After a tour of local farms last year Mike Kozlowski was inspired to provide fresh, chemical-free vegetables to the Red Deer area.
The tour consisted of 18 local farms where Kozlowski learned about the agricultural practices on a variety of different scales.
“It was this experience in Kenya that I had where I was eating dinner with a family and they asked me what my shamba is like and I said well I don’t have one, they were confused and they didn’t understand the grocery store,” said Kozlowski.
Shamba is the word used to describe the farm one may own in Kenya.
It was this experience that prompted his curiosity about where his food came from.
“I don’t think I’ve ever eaten any food that I’ve know where it’s come from, so I decided when I got back to Canada to learn about food,” said Kozlowski.
He is thrilled to be starting his own farm called Steel Pony Farm.
What sets Kozlowski apart from some of the other local farmers is that he plans to sell his goods by bike and trailer.
“I guess I have an image of me standing with my friends and employees at the food drop box site and having this great community of people coming to pick up their boxes and stopping to get to know each other,” said Kozlowski.
One of his goals is to “rehumanize” the community with everybody coming together to create a little bit of a sense of joy and reconnection.
Kozlowski chuckled in talking about problems he foresees for his farm.
“I’m having a heck of a time figuring out an economic way to keep the deer out of my yard because fencing is so expensive.”
It’s such a small problem but could really affect the productivity of Steel Pony Farms if a solution is not found in a timely manner.
“There’s no guide that says how to start a farm so a lot of this stuff is me doing the best I can, contacting the people I know and using their expertise,” said Kozlowski.
In this way, his farm tour was very beneficial. He learned many different ways that people are currently farming and reducing their carbon footprint.
One of the farms Kozlowski went to even avoids mechanization by continuing the use of draft horses to do the groundwork.
“Part of what that journey was all about for me was learning how not to be totally green and idealistic but to actually have some skills and experience that’ll help me get where I’m going.”
Kozlowski has toured a lot of Canada looking at farms and the way they run in order to figure out what aspects he would like to incorporate into his own endeavour.
He recalls a day when he was in a poor mood riding his bike from farm to farm and it was raining and cold. He had already travelled quite a ways when he spotted a moose eating in a field.
“As I rode by he looked up at me and just started running beside my bike for an entire quarter section.”
Kozlowski thought this was so out of the ordinary and it struck him that the moose would not have done this with a car. It reaffirmed for him the way that he is choosing to live and transport himself and his goods.
“The way I’m doing things is peaceful and calm and smooth and not disrupting the flow of life.”
Steel Pony Farms will be providing 51 types of vegetables and herbs from the ordinary to the uncommon. Kozlowski is hoping to plant his first crop in late April and start seeding and transplanting in early May.
Kozlowski is hoping his first food box program will provide 16 weeks of food starting June 27 and going to mid or late October.
There are only six or seven farms in Alberta who are using a similar community supported system.
“This is for community members who are interested in this type of idea and want to support local farmers and make that commitment at the beginning of the season.”
For more information or to register for the food box program visit steelponytour.ca.