Recapping “The Dirt on Soil” and “Cover Cropping” Workshops at McVean

By Kelsey Rideout, FarmStart Outreach and Resource Development Intern

Joyce Ramnarine, a test cropper at McVean, enjoying the ribbon test!

On Saturday, May 30th, FarmStart conducted two workshops entitled, “The Dirt on Soil” and “Introduction to Cover Cropping” at the McVean Incubator Farm Facility in Brampton. Individuals from a range of backgrounds came together to attend the sessions. Some of the participants were farmers from McVean, others had access to land and were beginning to explore different cultivation methods, and then there were those who simply had great interest in the topics at hand. With a diverse range of attendees and two very well-versed presenters, the day consisted of a great amount of learning and a whole lot of fun!


Tarrah Young, presenting her workshop, called 'The Dirt on Soil.'

Tarrah Young, farmer from Green Being Farm, presented an introductory level workshop on soil, a subject that she has been passionately teaching for over 8 years. Tarrah covered a range of soil topics, from more descriptive concepts like soil colour and soil make-up, to more complex concepts such as the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). Tarrah’s hands-on style left participants smiling from ear to ear as they got up, close and personal with the underground world. The group learned how to physically test and observe the soil’s texture by performing what’s known as the “ribbon test”. By the end of the session, Tarrah’s central message evidently resounded within the minds and spirits of the group – the need to develop a sense of wonderment and appreciation for the millions of living interactions taking place right beneath our feet.


Saulis Tribinevicius, presenting the afternoon workshop on cover cropping.

Saulis Tribinevicius, Farm Manager at McVean Farm, presented the afternoon workshop. Topics such as soil structure and soil fertility were once again explored, but this time through the new lens of cover cropping. As cover crops play a fundamental role in naturally sustaining essential nutrients within the soil and ridding crops of harmful pests, this workshop provided participants with essential tips for their farm and gardening plans. Saulis went over a variety of cover crops, including green manure, clovers, vetch, buckwheat, and sweetclovers. After a long and windy day full of stimulating conversations, participants left McVean with a head full of new knowledge and an itch to get back in the dirt and learn some more!

FarmStart will be running several workshops throughout this summer. Make sure to keep yourself updated by signing up for our Mailing List or checking our website for upcoming workshops and events!


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