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Unapologetically Canadian
Unapologetically Canadian

Episode 58 · 3 months ago

Reid Allaway and Tourne-sol's elec-truck project

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

I spoke to project head Reid Allaway about organic vegetable and seed farm cooperative Tourne-sol's operations, protecting farmland as a commons and how they went about getting a fully electric truck.

My name is Tracy aial and I am unapologetically Canadian. This week we're speaking with read alaway. He is one of the CO owners of cooperative to Sud which is a what would you call it? I guess I mean it's a farming cooperative, but it's a workers co op. Is the the legal structure, and so it's a Coopi the idea of a worker's Co op is that it exists to fulfill whatever mission you give it, but in providing good jobs for the worker members. And so when we were starting our farm, we looked at various business ownership and management models and we wanted to all be on an equal footing and have a democratic decisionmaking structure. So we gravitated towards coops and among the various types of coop structures, the one that suited our purposes the best, or seen too, was a workers cooperative. And at that point there weren't any workers cooperatives directly engaged in agricultural production. But it has fit us well enough that we've had a number of other Quebec farms follow our lead, and now I think we must be there must be like fifteen vegetable farming businesses similar to ours that are registered as workers coal offerative right and can you. It's interesting because I helped co found and an agriculturban agriculture of Coop here and we're done. But we've gone to a nonprofit, nonprofit solidarity model because we found, because we were doing farmers markets, and so we found that the nonprofit structure work best for what we were trying to do and and for what we were actually achieving, because the workers coop is supposed to be good jobs for members and it wasn't very good jobs for members. So, yeah, realize a community project, in this case for us. From the very outset there were five of US starting the farm and our intention was for all five of us to work at it full time. So having the sort of gainful quality employment as central to the the mission was very logical and key and and universally agreed upon as being crucial, and because it was five people giving virtually all of their time to it. The idea of extending the decisionmaking structure to the broader public of the to have a wider membership like a solidarity coop would have, which you could totally do with the CSA farm, but you might have to be more open minded than we were, where we felt like the idea of sharing decision making while all of the risk and workload was being borne by the five of US didn't interest us, and so we wanted to keep the decisionmaking limited to a smaller membership. We still call our CSA members members and they are members of our CSA weekly vegetable basket program and they are absolutely integral to the proper functioning of our farms marketing and thus of our farm. But they don't have any any defined decisionmaking power in terms of how the farm is managed and what we do with it. Well, and someone with a CSA basket probably doesn't need that anyway. I mean, and they're not. They're not really interested in the annual general meeting and all I could stuff usually, nor would they want to do the four hundred other hours of meetings that would be necessary to grasp what's going on and make informed decisions. Yeah, exactly. I'll find the other five of us, who are now actually seven, as we've had two of our long term employees join the coop as full members, and we're looking to continue that progression over time and have it become more of a fluid continuum like a larger coop would experience over over time, where the founders are gradually joined by others and the founders contribution can diminish and dilute and through that process over over twenty thirty years, I think that's our greatest chance of making something stable that outlives us and continues to feed local families and provide good jobs in farming here. Yeah, yeah, because your land. Where is your land? Actually, because it mean we are right at the intersection of all of the major transit roots in eastern Canada. Highway Twenty, highway forty, highway, thirty, CN and CPRAIL. All of these items run within five kilometers of our farm. Keeping it in farmland...

...for the next three generations will be an issue. The pressure of Perry urban development in this region, which is some of the best remaining farm land in all of Quebec, is going to be astonishing and the were better equipped in Quebec than than people are elsewhere in Canada, where the legal protection of farmland is is really strong. But we also believe that having five hundred families directly involved in benefiting from a farm is probably an even stronger protection for the the vocation of this land than any legislation that can be deemed irrelevant when you know so called development. Yeah, it's a it can be challenge land. It can be a challenge keeping farm in it in a family, let alone in a you know, with a, with a group. They used five hundred farms. Are you actually supplying baskets to five hundred families? UNDRED and twenty, I think, is the actual CSA membership presently, and that includes people who take shares every two weeks. But every week we're doing five hundred shares. Wow. And so there are seven hundred and twenty odds CSA member families and we've stopped going to market. We re oriented all of our efforts to the CSA exclusively, but in tandem with the the vegetable production, which is now all CSA, we have a growing and very successful organic seed enterprise that operates on the farm and produces and contracts and also buys and resells organic seed pretty much across Canada at this point. Yeah, well, I know because we've bought, look, quite a lot of your seed. Actually. We're very happy with that stain part of your operation. Yeah, and that's been really fun it's given us a chance to diversify our sphere of influence. Seed production has been a passion of Dan's since we were undergrads, and it's also drawn a lot of people to our farm who might not have been interested in visiting or working at just a vegetable CSA, but for whom the seed production and marketing aspect is really interesting. And it's also allowed us to create, to help to foster a another sub economy where some of our past employees have chosen to go into seed production to avoid having to do all the marketing of CSA. And like many, clode Como is now running a seed farm and we're her main buyer at the plane from fil that. So we're helping to help other small Quebec seed growers to have a market for their products so that they don't have to start a seed company. They can just sell it all in bulk to us. Right. And how much land are you operating for that kind of a pretty are on? Five acres? Oh A, sorry, five hectors owned and two more hectors rented, and we were renting everything until about three years ago we severed and purchased the lot. Kind of the logical space between the main road and the first drainage ditch. We're smoke cultivating a bit of area across the ditch rented from our friends, neighbors and mentors of Lefelmno PA, which is also the Mouland they said, and the duovern family. And we're here because they offered to rent US land back in two thousand four and, even though it wasn't really to their advantage, they also agreed to sever and sell us the land that we were we're operating on in two thousand and eighteen. Maybe we did that relatively recently. That yeah, while that we didn't have a lot of incentives to assume all that debt, we were pretty happy paying rent to our neighbors and friends rather than paying mortgage to the bank. But for the long term health of the coop and made sense to acquire the land before it tripled in value again, which seemed to be the way it was going, and and we were able to do it. We were able to convince the PHINACIA. It was certainly easier to convince the are not. Then saw about the Sippeta q. The commisson pull up with the own study quality, because they have to agree to any lot division on agricultural land and you have to have a really strong case if you want them to break up a larger lot into two smaller lots. And typically they don't want to create small lots because they create the kind of shred the edges of farm land by creating lots that people can buy just as a hobby farm...

...or a suburban home with a bunch of hate but you know, a big yard right. But given that we had been supporting six or seven families for more than a decade, they had a hard time arguing that the lot was too small to support a farming enterprise and so they sor to urban agriculture. Actually. Yeah, so that was a big an important hurdle or chapter in the history of the coop and now, if we can manage it properly, it should eliminate that, the big hurdle that typically comes with a generational transition where all of the equity of the founders or owners is tied up in the land and the land has to be sold at at or close to market value in order for those people to retire. We're trying to side step that by not having any equity personally in the business and that the farm really belongs to itself and we're just stewards. But a smart way to go about it. But it's not. It can't. It can't be easy. No, the big challenge is making enough money at it that we can pay ourselves adequate wages so that we can, by living simply and being careful, we can put aside money for our retirement from our wages rather than depending on the land sale for our retire for retirement savings. Right. So well, in many ways you're great breaking ground in that area too, because there's not a lot of coops. I mean, I don't I mean the caught model by itself, we should mention before we even start, is actually pretty hard all by itself. I mean when we started this we were a little idealistic about it, and there's many when we actually turned into a non profit solidarity co op, we did consider just going with the nonprofit route because it would have been easier our values. We decided it was more important to have co ownership and Co basically the cooperative values were important to us. Yeah, it's certainly we didn't do it for any ease of it's actually much harder to run a coop than it is to run an Obie an l yeah, yeah, you can't. You can't just empower aboard or an executive director to manage things. And the provisions for Democratic Governance are very real and they are slower and more cumbersome than someone dictating what's the way to go. But they also result in higher long term success rates because everyone involved has had to compromise quite a lot along the way and you don't get anything if you leave, except you leave so you can leave your frustrations and your cotton, your compromises behind and the coop will bid you farewell and reimburse your initial shares, which have a trivial value by the append to a certain amount of time, and or sometimes shares that you've accrued as dividends and in good years. But ultimately, if any one of US chooses to leave the farm, the farm would owe us a certain amount of money. That is long term debt, but not a not a whole lot. So there's a real disincentive, you know, for myself and my wife to quit this farm and try to start another farm. would be just filled us with absolute horror were we're easily like way too old for that and we're forty three and forty four not old at all, but it does like, even with twenty five years of farming ahead of us, there's no chance that we're never going to give up, will compromise on anything and will, you know, work through any differences of opinion that we have with our fellow coop members, because the prospect of of giving up on it and walking away with not with nothing, but with them with minimal means to start over, would be also having lived through all of the great benefits that a coop provides, a flexibility of schedules and management at such a high level of efficiency, with seven brains operating the machine, that the idea of going back to a single director or or a couple based business would just be terrifying. What can you talk a little bit about some of the biggest successes you've had, because mean one of the one of the benefits that you do have, especially with the way you're going, is that you will your legacy will be this farm...

...that will continue after you're finished, which is, in a farming community, actually a big deal. Now there's so many farms that you know, family farms that have going for generations and have had to sell out to other people because they and people that don't even keep their values, but they just need it to retire. I mean, yeah, that's happening in Quebec all over, and so you don't have to face that. At least. That's a big deal. Yeah, nor do we have to raise our kids in an environment where that kind of immense pressure hangs in the background all the time. I really couldn't care less if our kids get involved in farming. I we honestly can just say you're free to do whatever you want. If you want a job on the farm, well, yeah, we love to have you. Why don't you a harvest theseparagus on Saturday and will pay you? And they're like that sounds like workd at. Yeah, well, Hey, you, that is work as a job. You don't do what we're paying someone else to do it. If you want to do it, then you can do it, but the future of the farm is not dependent on them developing an interest in this particular mission. The farm continues to attract new energetic, brilliant and wonderful people every year and some of them will be happy to carry it on. And our goal right now is to even when we're hiring people, when emily and Renee are interviewing folks, meeting them for the first time to talk about a single season employment opportunity. They're actually also sizing them up. Do we think this might be someone you know? Where does she live? Is Her partner in the region? Is it possible that they would actually settle here and that she might stick with the farm in perpetuity? These are now perspectives that we have when we're and when we're enjoying getting to know our new employees for the first time, we're already trying to plant the seeds of Hey, you know, if you come back next year, we'll teach you bed prep and if you want to learn the pest and disease scouting with renee, that's a second year job. And so we're really trying to groom people and let make it clear to them that there could be a long term future here for them. And with that approach I really have no anxiety at all about the the long term future of the farm, with a big community support base of hundreds of eaters who are really motivated. If the farm ever needs help or understanding or to be defended on the public stage because of a development happening like we've got got a big support there and because we are so many managers, we're widely involved in all sorts of different spheres in the agricultural economy here in Quebec. From you know, if there's a seed group, Dan is involved, if there's something about Green maneurs, I'm involved. We're kind of constantly visible and, as such, loads of potential future farmers here about our farm when they're in stages or when they're in school and then they apply and work here and like, I think we're doing a good job on that level of making sure that we do everything right, or as much as possible, to to have the farm succeed and thrive well beyond what the five of us can actually do for it, right. So that's very exciting. Yeah, well, and one of the things that I noticed in when the why I reached out with you was your recent crowd funding campaign where you actually bought it. You bought a truck. That is going to be enviting. That's a what is it? I mean it's not a you're converting a diesel truck to electric right. So, yeah, we've been looking, we've needed we're a coop, so it takes us about three years to buy a vehicle because the decisionmaking process is that challenging and because there's nothing great available on the market. And I started tinkering with electric vehicles for our farm smaller scale tools about or years ago through a personal interest and a couple chance meetings with people who are already really good at this and who generously helped me the the doityourself. Electric vehicle crowd has the same insane level of mutual assistance that organic farmers do, where you'd be like, Hey, I know you've never met me, but do you want to mail me that part? Yeah, sure, probably, here's how you use it. Or do you want to meet me in...

...a parking lot in Verdon and I'll trade you batteries for a control? Or Yeah, sure, just beat my kids and I'll meet you there in half an hour. So it's been really fun it. It's technical work that I really like and that I'm able to pursue again because we're so many managers, each of us can can kind of have a bit more flexibility to pursue interests and projects that we probably wouldn't have the flex in our in our schedule to to get good at if we were trying to wear the seven hundred hats that a husband and wife have to wear in order to run a farm. We only have to wear a couple dozen hats each because there are so many of us, and so you can even pick up an extra happy like no, I want to learn. So and so you were successful. It was a mean you raise. Well, we're successfuls in a qualified fashion. The ELECTRAC can pain has been a massive qualified success in that the response to the request that we put out to our community was heard loud and clear. People got really excited about the prospect of a farm like ours being able to switch to fully electric delivery vehicle long before the big three or even the Europeans or Chinese, before anyone can actually sell me, sell us an electric truck, we're going to actually get out in front and demonstrate that it's possible by partnering with a Conversion Company That is another Little Quebec Success Story. Well, bigger than us by many very forms of reckoning, but they're they're really great, and I approached them. They have a conversion package for Ford trucks and I didn't think that they were going to be interested in doing a one off for a little farm it's not really helpful to them. They convert fleets of buses and they're doing all of videotron's service vans. They have they have work coming out their ears, they have clients lining up around the block. The only reason that I could see them doing it was if they thought it was a cool project. So I prepared a presentation and went met them in person and pitch them on it. And and you is like totally, we're in. We you know, we didn't get into building electric vehicles because we have no ideals. This is this is really exciting, like we would much rather do one truck for you then another school bus that goes to California. So we'll tuck it into the assembly roster somewhere. I don't know where we're going to fit you in, but we're going to make it happen. And then they advised me on truck specifics to for the best possible fit with their drivetrain and batteries, and we chose a larger truck than what we currently have so that it will be a big improvement and really from an ecological and net net environmental impact perspective. I love working with these guys because they are not trying to build a brand new truck. They are saying, bring us a Ford Cadaver, bring us a big, dumb Ford that is anyone can work on it. Parts are absolutely ubiquitous and it's only problem is a big gas meten that sucks up fuel like crazy. I just pulled the gas tank off of ours. It's almost as big as my car. It's just huge. The food but Allen fuel tank, which is like a rain barrel. That's a fifty five gallon drama. That much gasoline to push one of these trucks around. And there are millions of these trucks on the road, all just sucking back petroleum like it's going out of style, which it is, and they're if you can build a bolt in drive train, which is what ecotuned has done, then you can pluck one of those off the road, used, already depreciated, like the actual truck that we had to buy isn't worth much at all because it's a you know, it's a crummy truck. It sucked its uses too much fuel and Ford's been building them for ages and there. There's nothing really fantastic about it until you change the drive train. Then it's great, except that it's going to rust out in five years. Oh No, but a you going to do about that? You drop the drive train and you put it in another donor and the drive train and probably last three or four trucks. Oh really, that's how you're gonna do it? Wow, and know you. So you will, like in four years you're gonna have to bring it back to them to put in the new drive train. Yeah,...

