by Rosalyn Roy
Jadian Hibbs-Blackmore’s love of woodcrafts dates back to his childhood, when he lived near the woods and would wander in to find something to whittle with a little knife.
“I had great influence from one of my family members, who are all woodworkers and in the trade,” says Jadian. “It really, really took off when I was about 13. I started making a lot of spoons and a lot of other furniture items.”
Tables, chairs, shelves and bookcases are among Jadian’s repertoire. He’s had formal training, having completed the Cabinetmaker program at the College of the North Atlantic’s Port aux Basques campus last year.
“I learned all the fine millwork,” says Jadian. “All the fine detail.”
He hopes to make woodworking part of his career path, but Jadian isn’t ready to hang up a sign just yet. He’s just finishing up the first semester of a two year program to become an agriculture technician.
“One day I’d like to have my own farm and my own woodshop.”
The dream is to eventually settle in the Codroy Valley, keep livestock, grow crops and build in a responsible and eco-friendly manner.
“It’s good soil up there and a good climate to grow in,” says Jadian. “What I’ve always kind of wanted on my farm is a no-kill farm, a vegan farm I guess you’d say. So we’re not necessarily killing the animals, we’re just using their byproducts and letting the animals live their lives.”
Jadian is part of the younger generation that the provincial government’s agriculture programs have been targeting. In order to deal with the problem of long-term food sustainability, the province has been dropping various incentives to draw fledgling entrepreneurs to an industry that has been struggling to attract them for years.
There are students of different ages in his class, and Jadian says food sustainability is a key component of the program.
“That is a big issue. That’s one of the main topics that we talk about is developing farms within the province so we don’t have to depend on other places for food.”
Responsible farming is also part of the curriculum. Whereas farming used to be mostly generational knowledge handed down from parent to child, there’s a lot more information for prospective farmers to avail of as technology has continued to improve.
“What happened in the 30s with the Great Dust Bowl, that was all just over tillage and no nutrient management, and they weren’t really caring for the soil.”
While he continues his studies, Jadian carves spoons and walking sticks, which he sells online. He will even fill custom design orders if he can.
“It is a little bit more fine work, but I do a couple of things on my own just for practice.”
Jadian makes two different sizes of spoons, which are meant to be both practical cooking utensils but also attractive and unique enough to serve as a show piece. With Christmas almost here, he’s had plenty of orders to fill.
“I’ve been making spoons pretty much every day.”
Like many artists, Jadian can be particular when it comes to the raw materials he uses, assessing grains and textures before selecting a particular piece of wood. He likes to stick to hard wood, and he sources most of it in the Codroy Valley.
“Whatever wood I take, I also re-plant back,” says Jadian. “I think my favourite to carve with is birch because it’s got really a crispy texture, and you can slide the knife right through it, and it makes a nice, clean slice.”
The one he finds most visually appealing is cherry.
“You get your darker reds, lighter reds, purples and browns. Really beautiful.”
It takes him about an hour or so to craft a spoon. The smaller ones, less than six inches in length, usually go for about $5 and the larger ones, up to a foot long, tend to go for $10.
“I just put a lot of extra work into things that you would probably use to eat with,” says Jadian. “I love it.”