Farmers’ markets across Nova Scotia are celebrating the second annual Farmers’ Market Week (3-10 August) – the only event of its kind in Canada. The festivities highlight the wonderful fresh food, artisan products and local crafts available at more than 40 markets province-wide. Rustik Magazine has teamed up with Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia to profile some of the vendors and producers that make up Nova Scotia’s vibrant markets.
1) What is your local farmers’ market and what do you most love about it?
Our market season runs from early fall to early spring and we sell from the farm year-round. We begin the season at the busy Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, where we engage with patrons, sharing stories of the most alpacas’ recent antics. Many of the regular market-goers stop by our booth to find out how the alpacas are doing, and new attendees are curious to find out more about these fascinating creatures, and experience the silky soft feel of the fibre.
After Thanksgiving we can also be found at the fun, funky and vibrant Wolfville Farmers’ Market, where patrons regularly ask about the “goings-on” at the farm. On alternating weekends we are also at the Truro Farmers’ Market, a growing community market.
2) How did you get into your line of work?
Our farm is in its sixth season of operation and we raise 40-plus alpacas near Shubenacadie. The farm grew from a desire to lead a “country lifestyle” as a counterpoint to high stress corporate jobs. After a couple of seasons at the farm we wanted to fill an empty barn with life. Alpacas were the favoured choice due to their easy nature and the fact that the fibre harvest is sustainable over the lifespan of the animals.
Alpacas are an environmentally friendly livestock. Their two-toed feet are gentle on pastures and, as a member of the camelid family, their water needs are moderate. We raise alpacas without the use of antibiotics or hormones and with little intervention. They are calming to be around and are full of personality. An alpaca’s life span can run to 20 years, providing luxurious fibre every year.
We actively engage in the promotion of alpacas and their fiber through farm tours (please call ahead); attending alpaca shows as far away as Ontario and selling breeding stock; and offering mentorship to new alpaca breeders.
3) What is our favorite material to work with?
My absolute favourite thing to do is weave alpaca rugs with the rug yarn. Rug yarn is thick and bulky and retains the softness of alpaca beautifully. The rug yarn allows for a wide range of interesting patterning on the loom. The finished rugs are a treat for bare feet!
4) What is your greatest product design inspiration (i.e. nature, person, place, meal)?
I take inspiration from the natural world and of course the alpacas themselves.
5) Does your product have a special personal/traditional/cultural meaning to you?
We raise alpacas for their soft, warm fibre, which we use to create various products ranging from socks and other knit goodies to felted products and hand-woven scarves and rugs. Alpaca fibre tends to be hypoallergenic and is a perfect option for anyone unable to wear wool. At five times warmer than sheep’s wool on an ounce per ounce basis it is ideal for anyone who spends time outdoors or for those who have a difficult time staying warm.
Each item we make has a very personal connection to each of our alpacas. We can identify which animal the fibre came from for each project.