Energy on the Andrew Hay Johnson Farm and Falmouth, Hants County, Nova Scotia

Figure 1a. Unloading barrels of apples, Falmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, ca. 1929. Used with permission. Canada Science and Technology Museum, Image No.: CN000789.

The Johnson Farm in Nova Scotia’s Hants County is an example of an organic intensive energy strategy in a Maritime horticultural agroecosystem. Andrew Hay Johnson (b. 1836/ d. 1914) reported owning and working a small 13-acre farm, in 1871; however, schedule 3 of the census notes that he also had 161.9 ha elsewhere in the Dominion of Canada, bringing his total amount of land to 167.9 ha.[1] Born in nearby Wolfville, he was the youngest child of William Johnson and Hannah Pettingell.[2] Johnson was situated on his Falmouth farm with three older women, Sophia Johnson, probably an aunt or cousin, Hannah Lantz, a servant, and his elderly mother. An active member of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association, Johnson was an advocate for the advancement of women in horticulture.[3] The Association’s prize lists show that he was a frequent winner for apples at local and provincial fairs.[4] In 1876, he married Oliva Pettingell Church of Falmouth. She was also active in the Association, especially in the advancement of women in horticulture. The couple had one child, a daughter Edith, born in 1877.[5]

Figure 1b. Google Map of Falmouth, Hants, Nova Scotia.

Figure 1c. Frederick B. Roe. Atlas of the Maritime Provinces of the Dominion of Canada, with Historical and Geological Descriptions. St. John, N. B., and Halifax, N. S.: Roe Brothers, 1879,

Farm Energy Funds*

In 1871, all 13 acres, or 5.3 hectares, of Johnson’s farm were cleared: 1.2 ha were in pasture, 1.8 ha were in cropland, 2 ha were designated garden or orchard, and .2 ha were in buildings and lanes. Johnson’s 2 ha of garden or orchard did double duty, producing fruit and hay. His reported five tons of hay were cut in the garden. His farm was diminutive when compared to the Falmouth CSD’s 6,879 ha. The Falmouth CSD was less than half occupied (3,295 ha), leaving the remaining land (3,584 ha) in woodland. Although Johnson reported having 12 cords of firewood and 28 cubic feet of sawn timber on hand, he did not have a woodlot on his 5.3 ha, so the wood must have come from his other land.

Figure 2a. Area Visualization for the Andrew Hay Johnson farm, 1871. The coloured rectangle represents Andrew Hay Johnson’s 5.3 ha, and the large grey polygon that engulfs that rectangle represents the 161.9 ha that was outside the Falmouth Census Subdivision. His 5.3 ha parcel was one hundred percent improved, and most of that land (2 ha) was in gardens or orchards. He had a small pasture (1.2 ha) and a small area for crops (1.8 ha).  We suggest that the much larger 161.9 ha was partially improved and that this is where about half of Johnson’s 230 bushels of apples were grown and where his 12 cords of wood and 28 cubic feet of sawn timber originated.
Figure 2b. Area Visualization for the Falmouth CSD, 1871. Note the 1,267.9 ha pastureland in the Falmouth CSD, some of which may have been available to Johnson’s livestock in order to relieve the pressure on his own 1.2 ha of pastureland. Although Johnson did not have salt marsh as part of his holding, the Falmouth CSD reported 467.41 ha of salt marsh, which was 14.19 percent of the CSD’s reported farmland.

That same year, 1871, Johnson reported having one horse and one colt or filly, two working oxen, two milk cows, one steer or heifer, four sheep, and no beehives. These figures diverge significantly from the average farm in the Falmouth CSD which had 1.1 horses over the age of three, .3 colts of fillies, .6 oxen, 1.9 milk cows, 2.5 other horned cattle, 5.3 sheep, 1.4 swine. and .83 of a beehive. Johnson slaughtered two cattle and four sheep. The average farm in the CSD, however, slaughtered 1.5 cattle, three sheep, and 1.4 swine. Johnson had 300 pounds of butter and 16 pounds of wool, but the average farm had 143.5 pounds of butter, 2.7 pounds of cheese, 18.6 pounds of wool, plus 6.7 pounds of honey, 13.2 yards of homemade flannel, and .9 of a yard of homemade linen. Johnson had an extremely high livestock density of 130.3 livestock units per km2 (LU/km2) and a grazing intensity of 4.2 ruminant units per hectare (LUr/ha) of pasture, if the animals were only pastured on his 5.3 ha. If his larger 167.1 ha is taken into consideration, then his LU/km2 drops to 4.1, but his LUr/ha remains at 4.2, because we do not know if there is more available pasture on the 161.9 ha. The Falmouth CSD’s livestock intensity and grazing intensity is 13.5 and .54 respectively.

