Michael Ableman - sustainable agriculture, organic farming


Michael Ableman is a farmer, author, and photographer and a recognized practitioner of sustainable agriculture and proponent of regional food systems. He has written several books and numerous essays and articles, and lectures extensively on food, culture, and sustainability worldwide. Michael is currently farming at the Foxglove Farm on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, home of  The Center for Arts, Ecology & Agriculture.

"Ableman is a gracious rebel who knows that industrialized farming wrings
the life out of both soil and communities. His joy in stewardship and in people
celebrates a psychic sustainability that won't appear on spreadsheets."

- Sierra Magazine

What's in Season...

In the midst of one of the busiest planting seasons I can remember both here at Foxglove Farm and at SOLEfood in Vancouver, I took some time to do a radio interview with New Zealand's national radio.

I am fascinated by the overwhelming interest these days in all things related to Urban Agriculture. When I founded the Center For Urban Agriculture in the early 1980's most folks thought that urban and agriculture were a contradiction of terms. Now everyone is talking about it. Even with this surge of interest there are few significant urban production farms in North America.

With our expansion to close to 5 acres in the city of Vancouver SOLEfood is fulfilling both its social goals of employing folks who have not had access to meaningful work and its agricultural goals by becoming a substantial economic model.

This interview touches on the challenges and the possibilities for the future of this movement. Enjoy it and let us know what you think. - Michael Ableman, June 4, 2012

Radio New Zealand interview with Michael Ableman | May 23, 2012

In spite of my best intentions, I only managed to squeeze in a couple of weeks’ work on my new book this spring. I’m excited about this project, but the writing is deep and slow and will probably take a couple more years to get down. The book is about impermanence, about how we are all just passing through the land that we inhabit, and that we have a responsibility to leave it more fertile, more biologically alive, and to use our time on the land to nourish and to teach. A little excerpt:

All farming is an act of faith, an expression of hope and possibility. I cannot imagine that there are any farmers out there, who no matter how many times they have seen the miracle of a seed germinate, or a lamb being born, or a tree flower and set fruit, are not in awe of a force far greater than themselves. This is what keeps us going even when the work is hard and the return not commensurate. It is this force we rely on, it’s what we set the table for.

We prepare ground for planting, providing everything we can to insure that the conditions are right. We place tiny seeds, and plants, and trees in that ground, in rows, and lines, and blocks, on raised beds, in trenches, in holes, we wait and watch and cover and protect, always knowing that in the end we are not in control.

The most reliable part of our work is the mystery, the collaboration with the unseen, the hyper-focused intention followed by the willingness to let go. I imagine the original settlers on this land, out in that same empty field, placing each orchard tree in the ground, planting their hope for the future. I have trusted in their judgment, choosing the exact same sight for our orchard as they did theirs a hundred years ago, knowing that against so many odds they made a life, not an affluent one, but one that was certainly rich.

Michael Ableman | May 2, 2012

It’s been a winter whirlwind, not so much from the weather, which hasn’t been extreme, but from the intensity of human activity.

I’ve been traveling quite a bit, speaking in the US and in Australia on a three week lecture tour. My work with SOLEfood in Vancouver has expanded dramatically, as we have been funded to expand that project from its original half-acre parking lot, to close to five acres on multiples sites across the city. I am thrilled and fulfilled to be helping bring farming, good food, and jobs to Vancouver’s most underserved individuals through this very innovative social enterprise. Stay tuned for more on this.

We were lucky this spring, a few early dry/warm windows allowed us to get quite a bit planted. Beets and carrots and salad and spinach direct seeded, chard and kale and collards were transplanted in early April. The tomatoes and peppers went in earlier than usual, as did our berries. Spinach, with leaves the size of dinner plates, is now ready to harvest, as is salad mix and French breakfast radish. We planted an insane amount of our infamous basketball-sized sweet onions to support the cult following they have at the market. Strawberries have fruit already developing, and in our quest to find the perfect ever-bearing variety, we’ve gotten some French cultivars which are outrageously good.

Asparagus is pushing through now, so we’ll be doing our first market on Salt Spring Island on May 5. If you’re on the island, come and see us at the market, and sign up for our debit style CSA program. And whether you’re on Salt Spring Island, or live elsewhere, check out the upcoming workshops at our Center for Arts, Ecology, and Agriculture. Our first workshop is with my friend, colleague, and fellow lunatic farmer Joel Salatin on June 20/21. We’re excited about the upcoming season and look forward to sharing the abundance of this land, and the ideas and inspiration of our programs.

Michael Ableman, April 27, 2012


Michael's Books

Fields of Plenty, by Michael Ableman

"The chronicle of a farmer's journey to the frontiers of American agriculture today, Fields of Plenty is a book of rare beauty and hope. American agriculture is in the process of being reinvented by the farmers Michael Ableman introduces us to here, and to overhear these pioneers in conversation with one of their own is exhilarating."
- Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma

read more >

"Inspiring and utterly absorbing."
- Booklist

read more >

"Hopeful and inspiring."
- Los Angeles Times

read more >

"Beautiful cinematography and engaging storytelling. A must see!"
- Nina Simons, Bioneers Conference

read more >


Home    About Michael    Appearances    Writing    Photography    Foxglove Farm    Recipes    Press    Store    Links    Sitemap    Contacts

Copyright © 2005 Michael Ableman, All Rights Reserved   

Salt Spring Island Accommodations