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N.B. man trades fellowship work for life on the farm

N.B. man trades fellowship work for life on the farm

Jonathan English started his own farm after spending five years working with incarcerated individuals

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Jonathan English is getting ready to celebrate his second anniversary as a New Brunswick farmer.

The 58-year-old started Broad Meadow Farm, which produces local fruit, vegetables, meats, eggs and baked goods, in July 2020 in Tripp Settlement, N.B., where he sells produce boxes and recently opened a farm stand.

He opened the farm following five years working for Prison Fellowship Canada.

As the organization’s director for Atlantic Canada, English spent time visiting with incarcerated individuals.

“I would go into the prisons and jails in the Atlantic provinces to do bible studies and also help equip inmates with life skills and bridge care to help them reintegrate into the community,” he told Farms.com. “I’d also help train volunteers to ensure there were volunteers around the vicinity of each prison or jail.”

Correctional Service Canada lists four correctional institutions in the Atlantic region.

That fellowship work took a toll on English’s health.

To the point where he knew he needed change.

“I burnt out,” he said. “It was very rewarding work but very challenging. My health declined, and I ended up in the emergency room. During that recovery process I decided I needed to start a new chapter in my life.”

English decided to pursue agriculture because it’s in his blood.

He farmed with his parents in Bermuda in the 1970s, growing fruits and vegetables for hotels in the tourism sector.

His ag experience also included stops in B.C. and New Hampshire.

And though he’s had some experience in ag, he’s still getting used to some modern practices.

“When I was growing up, we had no social media, everything was over the phone,” he said. “Learning the technical skills is new to me, learning the market needs of the community has been a learning curve and also learning the climate and trying to optimize the growing season.”

Not quite two years in and English is already planning growth.

He recently purchased another parcel of land to bring the farm’s total acreage to 57.

“We needed more land to house animals and produce more crops,” he said.

Right now, he and his wife Sue Ellen, who work off farm, handle most of the tasks on the farm.

“I have some help here and there but it’s getting to the point where I’m going to need someone full time,” he said.

English isn’t the only Canadian to make a career change into the ag sector.

Katelyn Duban from Lethbridge, Alta., used to work a 9-5 government job but transitioned to becoming a farmer with her husband Justin.

Broad Meadow Farm photo


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