...it takes them about four hours to move it from one or like maybe, maybe eight to move it from one truck to another. But we live in Quebec. If you've ever crawled under a car in Quebec that's more than five years old, you know that it's just a matter of time. And so you can't build a vehicle that's going to last forever unless we stop salting the roads. And if you know your vehicle's not going to last forever, but the expensive components of your electric drivetrain are good for a million kilometers, you do what equotuned is done and you make them. You make a module that can be swapped from one cadaver to the next. That's a great project. Wow. So it's, I think, orders of magnitude more ecologically responsible than Tesla's approach, which is to just put a hundred thousand dollars worth of brandnew everything. And what is it? Do you think it's going to last forever? No, it's going to be a rusted out, Really Expensive Testament to engineering that no one can fix twelve years down the road because it's going to have, you know, corroded wiring harnesses and a little bit of water is going to get into somewhere where it's not supposed to be and you just you can't beat entropy with engineering. You have to plan for it. So I'm I'm really thrilled to be pursuing that approach for the ecological intelligence of it, but also to to get an opportunity like I expect we're going to have to talk to people about this truck. Well, yeah, that's the goal. Is that I really want people to start thinking about the like what is the real footprint of our of our transportation solutions, and and why? How Ludicrous is it that you cannot yet buy a truck to do this very simple thing? Like we don't have huge demands. We drive from our farm, will go forty kilometers to a distribution point, empty the van and then drive home. We do that two or three times in a week. We have a couple longer trips here and there to go and pick up materials. But we don't need four hundred kilometers of range. We don't need a battery pack that's worth as much as a starter home. We just need a truck with the electric vehicle technology from ten years ago. We just want someone to sell us one, and no one's bothering to bring them to market. Like it's going to change rapidly in the next couple of years and Ford claims that you'll be able to buy a fully electric transit van from them next year, but I can't see them actually delivering them for at least two years because, and do you think that this company that you were talking about, do you think that they'll make this one of their projects so that they can actually do it from more than just you? Well, they can. They can ostensibly do it for anyone in that and they may be doing cube bodied work trucks rather than mini buses might become part of their business. I think that would be pretty cool. Yeah, I don't you're not the only group that needs that kind of operation. Yeah, absolutely, and interestingly, with the crowd funding campaign to come back to that. So we had this great idea. We convinced ecotooned to to do this with us. We figured out that that was the kind of vehicle that we wanted. We figured out financing and that, comparing it to a gas powered equivalent, the whole project, even after governmental support, was still going to cost us about thirty five or forty grand more than going with conventional gas or diesel powered equivalent. And we were gained so ready how much we need for the scale of our CSA. We need it and to have a truck that's reliable and is going to be good for five to seven years. We were looking at a purchase of about Fortyzero for a used truck, and so this represents for US effectively double that. But then the government grant eats a bit of it and we're left with a short fall or a discrepancy of in the order of twenty five, maybe thirtyzero. That we're okay with assuming, especially because we can spread it out over many years and if the if the drive train actually lasts through three truck bodies, it really will come out cheaper, which is neat. Hopefully that'll be the case. Yeah, but there's no guarantee of that. You know the we could run into problems. This is still a relatively new technology. Battery life may not...

