A Day at the Women’s ADD/ADHD Resort

There’s a flurry at the gate as another arrival announces themselves. There’s always someone there to meet and greet them.

“Oh man, I thought I’d never get here!”

“Right? The signage sucks.”

“You’re telling me. I made about ten wrong turns following the instructions people gave me along the way.”

“That’s par for the course. It’s like they’ve never heard of the place.”

“I was beginning to wonder if it existed myself . . . “

“You’re here now and that’s what matters. Come on over and I’ll introduce you to the poolside hyperfocus huddle. You got a data plan, right? They’re pretty stoked about that plant nobody could identify yesterday.”

“Cool. But to be honest, I’m having more of a scattered day.”

“Maybe you’d prefer the projects-half-done pagoda. You just go pick up where someone else left off and put it down again when something more exciting comes along.”

“Yeah, I could go for that.”

“Unfortunately, it’s downwind of the unwashed and demotivated campsite, but since you won’t be there long . . .”

“Cool. Hey, who are those hot guys and gals down at the beach?”

“Oh them. We bring them in for impulsive irresponsible sex any time you feel under stimulated. They’re changed up daily.”

“Wow. People must feel refreshed when they leave here.”

“I wouldn’t know. I mean, you can check out any time you like, but . . . ”

“I get it.”

“Oops. There’s someone else at the gate. I’ll leave you to it. The list of workshops is posted at the beach. If you hurry, you might make the noon presentation of “Getting Places on Time.” I can see it’s about to get started.”

“But it’s already 1 p.m. . . .”

“I know, right?”

How to get sales: The brochure

Every brochure’s mission in life is to get picked up . . .

The brochure is the street hawker of the literary world. It’s designed to hook you with its cover page and reel you in with fast-paced patter. It never breaks eye contact. Everywhere you turn is a compelling header, an authentic quote, or irrefutable photo evidence of someone having the best time of your life. Punctuation is reckless. Spelling is negotiable. Full sentences, optional. The clutter has been removed to clear an express route to the back page where you’ll find the key to what you didn’t know you were looking for. Just call, write, tweet, email, text, post…and all this can be yours.

At first glance it seems a simple enough task to design a brochure. Pictures, information, some late-night dabbling with publishing templates . . . a nice break from writing a doctoral thesis or budget proposal, right? Given the number of unread brochures left moldering in dank suitcase pockets, bleeding out on sunbaked car dashes, or worse, passed over alongside their trifold brethren, perhaps not.

Try this: Google search statement = “How to write a brochure.” Enter. Descriptors pop up, like enticing, grabby, glossy, persuasive, engaging. Oh, and simple and concise. So, although it’s tempting to shoehorn your entire product or service line into six ultra-skinny pages of justified text, resist. And using tiny font, cheating the margins, and rigging the line spacing does not hide the bulges. This little number only comes in XXS, so prepare to suck it in.

Here’s the diet plan:

  • Focus on one topic. Write multiple brochures to cover your line rather than crowd your message.
  • Identify your target audience so you can set the right tone and language level.
  • Design the front page to grab attention. This is no place for understatement. Aim for a good balance of text, imagery, and colour (color if your target audience is American). Think of it as a paper version of the web landing page. Its sole purpose is to funnel the reader into your campaign.
  • Your main message will appear on the inside three panels of the brochure. This is where you give a convincing overview followed up with even more compelling detail. Winnow out info that’s not relevant to your main message. Maintain the initial momentum. Leave white space.
  • Section 5, the last flap before the end, is a good place for coupons, testimonials, or other lighter content, like FAQs.
  • The back is typically where readers go for contact info and maps. It’s the call to action, whether it’s to buy, join, donate, or trade up to a newer model.

The brochure is not a sacred literary work. If it’s found lying beside a hiking trail, marked up with pen and fingerprints, tattered, and curved into the shape of a butt pocket, it’s fulfilled its mission

Plant Catalogue: 2021

Litchi Tomato from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Wellspring Gardens has teamed up with Deep River Home Hardware this year to bring you garden plants. You can find us set up in the store parking lot during store hours. Choose from over 50 varieties that include classics like Burgess Buttercup squash, newcomers like the blight resistant Mountain Merit beefsteak, and exotic novelties like the African Horned Cucumber or the multicolour Buena Mulata pepper. Quantities vary.

Browse the catalogues below . . .




This moment

This moment that holds the sum of our life together

A near half-century of friendship

Needs no words.

All is said, all is lived.

It is enough to lie beside you, watch you breathe.

You journey on without me, but I will see you to the crossroads

Where we part.


This hand

This hand that reaches blindly to hold mine in the night

Is reassurance that you know I am here

That this small thing I can do for you is enough

Just keeping watch.

I cling to your hand as the memories of all it has given flood in

And I am profoundly moved

By this simple act of trust.


This breath

This breath that is an affirmation

Is one in a precious chain of breaths stretching toward dawn

Each breath a reprieve from the finality bearing down on us.

I will celebrate a quiet moment of peace if you pass gently in sleep

Or fiercely embrace another dawn

Where your eyes flutter open

And smile into mine.

2020 Plant Catalogue

2020 catalogue

On your mark, get set …

Again this year I take my place at the starter blocks for the spring planting race. Crouched, gathering force for the grueling challenge ahead of me, I flex my joints and take a few practice breaths. I’m so tightly sprung that I make a couple of false starts, triggered by a few deceptive days of sunny weather or a dry patch of field. Each time, I trudge back to the start line through soggy cold soil and wait some more.

As time ticks by, I am already pushing out the dates for the first farm pickup another few weeks. The Gantt charts in my head are perpetually recalculating. The greenhouse is bulging at the seams with overgrown plants straining their pots. My neck has a crick from analyzing the sky for signs of planting weather.

Finally, we’re off! There’s not enough time in the day. Priorities swing wildly between bed prep, planting out, setting up irrigation, potting up greenhouse plants, and tidying the deck, which is ground zero for seeding ops. Every day begins with an impossible list that somehow gets done and the insurmountable becomes, if not surmountable, at least mountable.

Odd how I blissfully forget two things every spring. One: The biting insects. Two: My geriatric tractor. The bites I can endure. The failure to perform of my White 1270, not so much! A clever workaround by Farm Infrastructure Guy involving chains, bolts, smoke and mirrors gets my flail mower operational without the rear hydraulic lift until the new gasket kit comes in.

Made bold by this victory, off I go a-mowing with a diesel roar into the far reaches of the fields and beyond, carving out new pastures and arable real estate. Then sharp object meets penetrable object and operations halt. Nothings looks flatter than a big ole deflated tractor tire.

Time to practice more deep breathing. No need to check the skies–it will almost certainly be fair weather the whole time the tractor is up on jacks awaiting its new rubber because Ma Nature enjoys a good joke as much as the rest of us.

On my way to my comrades at Big Boy Tire, I lust shamelessly after the new Kubotas that sit gleaming on the dealer lots along the way. I try to recall a year when the old White hasn’t balked at the prospect of tilling yet another spring field and honestly can’t come up with a single one in ten years. Alternators, batteries, hoses, seals, tires…she’ll be almost completely replaced in a few years after what has been the slowest rebuild ever.

I remind myself that a few days one way or another won’t really change the outcome of the gardens. I settle into a steady, ground-eating pace. After all, farming is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.


Need a lift?








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2017 Heirloom Tomato Catalogue

We love our heirloom tomatoes! Every year in February it starts with the online seed catalogues. How to choose from the hundreds available? Well we hang onto some old favourites of course, like Black Cherry, Black Krim and Romas. But then there are the new temptations with alluring names like White Mikado and Eros. My dream is to eventually make my way through the entire tomato repertoire at Terra Edibles.

