Farming couple sow the seeds of success
Chris Faria has an answer to the high cost of food: grow your own.
He and his wife Alba started farming in their backyard about a year ago.
Everything, from strawberries to garlic, comes out of the 500 square feet they set aside at Spanish Point.
“We’d like to eventually grow our entire vegan diet,” said Mr Faria, who works as a labourer at Amaral Farms. “That’s our five-year plan. We just have to find a property big enough. Space is always a problem in Bermuda.”
The 33-year-old was introduced to farming in his 20s while working at Aberfeldy Nursery.
Some might argue it’s in his blood: his great-grandfather left the Azores in the 1950s to farm here.
“My grandparents back in the Azores are now very happy that I’m continuing in agriculture,” he said.
“When I first told [my mom Hilda], she said do anything but that; farming is often seen as menial work, something you do if you’re not smart enough to go to college.”
His parents are now proud of his work, and love listening to his suggestions for their garden.
“I have no other hobbies,” he laughed. “I don’t have time for anything else. This is it.”
The Farias use Grow Biointensive, an organic method which claims to get the most out of small-scale agricultural systems.
When practised correctly, it nurtures healthy soil fertility, produces high yields and conserves resources.
“We use quite a different approach at work,” Mr Faria said. “But, that is commercial farming, and this is for the home. This method emphasises being custodians of the soil.”
The farmer is “very excited” about a seed exchange taking place at the Bermuda National Library today. He’s one of several people who will share what they’ve learnt about growing food.
Gardeners are encouraged to bring and swap any locally grown seeds.
“We will be exchanging some soybean seeds that we harvested to make tempeh,” said Mr Faria. “I also have some other surplus seeds to offer. Farming is about sharing. We shouldn’t be competing.”
He’s had hits and misses in his garden over the past year.
“I’ve had some crop failures,” he admitted with a laugh. “I didn’t use any fertiliser with my garlic and the bulbs turned out very small.”
In another case he lost a crop of zucchini to black worms. Still, he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
“There’s something about putting your hands into the soil that makes you feel more spiritual,” he said. “And, my wife and I always feel better after a couple of hours working in the garden.
“There hasn’t been anything bad or stressful for us about doing this. The hardest thing is probably just finding the time to do it.
“A lot of people don’t realise how hard farmers work and there are very few doing the work for many. Where I work I am the only Bermudian farm labourer. All the rest are from overseas.
“Humans are agrarians. It is what has allowed us to flourish as a species. The further we are from food raising the further we are from being who we really are.”
•Join Mr Faria at the seed exchange today from 5pm to 7pm. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.