...be seven years of maybe more like six. There are lots of variables that we can't but we're ready to take the risk and try to forge ahead with this as a as both a big step forward for our farm and as a fantastic example that this technology is here. It is mature enough to be on the road and it should be for all of these last mild delivery vehicles, which are ubiquitous. Once you start looking at box trucks, you realize that they are everywhere and they're in our city centers and they're the fleet. Average fuel economy on those vehicles is so bad and their fit for electric power is so good that the fact that fleet operators, for instance Canada Post, how many of these trucks, do you think? How many mail trucks do they have? Yeah, you know how many they put on electric for? No, come on, really pilot project. I asked them if they would sell me one of their retired cadavers and they told me to go screw that. They have they have channels established for this and she wouldn't tell me what the channels were, so I've been sending her links in my electruck pro program and hopes that she'll be embarrassed and like kind of both. Is a Crown Corporation. They have a fleet of tenzero some. There's no reason why they shouldn't be supporting this. That's and are there roots predictable, like do they know exactly how long it's going to take them every day? I think they do. Do they go back to a garage with three phase power? I think they do. Yeah, so the fact that there has been so little progress on this is really unfortunate and I think having an opportunity to bring that to people's attention will be good. But we also thought, you know, as part of the dialog about this project, why don't we see if we can also get people excited about it to the tune of a couple hundred bucks also to pitch in and and shrink that gap between what the gas option would have cost us and what the conversion with Ecotoone is going to cost us, and it'll give us a chance to maybe get some press, talk to some journalists about why we're doing this and what it means and bloody Gliyh Blah, and it'll it will give people who are excited about this project an opportunity to say, I'm so excited, here's fifty dollars and likely and then, well, you, you've been I know. Is it? The campaign finished it? It's kind of sh right. Yeah, campaign finished it. It ran for two weeks or ten days or something and ended on Earth Day, which we thought was really clever and we thought we would we thought we'd get some easy press from Journa journalists who are looking for an Earth Day story, and they did not bite and we're just flummocks. So whatever. Oh, that's right. Well, but two weeks is not long enough even to build the momentum. I'm surprised even your community all found out about it in two weeks. Well, it's so short. We kind of there's two weeks of funding collection. But the the idea with a crowdfunding campaign, as we learned in sort of learning all of this, is that you you build hype for a while beforehand and then you try to have a busy period with daily updates and little video snippets and getting to people, getting reminders to people and by having the more condensed fun collection. You create a level of excitement and not not urgency, but like people don't say, Oh, yeah, I should do that, I'm going to follow the link next week. Yeah, they're like, oh, but it's ending in three days. Okay, well, I'll just do that right now. Yeah. So I people who know crowdfunding better than US gave us advice. That was very helpful and we learned a lot and it was really fun and it was also something that we wanted to try to see how we can utilize a crowdfunding campaign for as a community building exercise where it's not so much about the money raised as it is about getting people to engage with our farm and get excited about a project. And Dan really thinks we should be taking one of our good ideas every year and running it as a crowdfunding campaign, because it does really appeal to people in a gift them engaged and gives them a sense of apatanals, like belonging to and they're like quite literally invested in the farm. And then, and then, when we mail them an ELECTRUC calf as their perk for having donated fifty or a hundred dollars or whatever, that tear of perks was at. Then they wear it around and they talk to people about it and it becomes like they're they get...

