by Robert Wallace
Most people think that the planting part of a growing season takes place in the spring and summer. But I’ve recently learned that is not the case at all. Indeed one of the last crops we plant is Garlic! It’s an extremely low maintenance crop that yields one of our most popular and diverse plants. A garlic planting also holds a special significance for myself and my fellow farmers at UBC Farm because it’s basically the last thing we are going to plant together as a group this season.
My wife and I got accepted to participate in a cohort of the UBC Sustainable Agriculture Practicum. Check it out! They are now accepting applications and if you are interested in becoming a farmer but need some practical experience and hands on learning this is the program for you. I can not speak highly enough of it and feel an incredible gratitude for our opportunity to take part.
Since last March we’ve worked side by side with 10 other students and many staff, teachers, interns and volunteers to run a full fledged farm out at UBC. Most people don’t even know that a proper farm exists out there! To be fair it is one the best kept secrets in Vancouver. It's a beautiful space with a mandate for education and boy did we learn a tremendous amount about growing food this year. To celebrate and honour that learning we decided to do a garlic planting on our personal farm with some of our “Farmily” (shown above) participating. Some of them wanted to plant their own and so we made extra space for anyone who wanted to. It was a celebration to mark the ending of this growing season and the beginning of our own “UpBeet Farm” in the Upper Nicola valley. It’s always an amazing experience for us to bring people to our farm and show them why we decided to change our lives and become agrarians. The land is so incredible, we both felt we had to.
To plant the garlic we had to prepare the beds, rake them out, purchase the seed garlic, source mulch, dig the planting holes with a pick axe (you’ll see it in the video below), plant the seed and then insulate with mulch. All told it took us two weekends, and many laughs and stories. Here are some timelapse videos showing the amazing support we had and how we did it.
Farmers are incredibly social with work ethics to match. I could not be more blessed with willing hands on this project. The best part is they have to come back next summer to harvest their share with us! I can’t wait to harvest and taste our savoury, spicy treat!
It’s also bittersweet too, as I’ve just started at Groundswell recently and am getting to know my new classmates and undertake our new learning adventure there, my time at UBC Farm is winding down. It will be winter soon and we’ll be going our separate ways, getting other jobs, focusing more on school and planning our next farming season. This garlic planting has been symbolic of that transition. We get together and plant, let the miracle of the seed take hold, and reap the rewards of our planning and hard work down the road. I believe at Groundswell the same principles apply. We invest in ourselves, each other and our communities the same way farmers trust the seed and the earth, thus we create a beautiful present for everyone in the future.
And who doesn’t like some garlic right? :D