Johnson had a feed deficit of 227,464 MJ and a litter deficit of 74,967 MJ. Thus, he would have relied heavily on imported biomass and on his residues, likely from his corn. Johnson may have also rented pasture from neighbouring farms to ease the pressure on his own 1.2 ha of pasture.

Farm Energy Flows*

A horticultural farm focused on dairy production as well as fruit and vegetables, the Johnson farm produced three bushels of peas, 15 bushels of barley, and 20 bushels of corn, in 1871. There were also root crops: 150 bushels of mangel wurzel,100 bushels of carrots, 200 bushels of turnips, and 300 bushels of potatoes. The orchard produced 230 bushels of apples and 12 bushels of “other” fruit, probably plums and pears. Johnson’s large amount of apples indicates that he was emerging as a significant orchardist in the Falmouth region by 1871. The Falmouth CSD reported 5,448 bu of apples, grown on 83 ha of gardens or orchards, or 65 bu of apples per ha. Johnson’s two ha of gardens or orchards were either producing 115 bu of apples per ha, or he was also growing apples on his additional 161.9 ha, and he reported them along with his other farm products on the 1871 census. Most probably, about half of Johnson’s apples came from his 2 ha of gardens or orchards, with the remainder coming from his other land. Either way, Johnson was producing seven times the amount of apples as the average farm in Falmouth (33 bu). The Johnson farm reinvested 62 percent of its grain and root crop biomass as feed and litter, which was about three-quarters of the 82.1 percent reinvested by farms in the Falmouth CSD.

Because Johnson had few ruminant livestock and focused on growing foods for human consumption, his farm reused less biomass than other farms in the Falmouth region that mostly grew crops to feed livestock. Johnson’s farm produced 24,521 MJ or 2.45 GJ from all his crops, including residuals, but excluding hay and apples. Additionally, his farm produced 15,853 MJ from animal products, including beef from two slaughtered cattle, mutton from four slaughtered sheep, and 300 pounds of butter. Johnson’s garden produced at least 1,730 MJ from fruit crops, and his hay produced an additional 81,647 MJ, for a total of 83,377 MJ. Given that Johnson’s garden or orchard was only 2 hectares, at 83 GJ/ha it was a highly productive environment.

The Livestock and Barnyard Produce for both the Johnson farm and the Falmouth CSD were similar with milk, butter, and slaughtered cattle being the biggest sources of energy. However, the Johnson farm derived more energy from butter than cattle, which was reversed for the Falmouth CSD.


Johnson was a significant orchardist. With 230 bushels of apples, he was seven times more productive than the average apple grower in Falmouth (33 bushels). However, the apples on this large and relatively specialized fruit operation represented a small share of the total energy balance, smaller than some of his feed crops and much less than the energy in fodder crops. In fact, even if we assume that Johnson planted his potato, carrot, and turnip crops in his garden for mainly human consumption, those 8 acres (3.2 ha) of small but carefully cultivated orchards and pastures yielded 12,547 MJ of produce for humans and 300,000 MJ of fodder for his small herd. Moreover, his animals consumed 7,457 MJ of corn and peas. They also used 9,320 MJ worth of barley residues for litter, and they consumed 205,422 MJ of residues from these and other crops as a supplement to their other feeds.

By the 1880s, Nova Scotia fruit growers had stepped into the global market and were shipping their productions to London, UK. In 1883, Johnson travelled to Britain to look into reports of damaged fruit arriving in London from Nova Scotia. He noted that the origin of the problem was two-fold: improper packaging of the fruit and rough handling of the apple barrels on Halifax and London docks.[6] Given that Johnson’s farm included livestock and cropland in addition to his garden and fruit trees, his farm economy may have been based on combined sales of apples and other fruits on the global market and production for his home and for local markets.

Figure 6. View from Pearson’s Farm – now Cedar Street – Hantsport, N. S., ca. 1895. This farm was in the same area as Johnson’s. Photographer A.E. Cornwall. Used with permission. Nova Scotia Archives 1984-497 number 133 /  negative: N-2707.

* For an explanation of terms in this profile, see the farm energy profiles project home page.

[1] “A.H. Johnson,” 1871 Census of Canada, RG31, C-10540, 566433, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Ottawa.

[2] Shirley B. Elliott, “Johnson, Andrew Hay,” DCB Online XIV, accessed June 17, 2021, Elliot notes that Johnson’s larger acreage was in the Town of Falmouth.

[3] Julian Gwyn, Comfort Me with Apples: The Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association, 1863-2013 (Berwick, NS: Lupin Press, 2014), 206. Gwyn also points out that prospects for apple production improved only in the late 1850s with the opening of a rail line from Halifax to Windsor. Prior to this apples had been of “very little consequence” and were not reported in the 1851 and 1861 censuses (Gwyn, 35-36). