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Farmers’ Profiles: Murray Meadows Farm

Name Farm: Murray Meadows Farm
Location: Portugal Cove       Open Since: 2012
Farmers: Evan Murray & Brian Kowalskii
Contact: Ph: 709-689-0775. For orders: 709-689-0775
Email: farmer@murraymeadows.ca
Facebook’s page Website: www.murraymeadows.ca
Area used: 2 Acres, Unheated Greenhouses (8000 sq ft)
Main crops offered at the Market:
Kale, lettuce, chard, cabbage, herbs, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers, fennel, root and bulb crops (potatoes, carrots, garlic, radish, turnip, beets, garlic, green onions) among others.
Brief history of the Farm by Brian Kowalski:
“Patrick Murray bought the Murray farm around 1820. At the time it included Murray’s Pond (which was later sold to the country club). It started out as a subsistence farm, but later expanded into a commercial vegetable operation and dairy, run by the Murray’s for multiple generations. We still find smooth beach rocks in the soil from when the farm used seaweed and caplin as fertilizer. According to researchers from MUN, the farm has the oldest root cellar in Newfoundland still in continuous use: since 1820 the farm is a designated “Century Farm” by the NL Agricultural Historical Society.
Most of the commercial vegetable production stopped 30 years ago but Evan Murray and Brian Kowalski started it again in 2012 using organic approved methods. The soil was rehabilitated using rye grass and clover cover crops and with limestone mined in Western Newfoundland. The area was fenced to keep out the moose and greenhouses were assembled in the first year. The first full year of crop production was in 2013.”
Times of Operation:
Open:  June to November
Closed to the public: December to May.
Murray Meadows Farm produces all its crops from imported seeds, some of which are organic seeds, such as: carrots, beets, kale, pea shoots, arugula, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers and beans. In order to maximize their space and resources, they grow outdoors (kale Winterbor, carrots Nantes, beets, turnip, radish, fennel, cabbage) and indoors using small greenhouses (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, arugula, pea shoots, among others).  This farm starts selling at the Market on the very first day (Saturday June 6th).

Crops’ Calendar

Production practices:
The farm has been working the soil using organic practices since 2012, and currently has near balanced soil in terms of macro-nutrients. They don’t typically need high amounts of fertilization. When fertilization is needed, they utilized certified organic fertilizers, which follow Canadian Organic Standards and belong to the authorized list of products by OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute). They increase the soil’s organic matter using leaves and grass grown in other fields to mulch their crops. This farm produces their own compost teas to enrich the biological activity of the soil, using locally produced compost and their own.
No Phosphorus is added due to already adequate levels in the soil. Nitrogen and Potassium are supplied by additions of organic matter, organic seed meals, and other organic approved natural fertilizers.
For micronutrients, this farm uses natural sources such as fish/seaweed. They avoid any use of inorganic fertilization. Irrigation water and field soil are tested for better nutrition management.
Pest Control:
Murray Meadows believes a diverse plant and insect population, safe from pesticide use, is the best defence against pest problems. They haven’t had any serious pest problems and whenever they have insects present, they use biological and netting controls. They also plant specific flowers and herbs that discourage non-beneficial insects from establishing themselves. In addition, they utilize crop rotations and hand picking for insects, slugs and snails. The size of their production area allows them to keep everything under control and detecting possible issues on time. This farm doesn’t use any pesticides or herbicides. Weeds are removed manually as well.
More information:
Murray Meadows Farm offers a weekly produce package through the harvest season. If you are interested in becoming a member of their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), order their products or learn about their growing methods, don’t hesitate to contact Brian Kowalski or SJFM.
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