Maple Bloom Farm
Jordan MacPhee and his wife, Catherine, run Maple Bloom Farm. We talked with Jordan about their vegetable production and year-round CSA Box.
Tell us about your farm:
We started growing vegetables in 2015; at the time, we were brand new to farming and leasing a plot of land. In 2018, we moved to our own farm and now grow two acres of mixed vegetables. We use regenerative practices like cover cropping and no-till to keep the soil healthy and alive. We even have a microscope so that we can keep an eye on the soil life! As an example of a no-till practice, we plant a cover crop to feed and protect the soil but then, instead of tilling the crop into the soil, we cover it with a tarp to block out sunlight. Once the cover crop is dead, the plot is ready for transplants.
We sell our vegetables at the Farmers’ Market and through a CSA. About six years ago, we started bringing in items from other farms to create a year-round CSA. The multi-farm approach is working well because it allows each farm to specialize by growing a smaller number of diverse crops. We started with multi-farm vegetables but now we’re expanding to fruits, meats and baked goods. We source some of the products through the PEI Growers Station which is a distribution hub for many PEI growers. With the expanded selection, we now offer a mix of organic and spray-free and sometimes conventional (less than 10%) when we cannot find organic or spray-free sources, such as various varieties of apples. Each item is clearly labeled for transparency. All products are from Atlantic Canada (except the coffee!).
Why did you become certified organic?
When we started in 2015, we applied right away and got certification in 2017. Customers wanted to know how their food was grown. They wanted to know that we were treating the soil well and taking care of the environment and our workers. Organic certification made that clear.
We recently dropped certification because a transplanting process that we use - paperpot transplanting - is prohibited under the Canadian organic standards. We’re at an in-between size where hand-transplanting is no longer feasible but we’re not big enough for larger scale mechanization. We will certify again in the future if the paperpot transplanting method is allowed in Canada, as it is under the United States organic standards. The paperpot transplanter is being reviewed by the Canadian organic standards committee this year so we are hopeful this will be the case.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Scaling up and creating efficient systems that can be shared with employees and partners. We’ve evolved from micro-scale to small-scale and then into partnerships with many farms and different marketing channels. Keeping all the moving parts going can be challenging!
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
We love working with our hands and supplying fresh, delicious food to our customers. The positive feedback is very satisfying. It’s a source of pride to know that we’re growing food that’s healthy for people and the environment.
Where to buy:
You can buy our food through our Farm Box CSA and at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. We also sell wholesale to select restaurants. Check out the Maple Bloom Farm website for more information.