The History of Our Family Farm
Malcolm Slack’s Vision
Though Malcolm’s vocation was mining his passion was farming. As a young boy in Timmins Ontario he belonged to the matriarcal Finnish community that produced food off the Great Northern Clay Plain that fed the immense number of immigrants that inhabited the North mining gold, silver and base metals. Most miners that spent their days in the deep and dark invested their labor into owning a piece of land where they could build their “have more plans“. These small land holdings were more than a home for they ensured food and shelter in times of strife; a situation all to familiar for the many that had returned from the great wars. Today we are so far away from these simple concepts that the thought of a severe economic depression or war would put most households in a very precarious position. In purchasing the original farm in Hillsburgh Ontario this was front and centre in Malcolm’s thought processes.
It was Malcolm’s grandmother, Old Nanie, that taught him the value of producer consumer cooperatives, farming in a harsh climate, the flavor and the nutrition expressed in the crops grown as result of this cold reality. Where old Nanaie, who never did master the English language, taught him how to farm in the north it was his father Sam who opened up his imagination to the power of books. Sam was one of the many Canadian immigrants leaving economic and social strife in Europe. Born in the slums of Liverpool England Sam entered the great war of 1914 at the age of sixteen, naively believing this was a way out of crushing poverty. Fortunately his father was able to retrieve him from the trenches and brought him to his new home of Canada. Sam a gentle, thoughtful man never talked about the horrors he witnessed but the experience left an indelible mark that had left an impression on his only son.
At the age of fourteen Malcolm, on the families weekly visit to the Timmins library, selected a book called “Malabar Farm” written by Louis Bromfield. This was perhaps the most important literary treatise on regenerative agriculture that Malcolm was to read and it shaped his search for a homestead approximately 30 years later.