The Joy of Fish Guts

The soil at the Meechim farm site isn't great. It's a heavy clay soil, and there's not a lot of nutrients to grow healthy plants. Since our focus is to build a farm that is as locally sustainable as possible, we've turned to locally available products to improve the soil. 

That's right -- fish guts. Garden Hill First Nation has an active fishery and lots of beautiful fish. As they process fish right in the community, that also means they have lots of bi-catch and fish guts... just what we need to build the soil at the farm site. 

 A catch of red suckers and parasite-ridden pickerel couldn't be sold - so they became soil.

A catch of red suckers and parasite-ridden pickerel couldn't be sold - so they became soil.

We've been adding rotting fish to the fields as we plant them, buried in the ground so they don't attract bears. When we planted our orchard site, each tree was planted with a fish or two to add nutrients to the soil. We plan to keep building the soil with chicken manure and local compost and woodchips - but the rotten fish are giving our fields just the head start they need. 

Our research partners at the University of Manitoba planted two experimental beds - one containing fish guts and one without. Can you guess which on is which? 

 Big difference!

Big difference!

The difference is huge! While we may not love the smell, we're appreciating our partnership with the Wabung Fisher's Co-op in Garden Hill First Nation and the joys of fish guts on our farm.