...a badge of belonging to this cool project that they're then proud to talk to people about, and it was really fun and the also, going through the list of all the donors, one thing that really surprised us was how much support and how much money we got from our fellow farmers, friends who are running other farms, who absolutely don't necessarily have two hundred fifty dollars to donate to, like they have a truck that needs repairs. Yeah, but they were stepping up and telling us how excited they were and donating money and we're like Whoa, okay, so there's there's definitely hunger for this. And also, several of them said to me, well, yeah, you're the Guinea pig. We all want electric trucks. You're helping us to figure out how to make it happen. Like we're all organic farmers with deep ecological motivations. Of course we all want to retire our diesel or our gas delivery vehicle. That's why we're encouraging you. Yeah, well, that's why I was asking you. Do you see this happening soon, because it's like I can think of a four or five trucks and four or five trucks that could be replaced basically in the next four or five years, just writing our area. Oh yeah, yeah, and the terrible thing about operating vehicles in Quebec, with all of the propensity for road salt, is that any truck that's five years old is only five years from its end of service life, and so it's it's a constant treadmill and if we can get at least some of the some of it to be less disposable, that would be be fantastic. So when do you get your truck? Like the you've done no funding campaign. What happens next? So we managed to raise the target money and then a little bit more, and then since then we've been had a bit more money trickle in from from business sponsors, folks that suppliers and and other sympathizers who we part way through, had the idea to not just let people get their their name on the truck as a supporter, but we would allocate some space for business logos and, Lo and behold, several of our friends were like, well, yeah, I want my business logo on the truck. Here's an extra two hundred bucks. Fabulous. Yeah, we ended up exceeding our target by I don't know, I think our target was twenty Twentyzero. We ended up at twenty three when it closed and it may have crept up to almost twenty five since then. So we've really closed the gap and ultimately the project still took a lot of time the the campaign, but it was really meaningfully like it's a big contribution to to making the conversion project affordable. And now our challenge is waiting on profoundly disrupted global supply chains so that all of the parts necessary for the conversion and arrived in Vagen. So we went and bought a truck and it's sitting here on the farm and started doing little repairs and modifications on it. But we haven't we haven't had it got a fixed date from ecotuned as to when they will be able to actually do the conversion, and it looks like instead of it being mid summer, like late spring was the most ambitious target, and then midsummer and now it's sounding more like fall. So it looks like just in time for the fit of a coult yeah, we're going to be like. Next spring is going to be the triumphant unveiling starting the season. That'll give us time to get all the graphics done and I'm trying to cut apart the rear end of the truck to install a hydraulic lift gate so that we can move palettes on and off. That's go so now, and at least I'm not under the gun for that particular project. Go knowing that, but I think we may actually put it back on the road and run it as a gas vehicle for the second half of this year. Even though it burns more fuel than our current truck, it's also not rusting apart and it's also bigger and it has all these other benefits that we why we chose it. It would be a shame to not get any of those benefits this year. So I think we probably are going to put it back on the road as a gas powered vehicle and run it that way until it can be converted in the fall. Right, right. Well, so that's axay. It's unfortunate, for the sake of the kind of enthusiasm and timeliness that all of these contributions came in, that we can't really like deliver the final punch of actually having the truck rolling with no fuel, and...

...we would like to. But boy, if you try to source anything from disparate parts of the world, you try to build something that has parts from all over, it's not easy right now. And the well, yeah, but it means you get to keep communicating with these people regularly. Yeah, and it means that you're building a and when you do do the launch of the truck, maybe they will be things will be opened up and you can actually do it in person. I think there's there's maybe a silver lining there where it will be a little bit more of a public event when when we finally get to it. We just have to manage to find the time to keep the communications channels open, even though the farming season has now kind of been apolized our our energies. But you sort of tied in two of my questions into one, because I was going to ask about successes and struggle. Isn't that sort of a success? That's now turning into a bit of a struggle, but that will be abut multiple you know, you're you're sort of using those resilience muscles a little more and the electric campaign I think it. It was a fascinating project to run this crowdfunding campaign, but also came with, you know, some some new be errors and things that we didn't understand, and so it's been a great learning process. We of course wish we could have done everything absolutely perfectly and that we could be more on the ball about certain things. So it was a challenging undertaking to run a really successful crowdfunding campaign that we could be proud of and where we felt like we were we're giving back enough sort of enthusiasm and excitement and entertainment value for the people who are generously contributing their their time and money and their excitement. But I think it's something that we're likely to repeat for some other kind of novel project that people can get excited about. And do you have tips for other people running camp similar campaigns? Gosh, it's more I would say find I'm not enough of an expert to give good advice, but there are lots of people out there who have run camp multiple successful crowdfunding campaigns and there are probably even good online resources guides to, you know, the first time guide to running a successful crowdfunding campaign. You can learn a lot by rousing. You know, if you spend five hours reading all sorts of campaigns on a couple of different crowdfunding sites, you'll learn an enormous amount by seeing what others do, what they do well, how you feel, what resonates with you. So researching by looking at others was, I think, our main target. And then pull together. Don't try to run it Solo, pull together a group with different talents and backgrounds. We involved my mother in law very heavily in the crowdfunding campaign. She has a background in TV and film production and that was massively helpful and she always works for the farm some, but she was really excited to to be on board for the ELECTROC campaign and it was a good fit. And someone with with non farming skills can be can make themselves available sometimes as a support gesture for the farm. But definitely try to pull in a bunch of players from different backgrounds in order to do all the things that we just did a crowd funding campaign too, because we're pulling a we're doing an APP Montreal a moments where we put recipes and products of Quebec and and places that you can buy them all in one APP and we found similar things as you did. The filmmaker was like the crucial part to it and the we were we raised much less, but we were successful to and it was pretty exame. But we did it for thirty days, though I can't imagine doing only fourteen. I think that would have been really tough. While we planned it out over kind of we had a three month timeline with all of our targets in order to condense the donor period into into the two weeks, and then ultimately it ended up being a couple people donated before it was open and people continued donating after it was closed, but the bulk of it was effectively work to condense it into that time. Yeah, yeah, and and it was also a really good marketing process for us as well, because the people that we connected with our people that are really fascinated about the APP and they actually want to be part of it, and so and and,...

I mean you get lots of friends and family involved in what you're doing as well. So we found it to be really super experienced to from from that point of view. So I think that people can, I mean, and we also discovered that every whoever's doing the crowdfunding campaign makes it different like every no matter. We tried to copy other people, and we but it's still turned out to be our absolutely own thing, like it's sort of it ends up being a reflection of your personal tastes and what you're good at. Yeah, and the thing the mistakes that you make. And there were a couple things that we learned that you know. You you need to name your perks really fun things, just because it makes it more fun for people who were reading through them, and it also makes it more fun for you as you're thinking about what you can give people and what would be a way of defining it. That match is the whole theme of the campaign. Yeah, it's stuff like that is fun too. But yeah, I was so inspired by yours because I thought it was really fun. I thought you did a great video. It's got fun to hear that your mother in law with the one who is in charge of it. He directed that observing eleven year old daughter off camera as script girl, prompting me sometimes, and it would sa. It was really fun to also have a project to work on with her. She had such a blast. She would send me three or four emails and night to be like, don't worry, you don't have to respond, but I'm just this is going really well. I'm having such fun. That's great. Oh my gosh, that's really cool. So that leak, I guess. The other something that you said, which I would say is the best advice for the crowd funding campaign, is to make it into it a project for your organization that reaches well beyond the dollar value, where like that, the money is kind of part of the project, but it's really about building enthusiasm and momentum and opening communications and getting people to learn more about your farm and or about your enterprise and care more about it and to so that the the financial donation is a token, but what you really want is engagement and and that you shouldn't also maybe don't set the dollar value as high as you would ideally want it like, and set the threshold low so that you're really engaging with as many people as possible. Yeah, yeah, no, I think that that's a that's a true point as well. And also the communication, and you reminded me actually, because we're also having a situation because we're doing a little slower than we anticipated. So we're going to use this summer to use some of the funding to buy get the photographs ready, and so our donors won't actually get the Beta version of the APP until September and then we'll launch it next after they can come a comment on it and everything. Then we'll launch the actual APP in next spring, which is later than we originally anticipated as well, but we just thought it was much better to do it a little bit more slowly and do it more properly so that when people get it they actually are excited about what they get. Yeah, yeah, right, and publishing an unpolished version in order to hit it. Hit it. I think the later than anticipated is going to be a pretty common refrain for the next day, the current here. So people one they'll be tired of hearing it, but understanding exactly. And so then just to go on to the because we're just about finished on time. I want to go. I always finish with the same question which, you know, we didn't really have a segue because we weren't talking really about identity with all of this, except in terms of your identity as an owner in a cut in a community business. But I'm it's strangely I've developed a an aversion to the owner term. I feel like it doesn't it doesn't work and it doesn't fit our situation and I prefer to think of at least myself. I don't know how the other team members necessarily see it, but I prefer steward and I feel like it also ties better to my vision of what our purpose is here on the on the land that is certainly not mine. I'm not sure it really belongs to any entity called Canada. I'm not particularly heing on the way Canadian history has carved, but the landscape here and there's a title deed to the farm and the dirt under the House that I live in doesn't necessarily mean to me that it belongs to me. I'm not sure that I own much other than my some level of integrity and maybe a little bit of affection from my spouse...

