Bicycle Based Home Delivery: all customers in the lower Hamilton area receive their veggies delivered to their door by bicycle, further reducing the impact of transportation related emissions. Maximizes customer convenience and lowers impact while creating additional employment for local delivery companies and minimizes the environmental cost of on-farm pickups.
Living Wage: we are committed to providing employment opportunities that reflect the true cost of living in Hamilton, and as such, pay $15 an hour to staff. In the first year of CSA sales, the farm also made a small profit after paying all costs associated with the construction of our many projects and the purchase of tools, storage bins, irrigation equipment and seeds. The high-output, low-overhead model is highly appealing to the next generation of farmers as it allows for a significantly lower debt-load than conventional farming methods and can be accomplished on small areas. The entire operation can be funded for less than the cost of a small, used tractor.
Beyond paying a living wage, we see our role as educators and connectors and have accepted 4 interns from McMaster university, are part of the Tastebuds student literacy program, and have hosted 4 student projects (25 students in total) on the farm including the development of a digital small farm management suite, an experiment with producing and processing quinoa, the construction of a portable solar generator, and a project focusing on farm biodiversity and pollinator habitats. Student interns gain hands on experience in a range of farm activities.
The Welcome Inn Food Bank: we donated all excess produce, “ugly” vegetables, and provided our clients with the option to donate their shares during vacation. This was a hugely popular option, and 90% of our clients chose this instead of trying to get a share at the beginning or end of the season.
McMaster University Water Network: we are part of a new student leadership program that will allow students to create water related projects on the farm.
McMaster University: One group of 5 students worked on a Pollinator and Beneficial Insect project. They constructed a bee hotel and bat house, and planted numerous pollinator species in order to increase biodiversity on the farm. We also have a group of 5 engineering management students working on a business plan for the social enterprise.
Tastebuds Edible Education: we are currently part of the edible education guide and have offered two workshops for grade 7-12 students focusing on sustainable farming methods and careers in agriculture. 50 students are signed up for an upcoming seminar.
THAAT Co-op: 23 of our 50 CSA members were located within the delivery zone of THAAT, which we utilized to provide 16 weeks of delivery. This allowed THAAT to hire one temporary worker over the summer. It also helped reduce the farm's environmental footprint and provided an excellent story for our members. We believe this element of convenience and stewardship increased our sales.
Kitchen Collective: we have partnered with the Kitchen Collective to facilitate the development of a local food hub in Hamilton. Unfortunately, due to delays in construction and a car accident (the new building was hit by a car), there were delays that didn’t allow us to sell ready made foods and value added products in our shares for 2015. This is something we are working on for 2016. We were going to use the space for developing a BBQ sauce, but due to a crop failure, this also did not happen. We utilized their space for our downtown cold storage in order to ensure that the cold chain was maintained during bicycle delivery.
A New Leaf Farm: early in the season they decided to not run a CSA. We picked up many of their members and provided an online portal for our members to order chicken, eggs, and meat from A New Leaf Farms for the 2015 season.
Halton Food Council: The work currently being done on the farm is being used to develop a social enterprise model that will be used to train the next generation of farmers and engaged food citizens.