More hobby farms cropping up in rural areas


Published on August 15, 2014
Cecil and Stacie MacLeod and their kids Nate, Ellie and Bella at their hobby farm in West New Annan. Families like the MacLeods use hobby farming not only as a mode of self-sufficiency, but as a way to nurture close family ties and provide valuable lessons for their young children. SUBMITTED PHOTO

‘I hope to give my children the same foundation I received from my grandfather’

WEST NEW ANNAN - As commercial agricultural farms slowly disappear from the countryside, people are shifting their focus to buying local produce in a moral increase of consumeristic integrity and supporting smaller hobby farms. Many are taking to a route of self-sustainment, producing their own goods and resources on a smaller scale. Lately it is not uncommon to see chickens running around one’s yard, or vegetables growing behind their house. Nowadays everyone can be their own Laura Ingalls.

“People want to know where their food comes from now,” says Cecil MacLeod, who recently moved his family of five to the North Shore. “It’s a growing trend as cities grow bigger and markets become more popular.”

In 2012, the MacLeods left the bustling city of Halifax for a quiet place in the country with hopes of having an entirely self-sustaining property. So far the family produces their own vegetable crops and perennial plants, both of which were doubled in size this season. They have also begun work on their West New Annan property to include a chicken coup and a space to raise pigs for meat. The family is starting to regain control of their apple trees and berry bushes as well, which were previously left in disarray.

“I hope to give my children the same foundation I received from my grandfather,” says MacLeod. “It’s nothing to see my children out weeding and filling wheelbarrows. It’s a team effort that keeps us all close and healthy.”

The family says they are not looking for wealth or recognition from this venture; their families and community are all they need.

“The goal will be reached when my children come home some day long into the future… and say ‘thank you for the way you raised me, thank you for the values you instilled in us.’”

Twenty kilometres north of the MacLeods is another hobby farm-in-process, co-operated by Vanessa Haugg and her family. Near Tatamagouche, the 93-acre farm has everything from rabbits, horses, chickens, dogs, and occasionally the odd pig.

“It’s nothing fancy,” says Haugg. “We have a lot of land, and we might as well put it to good use.”

Although the family-oriented hobby farm is mostly for self-use, Haugg says that one day they hope to make more products available for profit.

“It’s not a good source of income right now,” she admits. “We are still getting this set up and cleaned up.”

Haugg and her family have started selling farm-fresh eggs, and hope to use their horses for riding lessons at some point, but for now they are busy travelling the Maritimes with their prize-winning rabbits, and preparing for the next step of their endeavour.

Jordon Sprague is  a fourth-year journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto. His hometown is Wentworth.