...and children and others. But the the idea of owning farm land is a little bit crazy to me. Like hit. If there was ever a common a Commons that should belong widely, it's productive capacity. You know, if land is being used to grow food, it's obviously kind of feed more than just me. If I'm bearing responsibility and risk and putting a lot of the energy into growing that food, than I need to have decisionmaking power so that I can feel like I'm in charge of my own activities, but at least I think that's necessary. But I don't think that the land needs to belong to me and I don't think like I my identity is more tied to the work I do then the place I live, certainly more than it is tied to the imaginary lines on maps and the names that have been applied to regions and the political divisions that surround them. I'm much more interested in learning more about the history of how this land was used and what it looked like before Europeans arrived, and to find out which which groups of native people habitually use these lands and what they are, kinds of settlement patterns were, and something that we actually want to start as a research project, contacting local bands and doing more research so that we can start to properly integrate an accurate acknowledgement statement into our farm materials, both online and statement, of acknowledging that the land that we are caring for and doing our best to be responsible stewards of is unseeded lands, that that was effectively stolen and that we're trying to learn more about the real history of Canadian settlement so that we can acknowledge it when we're talking about our farm, which is, to me, is more like a piece of land that we have the good fortune to be entrusted with and that we're doing our best to take care of it and use it in a game pull way to feed as many local families as we can so that they don't get their food from somewhere else that is taking less good care of the land. Right, right. So, what do you think of when you think of the word Canadian and how do you do do you think of yourself as a Canadian by happenstance? Yes, there are elements of the Canadian identity that I think are are nice. They think Canadian word as they're they're part. For the most part, I think that Canadians have a positive self image when they think of what it means to be Canadian. But it's not a as a label. I don't think that I can sign on because it's a d an apologetically Canadians. I know I don't have to be. I didn't prepare a coherent response to this, as you can tell. Actually, I think it's very coherent what you just said. I think it's a very important statement. I grew up in the part of Northern Ontario that's very forested and was lucky enough to have a kind of degree of significant amount of wilderness in my upbringing and the the sparseness of Canada's settlement patterns everywhere other than Southern Ontario is truly amazing and wonderful and the way that that colors everyone's upbringing and livelihoods and interactions with the world that they live in is a neat part of being Canadian. But I feel like I might have as much in common with Scandinavians from a rural setting as I would or would like people living in rural Montana. I think it's the landscape more than than the political boundaries and the the culture and history, though I am also very fond of the the mishmash that the cultural the sort of historicity of Quebec and Ontario and Upper Canada and Lower Canada...

...in this wonderful the way it is evolved nowadays into this Hilarious Mishmash of cultures in Quebec and the degree to which we are mangling both languages constantly and mashing together. My daughter yesterday said we're at soccer practice and that's like what are they doing? She's like, Oh, by SALTOP ended on what they're running, then salt out and gunny to make it honey. She just said Salt oppend is one that's really that's out there. So yeah, the creative grammar and sentence structure and bilingual communities in Quebec I love and I get just endless enjoyment out of it. I like language and I like I'm definitely more at ease in English, but I love that my French is still getting better in my S. every year I'm a little bit. I'm learning more vocabulary and and there are certain very pretenses that I refuse to learn because they're too stupid. But but I and man are were ball detic. Our Kid, our daughters now getting homework in that stuff and we're like no, we don't do those tenses. There is not a verb tense you need to know unless you're going to become an author, and I doubt if you're going to become a French language author. So well, and then flush it. But it's good too. It's good to recognize it because then you can read will tare. Yes, I feel I would manage to read it, but I'm not going to try to retain it. Any other more important things to learn and retain, like well, you're busy feeding people to well, thank you very much. I really appreciate your time and I appreciate the opportunity to learn about your project and I think if you want to give me some of the photos, like you said, that would be great because I'd like to put them on this show notes page a link to the campaign as well, because I think that stays in perpetuity. People can see the video and they can actually enjoy it and if there's Oh, I didn't ask you. Actually, before we finished, I didn't ask you. Are you part of the open seed campaign as well? Or some of your seeds open open owned openly? All of our seeds are open pollinated and we're signatories of the safe seed pledge and all of the seed that we sell is certified organic and I'm pretty sure there are no hybrids whatsoever offered in our catalog. So everything is open pollinated, everything is certified organic. And Yeah, from the outset we've been yeah, because I wanted to make sure that people know that, because I think it's a big deal to those of us who are trying to do farming in whatever since hem to work on something. The pandemic kind of toss things into bit of turmoil. But we think that it's kind of rare to have a farm like ours where a certain number of our crops, where we produce the seed and then sell it or transfer it from one one entity to the other and then we grow it out, harvest it and give it to people to eat. That, to have a seed to table production all on the same farm, all sort of fed organic, is probably not that common thing and and worth celebrating. So we've been trying to think of ways that we can try to bring that to people's attention and talk a little bit about that in the coming years. So yeah, yeah, well, I think that's a great mission because I think that turn to cell really is known for that. And thanks for me, thanks for all your work too. It's great to sort of be your one of our mentors that, even if we didn't actually tell you, though I said we're very, very, very happy to have had the opportunity to settle here for our lifespan and have the opportunity to manage some of this land as responsibly as we can, and that we had the good fortune to choose to do it in a group and then to find a business structure and adapt our operating systems to be able to continue doing it as a group has brought us so many dividends that that I can almost forget thousands of hours of meetings that we spend. And you have a meeting this afternoon too. I mean that's like, it's great. I really appreciate your time, but I say thank you for listening to unapologetically Canadian. This episode was brought to you by city Gardeners Dot Sea, the gardening club for city gardeners.

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