Farm Profile: Holdanca Farms

This post comes to us from Helen Verbanz, a dedicated FAC member and volunteer who wanted to share a bit about Holdanca Farms, a farm based in Cumberland Country who delivers chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and pork twice a month to customers in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

John Dynisveld runs Holdanca farm along with his family, and is a passionate proponent of pastured raised, free-range meat and eggs.   Here’s a little more about his philosophy, taken from his farm’s website:  “As both a career farmer and scientist, John puts his dedication and scientific research to the test. Winner of the 1999 Governor General Award for his academic achievements in environmental research, John endeavors to create a responsible stewardship by implementing a more natural approach to farming than many of today’s producers currently use, primarily in the use of pasturing and free range practices.”  John also won the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture’s first Farm Environmental Stewardship Award in 2009, established to highlight producers who make good land, water and habitat stewardship a significant part of their farm operations.  You can read more about the initiatives that led to this award here.

We want to share a few descriptive farm stories that John’s customers receive in the regular email updates of farm life.  This post is a collection of typical e-mails that John sends to his customers that shows the challenges and rewards of running a family farm today.

June 8, 2012

Hi there,

Our hot and dry summer is sticking with us.  I am still very happy with how well our pastures are growing despite the lack of rain.  I spend a lot of time watching the grass grow, and with good management it keeps growing some even when it seems too dry.  I have moved the ewe flock and part of the cow herd to neighbouring fields to help ensure I will have more pasture in the fall.  I was moving cattle at dusk last night and had to travel past the pig pastures.  They were having a great time grazing on all the white clover! My swine course professor from college still swears that pigs don’t eat grass, but I’ve stopped trying to change his mind.

July 23, 2012

Meat and egg delivery on Friday

“Hi there,

The warm weather is continuing although a nice rain would certainly be appreciated.  Every summer I always manage our pastures with a drought plan in mind, and I have not had to use it until this summer. That means we are still in good shape for pasture. We have had a few days when the hot weather has caused a bit of heat stress on some animals (added more shading to help with this), but overall we are coping well. I have a video to post on Facebook that shows some of our summer cattle going into a very tall and lush pasture, and what the pasture looks like a day later. A very efficient way of harvesting grass!

There has been a lot of talk in the news about grain prices rising due to drought conditions in other parts of the country and the effect this will have on food prices. Fortunately we locked our feed costs in a few months ago, so our prices will not be changing for this production season. I sometimes second guess if I should sign a feed contract, but this year it sure did work out!

August 20

Late August Meat and Egg Deliveries

Hi there,

The grass is really growing well again!  This is great for us – almost everything that happens on our farm is linked to our pastures, so more grass is a good thing.  This time of the year the pastures are full of clover – my daughter Maria can find a dozen 4 leaf clovers in minutes.  For all of our animals clover is great – they like the taste of it, it is very digestible, and because it is a legume, it naturally brings nitrogen into our soil system, feeding the worms and other soil life that sustains our pasture. In the evening it smells sweet to walk through the fields when all of the clover is in bloom.

I will be delivering later this week….

August 31, 2012

Response to Helen’s request at compiling this blog post

Hi Helen,

I am sorry to be slow with this.  I have been busy with my kids at the county exhibition where they were showing 4-H projects.  Both had sheep and chickens there, and did quite well!  I have attached a sheep picture, hopefully this works okay for what you need.  I have lots of pictures of various themes, but never seem to do much with them!

The write-up is nice.  Thanks so much for this,

John

~~

Adventures in Local Food wants to share more stories about the farmers that grow and raise our food.  Contact us at foodaction@ecologyaction.ca if you’d like to write a blog post about your favourite farm!

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