Wysmykal Farm is a small, certified organic market garden in Chapman Settlement on the Northumberland Strait. Charles Ryan and Jessy Wysmyk own and operate the farm growing and selling organic vegetables and fruit through a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) program and, in season, at the Pugwash Farmers’ Market and the Sackville Farmers’ Market in New Brunswick. The farm has been certified organic since 2010.
The arrival of COVID-19 prompted them to expand their sales channels to continue reaching their customers. “We’ve had a CSA program for almost as long as we’ve had the farm, and we still have one,” Jessy says. “And then, with the pandemic in 2020, we started to offer online ordering and home delivery as well. We’re still doing that through the winter, and we make deliveries every Wednesday.”
Jessy Wysmyk and Charles Ryan with their two children on the farm.
With two young children to care for, Charles and Jessy divide their farm responsibilities and typically work on separate days. During the main growing season, Charles is often in the fields or a greenhouse on Monday, Wednesday morning and Thursday, overseeing production work. Tuesday and Friday are harvest days, when Jessy oversees the harvesting, washing and packing. Both of them are involved in deliveries and attending farmers markets.
Charles’ background is in cooking, including a Cordon Bleu certificate. He also has a BA in English and Contemporary Studies from Kings University, a degree that, according to their website, “comes in handy when discussing metaphysics over 800 feet of carrot weeding.” He has served on the boards of the Organic Federation of Canada, ACORN, and the Cumberland Chapter of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture (NSFA).
Jessy oversees much of the farm administration and is the harvest manager. She has a BSc in Marine Biology and Environmental Science from Dalhousie University. “Although I didn’t study farming, I was interested in ecology,” she says. “I became interested in organic foods before we started the farm, and that’s how I wanted to farm.” Jessy also serves on the boards of the Sackville Farmers Market and the Cumberland Chapter of the NSFA.
A loan from the Farm Loan Board helped buy a second large greenhouse for growing winter greens.
A loan from the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board helped them buy a second large greenhouse – 30 by 100 feet – and expand what they could offer their customers year-round. “A couple of years ago we started growing spinach and other cold-hardy greens in one of our greenhouses through the winter,” Jessy says. “Winter greens are a big opportunity in our region; there’s a good demand and not many local producers. This greenhouse allowed us to increase our production to serve the market that was already there.”
Their experience with the Farm Loan Board was positive, she says. “They were willing to answer our questions and provide us with some options to consider. The loan officer was a nice person to deal with.”