Clearcuts Affect Farms! 16


Since last summer, clearcutting has taken place in our community. It has been hard to sleep at night hearing the large logging machines cutting and chipping the wood. The sounds are scary to me, and I’m sure to many other types of animals.

We have been worried about how the clearcut will affect our farm business as well. We rely so heavily on clean water to grow our produce. Wildlife looking for food to eat can cause us huge losses as well. No farm or forest is an island and the consequences of what goes on there doesn’t end at the property lines.

With our current degree of consumption and demand for cheap items, a system where unsustainable clearcuts, farming or aquaculture is the norm doesn’t come as a surprise .

As a young person who dreams of having children one day, I hope this will change.

We farm because we want to work at something that is increasing the health of our community of people, other animals and plants.

It is very easy for us to see how difficult it would be to manage a large business (in any industry), needing to make enough money so that every employee can make a living wage, pay off debts and be able to innovate and invest in the business, all while considering the short- and long-term impacts on the community and environment. I have no idea how this can be done well. And that is why we are only able to run a small business.  We can only wrap our heads around sustainability on a smaller-scale. We have modest dreams: continue to make our living solely from our farm, contribute to the health of our community with our skills and knowledge, and create a farm that its future stewards will feel blessed to inherit. We have “bought” this piece of land but we know it’s not “ours.” We are just doing the best we know how.

In our first year starting Broadfork Farm, we were farming on leased land. We leased that land from Windhorse Farm in New Germany, NS. The sustainably-managed forest there inspired us so much. We saw that a forest can provide income (both short-term and long-term) while continuing to be a forest. The wealth of that forest is not only monetary.

When we see the results of this clearcut and are saddened, it’s not because we think the foresters are to blame. They are doing their job. We have created a system where this is their job and that is how they make their way in the world. But the squeaky wheel gets the grease (or so I am told). This is not the reality I hope will be inherited by my children. I recently read that under Canadian law, silence is considered to be consent. We change the world by speaking up and living according to our values. I believe we can do so much more than what we see today.

Small treeClearcutSadnessToo close to water

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16 thoughts on “Clearcuts Affect Farms!

  • David Blanchard

    Anyone who loves trees, soils, water, wildlife, and natural beauty will be saddened and sickened by these photos. I’m constantly amazed, as I follow the controversy over clearcutting, by how many people are still willing to defend this practice and claim it represents a sustainable approach to forestry.
    The best exposition of the arguments against clearcutting that I’ve seen is the book Beyond the Beauty Strip, by Mitch Lansky. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to speak out knowledgeably against clearcutting.
    I’m sorry, Shannon and Bryan, that this awful thing had to happen right next to your farm.

  • Brad Bossack

    That’s horrible, ..& disgraceful (and maybe illegal) forestry conduct obviously as well.
    I’m so sorry you had to live through that happening to your homelands that you know.

  • Dr. Tanya Wood

    Sickened to see this devastation. I’ve been following your progress as young farmers from the time you were renting land in Lunenburg County. It must be heartbreaking to realize your dream one day and then have to deal with the concequence of this destruction on the surrounding ecosystem the next. I beleive Joel Salatin said it in one of his books that his surrounding woodland forest was just as important as his pasture. When will the government officals start realizing we can’t keep this up. Everything is connected. Sending you my thoughts, keep up your great work.

  • rose leonard

    this is just sad..and i know exactly what you mean. I too bought land and a woodlot, it is surrounded by logging companies just coming in and leaving an absolute mess behind and not respecting wetlands. After this last winters rape and pillage I am surrounded on three sides by clearcut. Moose, porcupine, skunk, bobcat, lynx..bat habitat gone…, the road, dirt, is impassable and closed by DOT since March 15. Most of the land raped of resource is either foreign ownership or a numbered Irving company. Whats next fracking…and we wonder why our bats are disappearing! Governments wont help..they just help themselves to the easy revenue.

  • Jamie Simpson

    Thanks for sending the letter to the Minister, Charlie Parker. He needs to hear from many people on this. So far, he has refused to follow through on any progressive forestry reform (reducing clearcutting, stopping whole-tree harvesting). Very disappointing.

    Jamie Simpson

  • Hillary

    Hi Shannon,
    I’m wondering if we could publish your blog post on the Halifax Media Co-op website?
    It’s an important issue.
    Please let me know.

  • Dustin

    You are forgetting your farm is a clear cut! Just because you’ve planted some pretty grass doesn’t mean it wasn’t once a forested area that was in fact clear cut and never returned to forest, or natural animal habitat.

