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A good crowd showed up at the United Church for the first workshop organised by Twillingate’s Back to Roots Project.
A good crowd showed up at the United Church for the first workshop organised by Twillingate’s Back to Roots Project.

TWILLINGATE, NL – The first workshop of Twillingate’s Back to Roots Project, held at the local United Church, was well attended with people interested in gleaning advice from homestead farmers Steve and Lisa McBride.  

Lisa and Steve McBride, homesteaders from Mobile NL, lead a workshop about fish pan farming.

“Fish Pan Farming” proved to be an interesting discussion on how to grow fruits and vegetable crops in these readily available containers.   

The McBrides moved from Vancouver, BC to Newfoundland and Labrador in search of their dream to own a house with land. They left their high-priced apartment in the concrete jungle of the big city to finally settle in Mobile, NL.  The move has done wonders for their souls as they have adapted to the rigors of the local climate and continue to produce a wide variety of food in an environment often at odds with farming.

“We didn’t have an opportunity to grow any produce when we lived in Vancouver,” said Steve. “Our dream was to be homesteaders and to use the traditional food skills of past generations of Newfoundlanders to start our gardens from seed.  

“There is a saying that we are just one storm away from having empty shelves at the local grocery store, but it isn’t only that –it is also an economic exercise as we can produce quality food a great deal cheaper than what you will buy at the supermarket. We are also in control of the soil quality and fertilizer used in raising our crops.”  

The McBrides and several participants noted certain health issues they think can be attributed to the factory farmed, chemically fertilized, mass-produced food that is a part of many of our diets. Inclusion of self-produced food provides the satisfaction and peace of mind that a safe, nutritious alternative is being added to the table, they said.  

The workshop touched on a variety of subjects related to fish pan farming (or container/raised bed gardening). The pair explained how to produce good soil by adding local seaweed and capelin to help provide a nutritious base in which your plants can thrive. They also discussed how various pets, such as goats and ducks, can be part of the agricultural cycle in helping with pest control and soil building.  Workshop participants were intrigued by discussion of vermiculture as an effective means of composting. Many left with bags of red wiggler worms in their pockets to place in composting buckets at home.  

There was discussion on which plants grow well in raised beds/containers, with dialogue on plants that grow well together to ward off pests waiting to devastate your crop just before the harvest. 

There was a wealth of knowledge be found in the audience, and participants shared tips so everyone will hopefully get better results with their backyard hobby. The McBrides explained their continuous learning process; they had crops of small vegetables and through trial, error and talking with one another, they were able to produce better, healthier yields. The couple runs a Facebook site (Backyard Farming & Homesteading NL) that facilitates discussions between gardening/homestead hobbyists.  

Back to roots  

Kim White runs the Back to Roots Project, sponsored by New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP). The program helps ensure seniors can benefit from, and contribute to, the quality of life in their communities through active living and participation in social activities. Workshops are open to people of all ages, and younger people are encouraged to attend to gain insightful information from the experience of elders. By empowering seniors and encouraging them to share their knowledge, skills and experience with others, NHSP enhances seniors’ social well-being and community vitality. 

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