Dream Small Farm is fresh produce grown with only nature’s help.
In 2019, Anna and Patrick Brunet gave up city life in Ottawa and moved with their children Clara and Joel to a 60-acre property near Alexandria. Anna gave up full-time work as a physiotherapist. Patrick left a law career with the federal government. The couple began working the land in 2020.
“It had long been a dream to have an organic farm,” Anna said.
Their commitment to sustainably grown, homegrown food predated their move to the country. They had an extensive garden in the backyard of their Ottawa home.
“We always valued growing our own food,” Anna commented, adding they have been concerned about the state of the planet and its climate for a long time.
“Growing food sustainably for our community is important,” Patrick said.
Salad greens are the main crop at Dream Small Farm. They grow in tidy rows, planted in a colourful pattern of shades of green and purple. The planting schedule is set so a new crop of greens is ready about every six weeks, six months of the year, thanks to the assistance of two hoop-framed greenhouses. Customers who order a salad at La Belle Sorelle, the North Glengarry Restaurant, The Atlantic Pub, and Tom’s Pantry in Alexandria are eating greens grown at Dream Small Farm. Shoppers at the Glengarry Market and in Lancaster at Henderson’s Grocery are buying Dream Small greens.
“We hope that list will grow,” Patrick said.
The farm also supplies vegetables to the Alexandria Food Bank.
Patrick explained the challenges associated with growing vegetables organically, especially when it comes to countering weeds and pests. And, of course, there’s the one thing farmers of all kinds contend with: the weather. Patrick said his negotiation skills from his years in law don’t work with Mother Nature.
“You can’t negotiate with the weather,” he said.
Dream Small Farm was certified as local organic in 2022 and received its full Ecocert organic certification in 2023. Part of the process involved consultations with an agronomist and soil testing.
“It’s been a very steep learning curve,” Patrick commented.
In addition to the salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, Swiss chard, peas, and radishes are grown at the farm. Those items are available from the on-site farm stand. Half of the property is forested, which helps protect the organic crops.
“It gives us a buffer,” Anna said.
City folks moving to the country and becoming farmers is nothing new. It has been happening for decades. Dream Small Farm has drawn interest from the already established agricultural community around Alexandria.
“I think people are genuinely curious about what we’re doing,” Patrick said.
“They’re curious, even non-organic farmers,” remarked Anna.
Dream Small Farm also raises chickens and turkeys. Those products, along with the produce, are also sold on location. Laying hens provide fresh eggs.
Anna and Patrick named their farm Dream Small Farm because their interest is in small-scale agriculture on a small amount of land that benefits their local community. The farm stand is open from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Dream Small Farm is located at 3723 2nd Line Road, Alexandria. Until October 29, Dream Small Farm will also be at the Cornwall Kinsmen Farmers Market each Sunday. For more information, go to https://dreamsmallfarm.com/.