of species comprise the lyrical content”. I was recently in touch with Carmen again in connection with a music video of her song Botanical Berceuse (a lullaby of sedative herbs!). I helped with a few plant pictures. This is real permaculture music that teaches as one listens! She joined us for the seminar and a tour of the farm with three young permaculturists including Jonathan Pineault and Alexandre Guertin from the company Écomestible (www.ecomestible.com), who had been contracted to grow perennial vegetables on the farm for sale! I wonder how it’s going almost 5 years later (wow, has it really taken me so long to blog about this!) After the seminar and farm tour, Carmen drove me to her place and we had a tour of her garden, although it was very early spring and only a few sprouts had emerged. I think also it was only just the year before she’d started work (and the gardens have expanded greatly since I was there).
Have a listen to Amaranthaceae by Carmen Porter before reading more (who else could make “a sentimental ballad for lovers of spinach, quinoa and family”)?
A fig overwintering in the living room, just like home:
Thanks to Carmen for sharing the pictures of how her garden looked 4 years on!!! First, the front garden:
…and the back garden:
The next day we went for a walk in the Hemmingford woods in a nature reserve area, the path ending at a place they call the “Gulf” locally right on the US border and I went rogue and illegally stepped into the United States of America. Shortly afterwards we heard a helicopter and retreated quickly back into the forest as a raven flew ominously overhead!
So early in the spring there were only a few plants to see, although we did see a few Erythronium (trout lily) shoots, so it wouldn’t have been long after that the woods would have been awash with spring flowers! I’ve collected pictures from the walk below:
A short video of the Gulf:
Who else than Carmen could have written “A love song celebrating the relationship between Cucurbita pepo and Peponapis pruinosa” (squash and a solitary bee)! Beeloved is great original permaculture music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoYO1mtg-HQ
Finally, a few pictures from the woods behind Carmen’s house including pitcher plants (I was surprised to see these out so early):
…and, approaching a pool in the woods with cattails, I was convinced we were hearing ducks calling until Carmen put me right. This is the call of the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), a fascinating species you can read more about here
Many thanks again to Tamlin George and Carmen for your hospitality during my visit to Hemmingford :) Listen to more of Carmen’s Songs and Plants blogs including an interview with Experimental Farm Network’s Nathan Kleinmann here
The reason for my trip to Canada in March / April 2017 was because I was invited by Jean-Martin Fortier to visit and give a talk and discuss perennial vegetables at La Ferme des Quatre Temps, an amazing farm near Hemmingford, Quebec (south of Montreal and near the US border). Jean-Martin is well-known for his book “The Market Gardener” which has sold more than 80,000 copies! This album of pictures gives my impression of my short visit on the farm in very early spring, where a whole area is devoted to trialling permaveggies for the market, the best commercial operation I’ve seen! Thanks for the invite Jean-Martin!
This is the Wikipedia entry on the farm: “In the fall of 2015, Fortier was recruited by André Desmarais, Deputy Chairman, President and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Power Corporation and son of Paul Desmarais Sr, to design and operate a model farm, La Ferme des Quatre-Temps, on a 167 acres property in Hemmingford, Quebec. The mission of the farm is to demonstrate how diversified small-scale farms, using regenerative and economically efficient agricultural practices, can produce a higher nutritional quality of food and more profitable farms. The farm consists of four acres of vegetable production; sixty acres of animal grazing rotation including beef, pigs and chickens, ten acres of fruit orchards, a culinary laboratory for processing and creating original products and a huge greenhouse to produce vegetables throughout the year. The principles of permaculture were applied to ensure ecosystem balance: flowers were planted, ponds were dug to accommodate frogs and birdhouses were built to naturally control the proliferation of pests. Ten bee hives have also been installed on the property to promote pollination and mobile chicken coops allow hens to roam from one pasture to another to feed the worms in manure from cows.”
Thanks to my long-term “virtual” friend, vegetable and fertilizer innovator extraodinaire Michel Lachaume, I have been invited by well-known Québécois farmer and author Jean-Martin Fortier to hold a seminar at the farm he manages in Hemmingford, Quebec: permaculture-inspired la Ferme des Quatres-temps for leading chefs in the area! This will probably be on 11th April!
I’m going to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to do a little mini-tour of Canada, do a bit of teaching, learning and experience early spring edibles in another part of the world in nature and gardens! Here’s my rough tentative itinerary
Arrive Vancouver 28th March
29th March – 4th April: Salt Spring Island – Victoria – Vancouver
(5th – 6th April) Halifax, NS (uncertain)
7th – 12th (Montreal – Quebec – Ottawa area) with 11th at the farm!
13th Toronto (Botanical garden?)
13th Evening flight back to Norway!
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden