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And what's with the name?
THIS IS NOT THE TYPICAL STORY of both of us being born into 3rd generation family farms, the knowledge of our fathers being drilled into our head over summers spent slinging hay in the dusty fields of South Eastern Ontario...no...this is the story of 2 people who were busy running the rat race colliding, and discovering the desire we both had to raise up livestock and grow our own food in a way that supported the land it was produced on. So began this venture of sustainable agriculture called Heriter Farms....we hope you enjoy our story!
PATRICK WORKED AS A DOWNTOWN TORONTO EXEC for the past 25 years prior to owning the farm, doing carpentry in his spare time while dreaming of cattle.
Several years ago he moved to Madoc and began seriously thinking of farming, but wasn't sure how to begin such a venture with no farming experience and a complete lack of fencing and equipment.
While renting out his fields to a local cash crop farmer, he often thought of starting a cattle operation at his current location, but knew the 100 year old barn and lack of shade in the fields weren't well suited to sustainable livestock rearing and wasn't sure what type of farming he really wanted to do.
HE KNEW HE WANTED TO RAISE BEEF CATTLE versus dairy, and it wasn't until a trip to Scotland where he saw Highland Cattle up close on their native soil that he decided which animals he wanted to use to represent the farm.
HE WASN'T FULLY CONVINCED that conventional farming was the way to go because it poisoned the land, and farmers were always complaining of not making enough money, being overworked, and having to worry that one bad year of weather would bankrupt their farm, so he started researching alternative methods and stumbled upon JOEL SALATIN AND HIS WORLD FAMOUS MOB GRAZING TECHNIQUES. It was a simple YouTube Video that changed his entire perspective on farming, and he felt wholeheartedly that it was the only way to do it. If you're going to raise animals for food and tie up land for grazing, it should be done in the most responsible way possible. It shouldn't ruin the soil or degrade the planet. It should improve the pastures and increase biodiversity, and Salatin's methods did that. It was this way that Patrick wanted to try, but it would take lots of time and research to get everything together and ready for a mass scale organic grazing operation. Luckily he wasn't going to have to do it alone.
VALENCIA WAS WORKING AS A PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKER for the Victorian Order of Nurses, offering house cleaning in her spare time when she and Patrick first met.
A country girl at heart, Valencia is one who is not afraid to get her hands dirty and try new things, like learning to drive a tractor and help a 400lb sow give birth to tiny piglets. She was at home in the country after summers spent at her maternal grandparents massive acreage in Northern Alberta as a kid, and with the farming blood passed down on her father's side from her grandparents in Northern Quebec. Her experience gained from being a WWOOFER at various farms in British Columbia brought knowledge of organic gardening and seed saving, plus an interest in wild foraging and food preservation. Valencia wanted to form a tiny homestead on her own 21 acres in Ivanhoe with her son and eager young border collie, but when given the chance to expand and create something new on 160 acres of prime farm and forest land, with someone who believed in sustainability, ethical livestock care, and proper soil management, she decided to join forces and sold her property to begin a new venture with Patrick in the tiny hamlet of Marlbank.
PATRICK PURCHASED THE FARM IN THE FALL OF 2016 and immediately began acquiring animals - first a head of 30 Highland Cattle (known as a fold), and then 3 Tamworth piglets and a pregnant breeding sow named Daisy, who would provide him
with certifiable offspring to begin building the swine herd up with, and provide stability and income for the farm while he continued to search for quality Highland cattle, not an easy task in a conventional farming community. Valencia came along shortly after and immediately formed a bond with Patrick and his tiny pigs, hanging around to spend time sitting in their pen, talking to them in their own expressive pig language (or imagining she was that is!). Who knew pigs were so great!??!
KNOWING THAT HERITAGE BREEDS would be the mainstay of the farm, we wanted the word heritage to be incorporated into the name as a reflection of what we planned to do on this farm, and as an acknowledgement that we had inherited something truly special here (See the Page: Why Asselstine Road for more on that). It only seemed right to name the farm something with purpose.
WE KNEW EARLY ON THAT THIS FARM WOULD BE DIFFERENT from most (see: Why We Are Different?), so why pick a generic name? After many hours of google searching, play on words and translations of common farm terms into witty titles, we stumbled across the word Hériter, which according to Websters Dictionary, comes from old Anglo-French roots: Hériter, meaning "to inherit"; and Middle English, heritage, meaning "something possessed as a result of one's natural situation or birth". What better word to describe animals that have been largely unaltered since the 6th century A.D. and a farm that was inherited from a couple who was passionate about natural farming and land stewardship?? So there it is...Heriter Farms!!!
"To inherit the land, the livestock, old ways,
To farm with the yearning of long ago days.
Glimpse into the past with the shaggy horned beast,
and be thankful of their giving of life for your feast."
V. Bedard, 2017
Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2017). Heritage. Origin and Etymology of the Word Heritage. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heritage on Oct 24, 2017.