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Farmers’ Profiles: Hugh’s Pond Farm

Name Farm: Hugh’s Pond Farm
Location: : St. Phillip’s     Open Since: 1980
Farmers: Leo White-Maureen White
Contact: Ph: 709-753-4034
Email: leopwhite@hotmail.com
Area used: 1.5 acres. Outdoors.
Main crops offered at the Market:
Garlic (Music, Parade), Onions (red, white, yellow), Beets (Moneta), Carrots (Resistafly), Lettuce (Red Romaine, Butterhead, romaine), Spinach(Tyee), Radish, Rhubarb, Zucchini (Green, Gold), Cilantro (Genisis), Sweet Basil, Green Onions, Green Beans (Bush), Swiss Chard (Green, Red), Shallots
Brief history of the Farm by Leo White:
“I purchased some land in St. Phillip’s in the mid-1970s mainly to develop a garden for our family.  I was interested in growing vegetables and in knowing what was used in growing them.  At first I had only one field that measured about 75 feet by 50 feet.  However it became apparent that I would have plenty of extra produce.  The remainder of the land was covered by mature forest. One winter there was a severe ice storm followed by high winds and most of the big trees fell down.  Following this I decided to clear the area and see what could be done with the land.  The result was 2 more fields of 75 feet by 150 feet and 25 feet by 80 feet.  It took me about 10 years to clear these fields, level them, remove the rocks and build up the soil.  I left some forest around the fields and also some large open areas for grass and wild flowers.  In the meantime I was growing vegetables on the first field and built up a small clientele but I had no idea of how I would be able to use the 2 new fields.   However around the same time that these fields were nearly ready I became aware of the St. John’s Farmers Market (SJFM) and looked into this as an outlet for increased production.  I visited the market and spoke with the manager and decided that I would become a regular vendor.  This was around 2007 and I have sold my produce mainly through the SJFM since then.  During the period that I was developing the new fields I moved steadily towards organic methods for growing vegetables and added large quantities of organic amendments to the soil before the fields were ever planted.  I used the rocks that I removed to build a tractor road around the 3 fields.  I purchased large quantities of peat, limestone and greensand which are natural sources of potassium and phosphate rock, a natural source of phosphorus to improve the structure and fertility of the soil.  I add a large amount of new organic amendments each year.  
For example I collect about 20,000 pounds of coffee grounds each year for use in sheet composting and direct composting.  Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen and also provide smaller amounts of potassium and phosphorus and improve the texture of the soil.  Today the soil is rich and healthy and can support a crop without the addition of any fertilizer other than compost made on the farm.  Hugh’s Pond Farm (HPF) is totally natural and relies on rainfall for all watering needs.  I don’t use a greenhouse but I do grow some transplants and purchase some as well.   By the use of cultural methods, hand picking and companion planting I avoid the use of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides.  I only grow vegetables that can be grown without the use of insecticides.  Even with this careful approach there is still some insect damage but not enough to spoil the crop.  For example I grow carrots that are resistant to carrot fly and plant them in a part of the field that was not used for carrots for at least 3 years.  They are companion planted with leeks, onion and garlic so that carrot fly does not get established.  Crop rotation and cover planting are also important.  For example in 2016 I will only plant out one third of my biggest field.  The remaining two thirds will be planted with a cover crop and sheet composted with coffee grounds and leaf mulch.  Next year the section that was sheet composted will be planted out.  I have appreciated being able to bring my produce to the SJFM.   I have found that the patrons of the SJFM are more interested in produce that has not been treated with insecticides rather than produce that looks perfect.  My carrots may be a bit crooked looking and the odd one may be slightly insect damaged but they are very safe to eat and very nutritious.  The same applies to other crops such as garlic, lettuce, Swiss chard, potatoes, and lettuce.  All produce that I bring to the market is grown on HPF.  In relative terms this is a very small farming operation and all the work is done by myself or my wife, Maureen who helps with planting, harvesting and getting the produce to the market.  I have investigated becoming certified as organic but for such a small operation it is not financially feasible, nor is it necessary.  I follow good safe farming practice and have had no difficulty selling the extra produce.   We still have enough potatoes to last the winter and usually carrots until Christmas”. Leo White
Times of Operation:
 Hugh’s Pond Farm operates from June to November and attends the St. John’s Farmers’ Market from early July to end of October.

Crops’ Calendar

Hugh's Pond Farm - Crops Calendar
Production practices:
In comparison to other farmers of the Market, Leo White grows the crops exclusively outdoors and these are irrigated only with rain water. This helps to keep a clean production but the timing is 100% depending on weather fluctuations. This explains why Hugh’s Pond farm is attending the Market on seasonal basis. The crops are propagated mostly by seeds, sets of bulbs and transplants. All the propagation material is imported with the exception of Leeks (local transplant), Garlic Parade (own seeds/bulbs) and Rhubarb (perennial). The seeds are organic if they are available.  
The nutrition for all the crops is based on own sources for macro-nutrients. Some of the materials used are own compost, coffee ground, leaf mulch, limestone, annual rye grass cover, egg shells, wood ash, among others. Hugh’s Pond Farms doesn’t use chemical inorganic fertilizers as main source for macro-nutrients as they value the natural nutrition by using clean methods.
Pest and Weeds Control:
All the weeds are removed manually by hand picking or mechanically. The pest control is based on a cultural management avoiding any use of pesticides and removing manually any potential presence of pests. Hugh’s Pond farm doesn’t use chemical pest control.
Community Involvement:
Hugh’s Pond Farm is a member of Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture.  
Like several of our regular farmers, Leo White has become popular among the SJFM customers for his kindness and commitment to bring fresh produce with a high level of nutrition and taste. As he explains, they have been working the land for several years paying attention to natural nutrition as one of the main focus.  
For more information feel free to contact Leo White by email (leopwhite@hotmail.com) or phone 709-753-4034.
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