Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
Story by MARGARET HOEGG
Every Thursday morning, you’ll find Kevin Veinotte of Out to Pasture Farm standing behind his table at the Lunenburg Farmers Market. After twenty years as a vendor, his steady market customers are both the core of his business and the favourite part of his work. While the booming year-round market hosts a curated mix of artists and craftspeople, it’s a market run by farmers for farmers. Speaking as a board member, Kevin says, “we’re giving every opportunity to Lunenburg County farmers to be there to do that. That’s the mantra.”
For some of the regular vendors farming was a major career change: “We’ve got people there selling things who are professors, who have engineering degrees,” he says. “But this is where they’ve ended up and it’s what they’re passionate about and what they want to do.”
As a seventh-generation farmer Kevin’s been in the industry longer than most, and he sees a lot of untapped potential for innovation in farming. He’s encouraged by the immigration of people in recent years that are bringing new ideas and possibilities to farming in the region. “Given our climate there are huge opportunities for grapes and things like that,” he says. He’s enthusiastic about the creation of rural jobs and he’s very supportive of new people with new ideas, especially those that make sustainability a priority. He loves seeing the boom of young families moving to Lunenburg County, as “we live in the most beautiful place around, with clean air, clean water [and] we need people to live here that want to be here.”
On his family farm there is an emphasis on sustainability and animal welfare. He and his wife and sons follow organic practices in the management of their livestock and their Christmas tree farm, maintain 350 acres of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified woodland and 17 acres of ponds, wetlands, and areas dedicated for wildlife habitat. They’ve developed a Carbon Management Plan, an Agricultural Biodiversity Plan, and work closely with the Adopt-a-Stream Project to continuously improve stream bank health and fish habitat.
When asked how he balances animal and environmental welfare with volume, he says that a lot of his work is creative problem solving, and he’s “trying to improve all the time instead of solely just trying to come up with a better, cheaper way to do it. Everything is a work in progress.” Out to Pasture Farm’s new poultry processing facility is clean, bright, efficient, and designed to reflect Veinotte’s values.
For example, its wastewater filtration system uses a series of lined ponds that filter wastewater through rushes, reeds, gravel, grass, and creates habitat for frogs and fish. It was costly, but it’s quiet and efficient, and will last decades with little maintenance and the lowest possible impact on the environment. Kevin believes wholeheartedly that sustainability and profitability don’t have to be at odds. He regularly consults with other farmers to help them develop more efficient systems that are less labour intensive and more sustainable. While his methods take a longer view, they result in healthier products, communities, forests, and habitats. He says there’s a growing appreciation for his product – such as his 100% grass fed and finished beef - especially from younger people and those from other areas. “Just like many things, I’m going in the opposite direction, or,” he chuckles, “I’m so behind the curve that its coming back to meet me!”
Visit Kevin’s U-Cut site: www.kevinsucut.com