    • broadforkfarm Post author

      Hi Dustin,
      Thank you very much for your comment. We haven’t forgotten that our land was cut centuries ago to make create land to feed the population. We are grateful for the work done by the Acadians in creating dykes by hand (maybe with the use of some draft animals as well) so that our community could grow food crops. On our 15 acre farm, about 6 to 7 is cleared land, of which we use about 4 for growing annual and perennial veggies and fruit. Biodiversity is one of our highest priorities. We make sure we leave hedgerows and other natural areas untouched for the wild beasts that like to come around and enjoy the wild apples and other browse-ables. The deer seem to have an especial liking for some of the rye cover crop (one of those pretty grasses) we plant over winter to prevent erosion. So even while “unnatural”, farms like ours do create habitat for other native species that frequent our area, such as barn swallows, song birds (they love the edge habitat and frequently help keep our insect pest population lower by visiting the garden), snakes (we love them), and insects (beetles, native bees, and even those pesky black flies and mosquitoes).
      We aspire to do a better job every single year. Our measure of success is three-fold. Our farm business needs to be economically sustainable because it is the only way we make our household income. Socially sustainable because we rely on our community for friendship, support, and to be the ones who are buying our food. And environmentally sustainable because we cannot be healthy human beings without a healthy environment in which to live. Forests clean our air and our water and those 2 things are a pretty big deal.
      We definitely don’t want to give anyone the impression we are against the sustainable harvest of trees. We make our living (and community members get food to eat) by working with the natural resources of our province, just as foresters and fishermen do. All 3 of these industries have an important responsibility to ensure that what they do isn’t taking away from future generations. And all 3 can be done in a way that is sustainable (financially, socially, and ecologically) with a bit of thought.
      Thanks again for your comment. It’s so great to hear from people who feel passionate enough about an issue to comment on our blog! You are welcome to visit our farm if you’re ever in our area and have some tea with us.

  • Dustin

    I farm myself, so I’m only offering another outlook. I dont agree with modern forestry techniques either, but the same can be said about modern farming practices, that even I have to take part in. People see all the destruction left over from a cutting, but don’t look at an open field the same way – I love the look of an open green field as much as anyone, however I know the history behind it, and I know that it would turn back into forest in a few short years of not being kept up. Quite a bit of the once NS farmland is already back in bushes and woods, even since my parents childhoods.

    The fact that it was done centuries ago, is only semi comforting – if cats showed up next door tomorrow and piled the leftovers to burn, and then grass was planted next yr and turned into farmland, do they have any less right to do it that way, then any other time in history? Each generation uses whatever modern tools are on hand to get the job done, as destructive as it looks and is nowadays.

    Just an alternative view. All the best,

    • Cindi

      I’m apparently 6 years late to the discussion, but just wanted to point out that a field that begins to turn back into a very young forest does not at all have the same ecological impact as a mature forest that has been left alone. There is so much complexity to older forest systems, perhaps most importantly what goes on UNDER the soil, on a mycorrhizal level, that most of us don’t even know about. I am sure there is even more to it that science does not even understand yet and, yet, here we are, playing God with ecosystems, razing them to the ground even now that we know better, and assuming “it will be fine” because eventually they will return to their former state. Not necessarily so, and what have we (the BIG WE, not just humans) lost in the meantime?

  • John Beers

    We are experiencing the same devastation all over NB. Premier Irving has done whatever he wishes in this province for many years! He has the carte blanc right to do so, given by his cronies that were in power in the past, people like Shawn Graham, Frank McKenna, Bernard Lord to name only the recent conspirators! Bud Byrd was the NR minister when the rape began, McKenna back and supported him! Filling his and his cronies pockets! The cutting has destroyed hundreds of acres here in NB, crown land that belongs to the people of this province, but the people refuse to stand up, to the anise because of who the Irving’s are, and so on goes the abuse. You want to discuss the worse case of bullying ever! Politicians in NB and the Irving’s! I am very sorry that it had to be a company from NB who made the mess!

  • Christine Wysmyk

    My heart goes out to you both, Shannon and Bryan.

    I am so very sorry that such an atrocity took place so close to your home, Broadfork Farm, the farm that is tended by your heart, your head and your hands in Nova Scotia.

    Unacceptable, disgraceful, and so destructive to the trees and all the wildlife that lived within.
    It will take years for those trees to return, if ever the intention is to have them return.

    I recommend: Derrick Jensen & George Draffan’s Strangely Like War: The Global Assault on Forests.

    Thank you,


    • broadforkfarm Post author

      Thank you Christine. We really appreciate your support. We’ll definitely look for your recommendations at our library!

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