3 Ridges Farms
The Essential Elements of Three Ridges Ecological Farm
Three Ridges Ecological Farm is located on 50 acres just south of Aylmer, Ontario, Canada near the north shores of Lake Erie. The farm includes pastures, orchard and nut tree plantings, native prairie and Carolinian forest and several constructed wetlands. To start, we produce mostly quality meats & eggs from our pastures; as the ecosystem matures, we will produce a greater diversity of products from all areas of the farm.
With a sense of adventure and love of working hard outdoors, we met at a remote biological research field station surrounded by polar bears near Churchill, Manitoba. We lived in Drake’s home state of Iowa for 10 years, where we spent a lot of time sitting in uncomfortable chairs (Sarah has a Ph.D. in soil microbial ecology and Drake an M.Sc. in Sustainable Agriculture); learned about the scary state of
agriculture agribusiness; hunted, gathered, gardened and preserved with some cherished folks; then had a baby. In 2015, we moved back to Sarah’s home province of Ontario to start farming for our daughter’s future. While in Iowa, Drake also worked for Practical Farmers of Iowa and Sarah currently works part-time for Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario. Read more about our advocacy of soil microbes and diversified agriculture.
The animals – our cows, pigs, chickens, and ducks – that improve the land through grazing, fertilizing and tromping around; they provide us with healthful meat and eggs; and keep us entertained, honest and humble. Read more about our animals and what they eat.
The microbes – bacteria and fungi – that work the soil to feed the plants, hold water and store carbon.
Diversity is critical to a well-functioning and resilient ecosystem – but is lacking in modern agricultural landscapes. Diversity helps us: build soil, fight pests and disease, support pollinators and wildlife, manage risk (from consumer change to climate change), produce healthful food, and much more.
At 3R, we manage a diversity of animals, plants, fungi and trees that work together in a diversity of habitats to form synergisms unique to our land and integrated ecological farms.
Our landscape plan is inspired by Keyline Design. A primary goal of the farm’s configuration is to spread water from the wet areas to the dry areas and make use of all the water that enters the system. We use farming and horticulture, animal husbandry, silvopasture and agroforestry holistically to regenerate the landscape and provide for our family and community.
The nourishing, supportive and diverse group of farmers, customers, and friends:
- London Area Organic Growers – The New New Age, Common Ground Farm, Dancey Family Farm, Fairmeadow Farm, Little Fields Farm and Orchard Hill Farm; HOPE EcoFarms; Wild Craft Permaculture; YU Ranch; EverTerra Farms; Katie Hotchkiss Photography
- Our customers who value the healthful and heartful products that grow from small-scale ecological farms;
- Neighbours who lend us equipment and help us herd escaped cows; family and friends, near and far, who support us through the ebb and flow of #farmlife;
- A broader community of ecological and regenerative farmers that inspires and guides us, including Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, Practical Farmers of Iowa and regenerative farmers across the world!
Following the spirit expressed in Holistic Management, we defined a long-term goal for the farm. We strive to create a future farm were:
Farm ecology —high diversity, low input— provides all the nutrition and water resources for crops and livestock such that our dynamic farm enterprises are economically successful while providing others access to foods at fair prices. Our farm enterprises are intended to function in low entropy state that allows for optimal productivity balanced with reasonable human workloads and low capital costs. Beyond food, our farm provides us and our community with aesthetic beauty, and spiritual and recreational opportunities.