“Once upon a time…”

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Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

In the English language, this opening phrase is a signpost indicating a wondrous tale is sure to follow.
I discovered it on the “About” page of Pure Conscience a business based in Bristol.

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

In the English language, this opening phrase is a signpost indicating a wondrous tale is sure to follow.
I discovered it on the “About” page of Pure Conscience a business based in Bristol.
It’s these words which compelled me – during these challenging COVID times – to write about Gem Villavicencio’s farm, Pure Conscience. She writes, “Our biointensive farm will use only a fraction of the resources used up in conventional farming to produce the same amount of produce – we believe this is a better way to
experience food.”
Serendipity
I met Villavicencio at the pop-up art sale at Jennifer and Scott Judd’s Little
Red Wagon Winery last November. Villavicencio told me about her soaps, garlic, honey, organic eggs and other produce she and her family grow, make, and sell.
It’s funny how serendipitous things are. Last week, my Pontiac Journal editor Allyson Beauregard asked whether this week’s topic could pay tribute to Pontiac farmers. As you know, the paper usually celebrates the Shawville Fair in this edition, but due to COVID-19, the Fair has been cancelled for 2020.
Immediately I agreed, then wondered what to feature.
Then along came an intriguing post from Villavicencio on Facebook, featuring photographs of yaks.
These triggered a memory, returning me to Nepal where, “once upon a time”, my husband Eric and I hiked the demanding thirteen-day Helambu, Langtang and Gosainkund Trek, north of Kathmandu.
Yaks in Bristol, you ask?
Yes, well I asked myself the same thing, too. First, what’s a yak?
Think of Highland cattle. Whereas the hardy Scottish Highland cattle breed has long red hair and broad horns, yaks are usually black, yet similarly horned. Yaks are bred for meat, wool, cheese and milk, where the meat is said to have less saturated fat (3%) and 40% more protein than beef.
In Nepal, although we ascended a mountain pass that was more than 15,000 feet high, we never glimpsed a yak. To my memory, our Sherpa guides said these creatures do best at altitudes higher than 15,000 feet. Now clearly, that was incorrect, because today, these woolly beasts are thriving in Québec’s Gaspésie and Eastern Townships – and soon will be in the Pontiac.
As I write this column, Villavicencio is in the Gaspésie, learning about yak management prior to shipping some home to Pure Conscience.
The tale is to be continued…
Like all our growing set of young, entrepreneurial, organic farmers here in
our beautiful Pontiac, Villavicencio’s story is one of vision married to extremely hard work, a deep love of the land, and a dedication to serving community.
Soon, yaks will live in Bristol. Once they’re settled in, it’s my hope to meet them – a personal encounter that I’ve been waiting for since that 1984 Nepalese trek.
Saluting our farmers
Although there are far, far too many dedicated agri-workers to mention here, I wish to recognize just a few whose products and advice Eric and I enjoy. So here’s a nod of our appreciation to Netherleigh Farms, Rolling Acres Natural Beef, and Andrew Simms Farm for delicious meats; Ferme Cedar Creek Farm for trout; Domaine de Pontiac Village and Little Red Wagon Winery for wines…and so many more, including the Judd family’s Glad Crest Farm which has been producing milk for four generations, and who tirelessly explain the dairy business to me.
Want to venture out and meet some of our producers this summer, and purchase freshly-picked vegetables, herbs and also, perhaps a bottle of wine? Ron Hodgins is hosting the Pontiac Farmers Market at his R & R Farm, 776- 7th Line, West Clarendon, Saturday mornings. Says Hodgins, “We usually finish on Thanksgiving weekend.”
Here in the Pontiac, residents have a deep, lasting respect for those who
grow our food. Our farmers of today continue this ongoing tale of the love of the land, perseverance, and dedication to community.
Thank-you, all producers. Whether you’ve been here for generations or are new to the Pontiac, we salute you and welcome you to our spectacular environment and shared sense of community.
fletcher.katharine@gmail.com and view her art at facebook.com/KatharineFletcherArtist/