“A 19th Century Farm operating in the 21st Century.”
Two of the bravest people I have ever met, Joaquim and Amor Conde, left regular careers in the city of Toronto to pursue the chance farming in Black River, Prince Edward County, at 212 County Road 16.
Joaquim operated an automotive repair shop and Amor worked in interior design; a far cry from the life they have adopted in The County. They made the move five years ago, and the past two years have seen the farm expand in production and both appear to have adjusted well to their new home and lifestyle.
When Joaquim talks about the farm activities and future projects his voice is full of enthusiasm and pride. Besides growing their own vegetables and raising livestock they offer many other experiences for visitors. Their ten acre farm is a work in progress. Pigs, sheep, ducks, chickens, both for meat and laying hens, are free to wander the pastures. At the present time one and a half acres are being tilled, nourished with their own compost instead of commercial fertilizers.
A Summer Camp for children provides an opportunity for eight to twelve year olds to spend a week on the hundred and fifty year old farm and learn where their food comes from and to see it go from the field to the table. Camp councillors are on site to supervise a variety of activities, such as children milling grain into flour for pizza dough. Throughout the day the group worked on the dough and added toppings from the farm to share at the evening meal. Participants also learn about composting and growing crops. Another camp had the students checking out bee hives and learning about honey production. Campers also learned to forage for edible flowers. Joaquim and Amor hope to foster a wider appreciation of what food is and where it comes from so that tomorrow’s consumers may be more discerning.
Time and weather allowing Joaquim and Amor offer lunch from their roadside stand, between noon and three pm. This is a not to be missed treat, with a typical menu will offering some of the following:
Lamb Burger on Homemade Bun
Goat Burger on Homemade Bun
B.B.Q. Chicken Panini on Homemade Bun
Veg. Black Bean Burger on Homemade Bun
All served with Fresh Garden Greens
You will note the short menu, usually the shorter the menu that better the food. Having enjoyed the lamb burger, the tortilla, and the salad, I cannot recommend a trip out for lunch more highly. Casual is not the word, just sit there and chat whilst Joaquim assembles your meal. Perfect if the weather’s cooperative.
Volunteers are welcomed through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and WORKAWAY, organizations that connect them to hosts. Some of the volunteers come from other countries as far away as Brazil and Germany. The 2018 schedule includes the following activities:
the expansion of the rain water collection system
upgrades to the gravity fed irrigation system
improvements to the composting station
installation of a photovoltaic solar array
continuation to fence repairs
building of a wood fired cob oven
construction of a grey water filtration system
laying out the site for the geodesic dome
construction of a shipping container micro Eco-cabin
Check the website for workshops in which to participate throughout the season. Their loft can accommodate 35 people for workshops and meetings.
Shop in their Local Food Shop, where everything for sale comes from the farm except Joaquim’s olive oil, which hails from his native Portugal and is harvested and pressed by his own hand. Quinta do Conde produce is also available at farmer’s markets. In the barn, Amor has assembled antiques and collectibles to tempt visitors, and proposes to rekindle her upholstery skills, possibly using their own animal skins, completing the circle. Waste not, want not.
Throughout the summer they host Table-at-the-Farm “Harvest Dinner Series”. Check their website for dates to book. https://www.quintadoconde.ca/ The protein component of the meal is advertised but the rest of the menu is a surprise. At their dinners, they want to eliminate waste and stress on water resources, so ask that diners bring their own tableware. Competition among the guests is encouraged with everyone looking to create the most elegant and interesting table setting from an assortment of table cloths, candles, dishes, silverware, vases, and flowers. As many as forty eight people can be accommodated, so these events are quite the occasion. Starting around three, but no one’s looking at their watch, these events provide a perfect opportunity to relax in the company of other foodies and make new acquaintances. Sometimes the dinners are hosted as fund raisers for local initiatives. One such recent event raised money for a project help to restore the Morrison Point Road dry stone wall.
For the future a two thousand sq.ft. cellar for storage and curing is in the offing. At present there is some solar and micro wind generation with plans to expand to get entirely off the grid eventually
Joaquim and Amor are happy to discuss their plans and share their dreams. Follow them on:
A much preferred option is to take a lovely country drive to check out the farm and enjoy the sites of The County. If the road side stand is open, take time to enjoy the fresh cooked food offered on that day. Both Amor and Joaquim will be more than happy to share with visitors their aspirations for the farm. A ride on the Glenora Ferry from Adolphustown to The County will only add to the experience.