We get to know them all on a first name basis after selecting, seeding and potting them up twice. We offer them for sale at the local Farmers’ Market and on line co-op store. And of course we save a few hundred for our own tomato tunnel on the farm. Visions of French Tomato Tart and grilled beefsteak and mayo sandwiches begin dancing in our heads as we nurture our plants in the greenhouse.

This is our lineup for 2017:

Tomato Catalogue 2017 – Final Version (1)

Going forward…

Posts have been quiet on the gardening front for the past two seasons as we have been adding other components to the farm operations and transitioning the field gardening to wooden raised beds.


Goat Love

In keeping with our mission to promote farmland as a community resource, all components of the farm have been introduced keeping in mind the long-term plan for the farm, which is agritourism.

The three-year plan is to open a farm B&B that offers authentic interactions with farm animals and food production. We will be targeting a couple of our square timber outbuildings as rustic accommodations and converting the stable to a venue for on-farm workshops. The addition of a hammock tent camping option and other lodging variations, such as yurts and cabins,  will allow visitors to experience a connection with the land at their own level of comfort.

We have been transitioning from field rows to wooden raised beds. Although a mammoth undertaking in terms of cash outlay and investment in time, it solves a number of issues and offers extra advantages to our small scale of gardening:

  • Raised beds eliminate the need for tractor farming. Once prepared, they will only require light turning or loosening with a broad fork. This is less disruptive to soil structure and organisms.
  • The containment of the soil means that amendments can be better controlled and measured. Amendments and fertilization can also be fine-tuned to suit the particular crop in that bed.
  • Weed pressure is less since the paths between the beds can be permanently planted in clover (beneficial) and will not need to be weeded or mulched. Ever. Again.
  • Soil is kept high, dry  and warm, thereby allowing us to begin planting spring crops weeks earlier since we won’t have to wait for our low fields to dry up to run the tractor tiller. We can also choose to cover select boxes to bring tender crops further into the fall. Season extension is key to successful northern gardening.
  • The wooden boxes provide a ready-made structure for hooping and covering plants, trellising, and labeling beds. With a cordless screwdriver they can be converted to cold frames, hot houses or shade beds.
  • Materials such as row cover, plastic mulch, tunnel covers and drip irrigation can be reused and handled more easily by a single worker when dealing with 8′ x 4′ dimensions. Many of the farm’s damaged field materials have been recoverable, e.g. a 200-foot length of row cover with rips has a lot of salvageable, box-sized rectangles.
  • A lot of gardening is about psyching yourself for long tedious tasks, such as harvesting and weeding. Beds are rewarding in that you can finish one in minutes and check if off. I also find it easier to engage volunteer help when you can assign a box or two. Weeding field rows is daunting, just sayin’.
  • Aesthetically, arrangements of vegetable growing boxes and clover paths have curb appeal on a tourism oriented farm and can be more easily groomed. They can also be attractively interspersed with beds of flowers to provide colour, pollination and cutting flowers for market.
  • To the uninitiated, plants, weeds, paths and rows are not easily distinguishable. If you’re going to set the public loose on your gardens, boxes make it simple.

Raised beds make sense given our scale of operations and our intention to make the farm a public place.

The introduction of goats has been a game changer. We not only love them as friendly engaging creatures, but their byproducts (kids, milk, manure, visitor attraction) have enhanced  both our range of farm offerings and the ever important addition of fertility to our soil. We have relied on other manure sources in the past with mixed results and we are stoked to be able to control this input produced on our own farm.

Goofy goat crop

Don’t you wish your livestock was hot like me!

We free-range our turkeys and meat chickens on pasture as well. As with our garden formula, the poultry operations have evolved to provide a better quality of life for the bird as well as an improved system for optimizing on their contributions (manure deposited directly on the gardens and bug control).


Kanako Communing with Turkeys

We started out à la Joel Salatin (Polyface Farm), which entailed raising poultry from day old chicks in what is basically an upside down playpen which is moved to a fresh spot every day.


Chicken Tractors

Since we are small scale and do not really have “pastures” in the wide open spaces sense of the word, we encountered a number of problems. One was hauling heavy tractors over uneven terrain, which was hard on the labourer, the tractor itself and inevitably required some jiggling to make sure that there were no gaps at the bottom of the tractor.

