Becoming Farmers

Posted by Sara Dent on March 24, 2014

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Andy and Cara Abrahams weren’t born into farming families, but it’s their work of choice. Starting full-time vegetable farming in 2010, the couple and their two children, at Abundant Acre Family Farm, enjoy growing great-tasting vegetables in Greendale. “When people ask what we grow, I always say, almost any vegetable you can think of… like lettuce, carrots, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and much more, ” says Cara.

Their journey towards becoming organic vegetable farmers was a gradual one. Andy had been introduced to backyard organic gardening as a child. “I will always remember the taste of my father-in-law’s tomatoes. They were like nothing I‘d ever had before. So, when we got married in 1999, we always had a small garden, to grow tomatoes, among other things,” Cara comments.

Books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan and documentaries on the industrial food system helped shape the Abrahams’ lifestyle choices. Growing a large family garden to supplement their income from 2006-2008 just north of Princeton, BC, the Abrahams developed some good experiences to draw on in the future.

In April 2009, a move and a change of livelihood was in order for the family. On their move back to Abbotsford, their four-year old daughter shared the backseat of their car with trays of seedlings. Andy contacted one of his Dad’s cousins, who gave them access to a quarter acre of land that they could use to try growing vegetables on a larger scale. “2009 was a great growing year. Lots of sun and not too much rain. We had an abundant year!” Cara says. They ran a weekly 16 member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Vegetable Box program for friends and family on Saturday mornings. After crunching the numbers come season’s end, they determined that they could make a living at small scale farming.

“Through the start-up of this business, we have been really blessed and supported by our families. Figuring out how to farm like this is not simple and I think it’s a good thing that we both tend to be quite optimistic,” Cara shares. “Farming is definitely an adventure and a profession in which you only get to implement lessons you learn the next season, in most cases.”

The couple shifted to full-time farming in 2010, which saw them provide about 50 families with a box of seasonal vegetables for half the year. In Spring 2012, they consolidated three fields leased in Abbotsford and moved to 1.5 acres in Greendale.
During the last 5 years, the Abrahams have learned about different soils in the Fraser Valley, managed the challenges of being commuter farmers, and have embraced all that is a part of direct marketing to CSA members, local restaurants and being a regular vendor at the Abbotsford Farmer’s Market. They now run a 70 member CSA and live at the farm they lease on the fertile plain in Greendale.

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“We use four unheated greenhouses for our warm loving crops, but everything else is field crops. We’ve seen a real hunger for local food during these last few years. People care about how their food is grown and what impact that has on the earth and it’s inhabitants,” says Cara, “They also love vegetables that taste like they are supposed to. I’ve had people say, “I don’t like beets (or tomatoes, for example), but I like yours!”
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Andy says, “We are not ‘certified organic’ but use organic and sustainable farming methods. We don’t use any chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. A lot of what we do is simply trying to make plants healthy and happy. We look for varieties that do well in our climate and the times within the year that each plant prefers.”

Abundant Acre Family Farm is now taking registrations for their 2014 weekly CSA Vegetable boxes in Chilliwack and Abbotsford. You can find them at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market as well, once their season starts. Details at www.abundantacre.com or 604-823-0144
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