As a child, Emily Shapiro wanted to be a farmer. This was unusual since her family had no background in farming! But she liked the cute fuzzy animals, getting her hands dirty and growing plants. In university, she studied geography and rural extension, and eventually moved from Ontario to rural New Brunswick for work. She eventually found a life partner – John Best – who not only grew up on a mixed-livestock farm, but also wanted to continue farming as an adult.
After renting out land in New Brunswick for a few years, Emily and John decided to buy a 300-acre piece of land in 2013. Located on the Becaguimec stream, they called their fields Becaguimec Farm and chose to do organic farming to preserve the environment.
They divided the land as follows: 70 acres of the land is organically farmed by them, 100 acres is for wood-thinning trees, 90 acres is rented out to a conventional farmer (who is not allowed to grow potatoes since these root vegetables require a lot of pesticides) and 40 acres is restored wetland. Becaguimec Farm is a corridor for migrating birds and home to wood turtles!
Initially, they wanted to dairy farm, but they quickly realized that the future of dairy farming is uncertain in the Maritimes. Nonetheless, they quickly acquired cows, pigs and chickens. As of now, they have 12 cattle – which includes dairy cows, beef cattle and dairy bulls for rose veal; 5 pigs and one boar (they also expect 3 litters of piglets this summer!); 75 chickens; 60 turkeys; 6 guinea fowls (great for insect control). They sell veal, pork, chicken, turkey and grains. They are currently growing barley, hay, soy, oats, sunflowers, silage and birdseeds. They also grow vegetables, but only for their own consumption.
Emily and John find themselves lucky to have a community of farmers surrounding them and mentors just down the road! As you can imagine, having so many animals and gardens is a full-time job. However, John has another full-time job and Emily is currently taking care of their five-month-old baby girl, Alice. That said, she will be going back to her (other) full-time job in a few months. How do they do it? With a lot of hard work! On a regular day, they have to get up at 5am to do farm chores before work and go to bed late after a long day of work and chores. Chores include milking cows, collecting the eggs, feeding and watering the livestock, mowing hay, spreading manure, and general farm maintenance. Incredible, eh? I think their hard work is worth endorsing and encouraging, don’t you?
Emily did want to share that, although their land is certified organic, their animals aren’t. Indeed, the meat of their animals is not organic because the animals are fed non-organic food: if it were the case, the cost of the meat would double, and most people are not willing to pay that much for meat. Nevertheless, their animals are happy: they all have names and are well treated. They are grass-fed and pasture-raised and they spend a lot of time outside. Becaguimec Farm’s customers like buying meat from them because their animals are grown the old-fashioned way, and the meat tastes delicious and natural. It simply does not compare to grocery-store meat.
Becaguimec Farm is: ’Certified organic because [they] care about the health of [their] streams, forests, and wildlife. Locally sourced and processed because [they] care about [their] neighbours and community. Ethically raised because [they] care about the well being of [their] animals and the quality of the food [they] eat and sell.’ If you are in the New Brunswick area and are interested in organic farming, get in touch with Emily and John, or follow Becaguimec Farm on Facebook!