About Our Farm
We started Branching Path Farm in 2017, on the land of our friends and farm mentors, Simpler Thyme Organic Farm, in Freelton, ON. For our first three years, we were living in the Crown Point neighbourhood of Hamilton and commuting to our farm plot, which grew from 8,000 square feet in 2017 to 28,000 square feet (approximately 2/3 of an acre) in 2019. In October 2019, we moved to our own land, in Simcoe, Norfolk County. We now have approximately 2 acres of field space in annual vegetables and fruits, with another 3 acres of wild space, berries, flowers and trees.
From the start, we have sold our products at the Ottawa Street Farmers Market in East Hamilton, just blocks away from our former home. We start at market in late April and attend until late December, or until we sell out. We also have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) veggie subscription, which runs for 20 weeks, from June to October.
We use organic growing practices at all times, but we have not sought organic certification. We prefer to rely on the transparency of showing our customers what we do. This means: no pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides), no chemical fertilizers, no GMO or chemically treated seed. The only fertilizers we use are leaf compost, worm castings, mushroom and (organic) turkey compost, our own household compost, organic granulated poultry manure, mineral dusts and a foliar (leaf) spray of fish emulsion (this is the only thing we ever spray - by hand, on only some crops). We also make compost teas to inoculate our soil with good bacteria and improve its health. Our seeds come primarily from William Dam Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds and Urban Harvest Seed Co - and while they are not all organically certified, we always choose untreated seed, and a mixture of open-pollinated and hybrid varieties (again, not GMO). We control weeds with hand tools and tarps, and control insect pests with the use of fabric row cover, soil health, and companion planting various plants that provide habitat for beneficial predatory insects. Our methods are low-till, as we use a gas-powered roto-tiller to break ground and prepare beds when needed, but try to limit tilling as much as possible and move towards using tools like the broadfork and wheel hoes throughout the season. We also make use of silage tarps in the practice of stale seed bedding, a method of weed control and bed prep. Many of our practices are inspired by permaculture ideals and sustainable market garden techniques which we have learned about through books and podcasts.
We invite people to come out during the season to see what we're doing for themselves. Our young kids are out in the field with us, and we all snack on fresh veggies off the plant.
We are all about variety in the field, and love to grow some of everything we can think of. Along with staple crops such as Salad Mix, Kale, Chard, Carrots, Beets, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes, Peas, Beans, Squash and Cucumbers, we grow more unusual greens, including many varieties of Asian mustard greens (bok choi, tatsoi/choho, mizuna, komatsuna), fruiting crops like ground cherries and cucamelons, and roots such as daikon and watermelon radish.