Sweet Earth Farm
Stephanie Banks and Joe Piotti run Sweet Earth Farm. We talked with Stephanie about their organic haskap orchard.
Tell us about your farm.
Sweet Earth is a small family operation. Our property is about 200 acres with roughly one third cultivated and the rest in woodlot and old growth Acadian forest. We have 10 acres of organic haskap orchard which was certified in 2018. We sell haskaps retail at the farm gate and to local beverage companies. This year we started selling pure haskap juice and we’ll have haskap powder available soon. We also raise pigs, chickens, cattle, and a family milk cow. Our animals are not certified organic but are fed non-GMO grain, except for the cattle which are 100% pasture raised.
Why did you become certified organic?
We really like the flavour of the haskap berries but besides their taste, they also have great health benefits. The antioxidant levels are much higher than wild blueberries. Our customers are health conscious, why would they want anything less than certified organic?
What's been your biggest challenge?
In the past few years, the biggest challenge has been finding employees. Especially since covid, there seem to be very few young people interested in working on farms. Our other big challenge is birds - they love haskaps. After orchard maintenance in the spring, we have to get the nets up quickly. Netting is time consuming and labour intensive; it feels like a high stakes race against the birds!
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Joe would say it’s the hungry animals that need to get fed! But seriously, farming is hard work but it’s also fulfilling. Putting good, healthy food on the table for our family and for our customers is incredibly satisfying. We get to live in a beautiful place, stay in shape with physical work during the growing season and then when winter comes, we can take time to rest, reflect and plan for the next season.
Where can people buy your products?
You can contact us through our website. Fresh berries (when in season) and juice are sold at several Nova Scotia retailers listed on the website and we ship our haskap juice and powder across Canada. We also sell at the farm gate and make deliveries to Halifax every two weeks.