The second was that it was hard to manage feed and water while bent over leaning into the tractor. If birds were reluctant to move forward or needed to be removed for injury or disposal, some unlucky person had to climb in and crawl to the back of the tractor. Usually the smallest or most agile intern 🙂

As the birds grew bigger, it required more tractors to house them while providing adequate space. Bigger birds make bigger messes and we were faced with either more moves per day or dirty birds. Birds also like to roost, which keeps them clean and dry, so we rethought the housing.

We now raise them in the greenhouse in a tented pen until they are hardened somewhat. They then go outside into a hoophouse with perches and an electric pen surrounding it to keep predators away. This gives them a roosting area, overhead protection (owls, eagles) and a larger area to graze. We let them out of the enclosure for part of the day and it’s amazing to see how they forage and range over large areas. When they’ve exhausted the grass supply, we set the pen up in a new location. There are still some refinements to be made, but all in all it’s nicer for everyone. Cleaner, happier, better fed.

Pigs are happy to have a warm dry house and a large area to root in. They are intelligent animals and when bored will get up to no end of mischief, which they have the sheer size and stubbornness to enforce. We house them in the “pig condo” which is a plywood structure on skids that can be moved with the tractor to a fresh location every few weeks. They are enclosed in an electric pen and will respect it as long as long as it’s plugged in. Experience has taught us that they have some kind of pig sensor that allows them to detect when the breaker has tripped and they are quick to take advantage and go AWOL.

Pigs, in addition to providing endless entertainment and delicious food, perform a vital service on the farm as part of the field recovery team. We clear a section, leaving them a few trees, and then wait for them to overturn the soil and uproot all of the shrubs and vegetation in their search for delicacies. When they’re done, it’s simply a matter of pulling a few stumps and tilling it for next year’s garden. Everyone wins.

We have yet to make the leap to breeding our own pigs, but it’s the next logical step if we wish to expand. It’s also important to complete the cycle on the farm so that visitors get the whole picture.


Wallow Heaven

To supply our endless need for nutrients, we are exploring the possibility of a community (farm community that is) composter and vermiculture operation. This would involve a collection or delivery system of some sort and some infrastructure as well. We have an outdoor wood-burning stove that could heat a concrete composting platform and a worm bed in the large greenhouse. Red wiggler worms and composting kits are another potential farm product.

In the past, our operations have included helping hands in the form of farming interns and farmstay students from abroad. Their contributions are highly valued. Not only do they perform the million and one tasks involved in a farm operation but they bring fresh outlooks, new knowledge and valuable feedback. We have not hosted this past year since operations have been largely reduced in order to transition the garden, but we are already in the interviewing process for a 2017 incubatorship position (intern or interns who have their own project and exchange labour for a place to set up business).

The biggest change will be a move from CSA (veggie basket subscriptions) to an online farm store. This hybrid will offer more flexibility to members and farmer and yet include many of the elements that make CSA a great marketing model. Members will still subscribe and have weekly pickups at the farm; however they’ll be able to tailor their orders to suit their family’s eating requirements and habits. Our community has a lot of people who live alone and would appreciate the chance to buy in smaller quantities.

From the farming end, we’ll be able to post what we have in the quantities we’ve produced, which covers both the crop failures and the unintended bounties, both of which are inevitable when you partner with Ma Nature in business!  For the adventurous eaters, we can still put together baskets.

Pre-ordering also allows us to market free-range eggs, wood-fired pizzas, sourdough, home-made soups, goat milk soaps and other products as time allows and the growing season waxes and wanes.


Sourdough Loaves from the Wood-Fired Oven

All in all it’s an exciting line-up for us and we can’t wait to bring you Wellspring Gardens, the next generation!









Once there was a way…

…to get back homeward.

But I’m afraid goats have become an irrevocable fact of life as long as I am farming. They arrived as a novelty and have somehow infiltrated into practically every aspect of my life. But I can justify keeping them…sort of.

