• James Armstrong

Catch the beat of Hudson Heartbeet Community Farm


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

An enthusiastic crowd caught the community farming Heartbeet March 17 in Hudson’s community centre.

Hudson Heartbeet Community Farm / Ferme Communautaire Heartbeet de Hudson is the official name of a local community organic farming initiative and was christened at the Hudson Community Farm event held Friday, March 17, at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre. The name for the recently launched farm was the result of a contest that focused on local high school students but was also open to the general public. McGill University student Charlotte Bourget was the winner. “This was the best out of 30 submissions,” said Farm Director Rébecca Phaneuf-Thibault. Bourget will receive the first Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) basket of fresh organic vegetables of the 2017 season as a prize for her winning entry.

The Town of Hudson is supporting Heartbeet with a five-year land lease of a piece of vacant property adjacent to the dog park on Main Road opposite Thompson Park. According to Farm Director Loïc Freeman-Lavoie, the town will offer a one-time grant of $2000. The town will also provide a well and toilet facilities serving the farm and the dog park.

“As a non-profit organization, it is important for us to have financial sustainability and engage with the funding bodies in the region,” said Freeman-Lavoie. The list of bodies includes the Muncipalité Régionale de Comté de Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS), the Concordia Food Coalition, and the provincial and federal governments. Applications for grants are also being made including Canada Summer Jobs funding from the federal government.

“It was very important to us as we created this project that the farm has to be able to stand on its own two feet,” said Freeman-Lavoie emphasizing the importance of the sale of the CSA baskets. Membership in the CSA plan provides 18 weekly baskets of produce from July to October at a cost of $540. Members will have a choice of two pick-up locations in Hudson on a Saturday and one other weekday. According to the literature provided by the project, consumers and growers share the risks and benefits of food production.

Food Secure Canada

Guest Speaker Diana Bronson, Executive Director of Food Secure Canada, congratulated Phaneuf-Thibault and Freeman-Lavoie on the progress they have made with the project. “It is evident to me that what you are doing here is part of a very energetic movement across the country that is being lead by young people,” said Bronson. “You are determined that we can farm more sustainably and eat healthier, locally grown food,” she added. According to their website, Food Secure Canada is a national alliance of organizations and individuals that promotes food security and sovereignty.

“Our future is a matter of policy choices,” she said referring to a quote in the film The Greenhorns presented earlier in the evening. The film promotes, recruits, and supports new farmers in America. “In Canada, we have had a policy for 30 to 40 years to eliminate small farms and consolidate them into bigger and bigger industrial farms ridden with pesticides resulting in unsustainable farming,” said Bronson.

Bronson pointed out that the Federal Liberal government is developing a national food policy for the country that would put more healthy local food on the plates of Canadian families. She encouraged everyone to participate in upcoming government consultation on the topic. “They will be consulting with individuals, groups, non-profits, and charities,” she said adding it’s absolutely vital to support local farms and farmers.

Hudson Legion

Members of Hudson Legion were on hand to support the project. Michael Elliott invited the Heartbeet to participate in the weekly Hudson Farmers’ Market that is organized by the Legion and congratulated the duo for their courage and energy recognizing how, in his experience, farming frequently involves mud and misery.

“We are approaching this project with experience,” Freeman-Lavoie told Your Local Journal. He noted Phaneuf-Thibault has recent experience in managing a farming operation and they are reaching out to all farmers for their advice and support. The field in question has not been cultivated in many years requiring a full season of cover crops to break up and nourish the compacted soil.

“The soil is a heavy, heavy clay,” said Phaneuf-Thibault. They have arranged to grow the 2017 crop on a local private farm.

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