Tully's Way Farm - Our Story
Our farm was purchased by Sue and I in the summer of 1998. At that time in our lives, Sue was engaged in a busy Guelph medical practice, Gerry was teaching in Hamilton and children Luke and Sarah were in high school. We were living just up the road and I passed by this place every day on my way to Hamilton.
Our children were very interested in equestrian activities and we were all heavily involved in the local Pony Club(http://www.canadianponyclub.org/WesternOntario/Guelph/home.html). For various reasons we ended up owning 4 horses, and found ourselves in need of a place of our own to carry on our horse activities.
This 78 acre farm became available in the fall of 1997 and we pursued, for 9 months, its purchase. Not knowing that much about farming, we rented 45 acres of the farm to a local, conventional farm group, which grew the traditional corn-soy rotation for 10 years. We also started planting trees and native perennials.
As children do, Sarah and Luke grew up and started their adult lives away from Guelph and we found ourselves with this big space, that needed rehabilitation. Near tragedy struck when, just around his 21st birthday, Luke was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Our lives were devastated, and we looked everywhere for cures, as the tumour was inoperable. After a year of treatment, including radiation, and organic food, the tumour was destroyed. Our struggle with finding good, local organic food spurred us on to grow our own. Luke is now working on a PhD at Carleton University; Sarah is a proud and busy mom for 3 growing boys and a hard-working husband.
Our action plan included, Sue – looking after the windbreaks and rehabilitation plan with planting, and Gerry, taking courses, joining organizations and talking to organic farmers and buying equipment and learning how to farm! Our first year of small crop, with very limited varieties, was in 2008. I decided right there and then to pursue this in a big way, applied to start organic certification, and joined CRAFT (http://craftsouthwestontario.ca/). As Gerry and Sue were both working full time, we hired a farm manager, to oversee our dreams. As we built the farm through reputation, diversity and enriching the soil, we gradually added more acreage to our growing space, equipment and technique. We started our first CSA food shares in 2000, we also sell our produce at the Guelph Farmer's Market and from the farm.
In 2014, we decided to move to a fully-paid staff, to control quality, build a team, accomodate the seasonality of the work and most importantly, to provide employment.
In 2015, we moved away from an off-farm manager model, and Gerry has taken over that postion - where it always should have been!
In 2018 our focus will change again, as we transition to crops that can be used over winter, through freezing, dehydrating, processing. For 2018, we will no longer offer CSA shares, however our farm store will be open.
2019/20, as we transition to a new location, new focus, and new insights, look forward to a new name, new products and new outlook!