July 11, 2016 Missive from J.K. Farm
One of the first things I remember about settling in to my new rural home was the tour of the property conducted by the previous owner. It was such a lovely gesture on his part to personally walk me around, pointing out landmarks and boundaries; here is the abandoned rail that cuts right through, over there is the 35 acre woodlot. “it could use some thinning” He said. “Let me recommend a good arbourist” It was like the passing of the baton. It felt like a powerful moment. The proper stewardship of this land is now in my hands. My watch had begun.
As part of the tour we came across 8 different wells! “The one by the barn is probably the best one” he said. “My dad used that well to supply water to his tomato canning factory on the other side of the creek” I made a mental note of this remark while I pondered what could be the reason for so many wells. It was mostly about trial and error. Some wells dry up faster than others. Some offer better quality water than others. The idea of supplying one’s own water from one’s own land remains somewhat magical to me, compared to merely turning on the tap in a municipal setting.
During a summer like we are experiencing in Prince Edward County this year, one is reminded of the precious gift that water is and the precarious nature of its provenance. Many in the community have had their wells run dry in the last couple of weeks. The water truck, a common sight, as it makes the rounds, replenishing the wells. It makes me think about water management and conservation on my own property. I think about ways to lessen the strain on my own well. I think about harvesting water from the roofs of the buildings after a rain. My imagination soars as I picture a Tim Burtonesque system of cisterns and aquaducts that collect and distribute this found water from a high elevation on the property down by gravity to the gardens, the dishwashing area, the laundry and the washrooms. I am reminded that a large volume of water is required each week on the farm for our wonderful summer dinner series. We need so much to prepare, execute and to clean up afterwards. Just as each week there is time set aside to conceive of a menu and plan its production, now I am extra motivated to set time aside to think about water; how dependant we are on it, and what I can do on the farm to help sustain its availability to us. Also, I think I will join everyone else in the community in praying for rain.
It was a great dinner this past Saturday on the farm. It was a capacity crowd. The wines, introduced by winemaker Anne Sperling were so diverse and interesting. From an orange wine that takes one’s usual perception of white wine and turns it on its ear to their prizewinning Cabernet Sauvignon from the challenging 2013 vintage. And of course the “wild ferment” Chardonnay with my summer lobster salad. Ruth Klahsen was with us as well and graced our table with her fine cheeses. There were oohs and ahhhs and then silence as the diners fell to.
top photo by Paul deCampo @pauldecampo of Southbrook Vineyards