We’re fast approaching our first year anniversary as goatherds (or as I like to call it, goatslaves) and have passed a lot of milestones: first kidding season, first vaccinations, first drenches for colic, first disbudding, first milking, first loss….We’ve learned to master goat cheese, goat soap and goat manure, the three byproducts from our dairy herd.

I have to regularly remind myself that the considerable investment in feed, infrastructure and veterinary bills will be paid out in rich compost for the market garden. As long as nobody forces me to sit down with a calculator I can continue to believe that.

Moving the steadily accumulating wealth of goat pebbles and bedding is the equivalent to the exercise classes I sign up for but never attend, so there are savings to be had there.

Although it’s tempting to argue their worth based on practical considerations, I’d have to say their true value is entertainment.  I spend so much time watching goat antics that I’ve suspended the satellite subscription (which is kind of an argument for both practicality and entertainment). Goats are natural actors and rarely have trouble staying in character. They’re simply built to be hilarious/cute/obstinate/annoying/endearing.

Each has their own role. For instance Reeses Pieces (stage name Rhys or Coco) is by far the friendliest kid of the six offspring. Always the first to greet you, he loves to put his front hooves on you and nibble your collar or hair and I often wear his autograph on the front of my shirt.  He’ll occasionally stir my coffee with a hoof, making it not only free-trade, but free-range as well. He’d make a great agent if we detoured him from his inevitable path towards buckhood.

Sierra Nevada prefers to play a supporting role. She is the barn daycare goat and doulah, who happily hangs with the kids when the moms are busy and accompanies her sister goats during their labour.

King, 170 pounds of shaggy, imposing-looking buck is the least aggressive of the lot with his understated little “meh” that barely registers on the bleating scale and the polite offering of his head over the paddock fence for rubbing. The only time he remotely resembles a leading man is during the rut, but to be honest, he’s mostly  ram without the ‘bunctious.

Cookies and Cream, an aging Nubian diva with a breathy moo she must have learned from a bovine pasture mate at some point,  is the self-appointed matriarch, always the first to the food and the loudest protester when the humans don’t keep to schedule. She has obviously had vocal training because she can project her  low voice from the stage (paddock) to the back of the hall (my bedroom) until she captures her audience (me, trudging down with grain).

Sunshine Girl, a nimble, good-time Toggenburg-Alpine, is the stunt goat. We’re almost certain she made her debut in the circus. She demonstrated early on that she is only behind bars because she so chooses. She easily leapt over the breeding stall gate  to escape the unwanted attentions of the suitor we chose for her and sprang back in with equal vigour when her preferred buck took up residence. She also catapulted onto the Christmas parade float as the fourth goat in the Three Billy Goats Gruff diorama and required some persuading to return among the goats who didn’t make the cut.

The remainder of the goats have walk-on roles in the daily soap opera that makes up the days of their lives. Aspiring starlet Peanut Butter (twin to Reeses Pieces and the producer’s darling) delights in slipping her still slender form between the bars of the hay crib to dine at leisure from within and flaunt her privileged position by depositing goat raisins on everyone else’s dinner.

Cookie’s two-thirdlets (we lost a triplet) Marshmallow Creme and Chips Ahoy prefer cameo roles that showcase their sleek brown and white coats and exquisite Egyptian profiles. They’re often found posing with heads tilted coyly, showing their long arched necks to advantage.

The baby Alpines, Capricorn and Capella are much too dignified to pose overtly but excel at stealth photo bombing. They’re never detected until you upload the files. Various body parts litter the cutting room floor.

The remaining does watch from the sidelines away from the admiring crowds (unless the admiring crowds have carrots); Bubblegum Girl, Aurora Borealis and Eloquent Mist are backstage ingenues just waiting to be discovered.

No production is complete without the credits:

Cameron McGregor – Producer

Sheila Selby – Director

Joe Renaud – Key Grip

Angie Chaput – Script Editor