Ark Gardens (http://arkgardens.com/) is a small veganic farm in east-central Alberta in the County of Minburn. They are an off-grid farm, deriving their power from wind and solar, and they are focused on growing fruits that are high in phytonutrients.
Growing on less than 1 acre, Ark Gardens concentrates on growing dark-colored fruits for their health benefits. They also make herbal teas from the fruits and their leaves, as well as tinctures. Growing a wide variety of fruits, the greatest concentration is on black currents, tart cherries, honeyberries, dark purple grapes, jostaberries, and dark purple sandcherries, for their neutraceutical properties. They also grow apples, plums, saskatoon berries, gooseberries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, and pears. They use a thick tree mulch on the fruit trees, for the purpose of keeping the soil cool and delaying flowering in the springtime, as late frosts can damage developing flowers. They grow heirloom vegetables, saving the seeds, and also propagate some of their own fruit plants.
Their soil is a mix of hard-packed silt, clay, and rocks. The farmers use comfrey tea, vegetable compost, and organic alfalfa pellets as the main sources of fertility. In the propagation phrase, they use a 50/50 mix of peat and vermiculite. For potting soil, they have contacted companies to learn which potting soils are free from animal products. The main vegetable and strawberry patch, as well as the greenhouse, have raised beds that are filled with hand-mixed veganic soil that includes vermiculite, peatmoss, seaweed compost, and alfalfa pellets.
To repel insects, they use homemade mixes that consist mainly of garlic, hot peppers, olive oil, and peppermint soap. All of the fruits are harvested by hand, then hand washed and hand processed, using only food-grade peroxide for cleaning the fruit and utensils.
The farmers believe that veganic growing is equivalent to “organic squared” or organic², the next level of organic growing. They chose veganic methods because they would like to develop a closed system, free from imports, without raising animals. They also find that veganic is the safest method of growing fruits and vegetables. It also falls under the golden rule: do unto others, as you would have them do unto you, or, grow for others, as you would have them grow it for you. For the farmers at Ark Gardens, all the plants are gifts that are to be taken care of to the best of their abilities. Rather than focusing on maximizing yields, they place importance on the origins of the products they use and the way that they grow.
Ark Gardens incorporates sustainable methods for energy, water, heat, and housing. Completely off the grid, their power is derived from the sun and wind. They have a little over 1500 gallons of rain water catchment, which is augmented with well water if needed. They designed and built a simple passive solar house, which heats itself on sunny days even during the frigid Canadian winter. For additional heating, they use wood, mainly deadfall collected from nearby sources, and the ash is returned to the fruit and vegetable beds the following season.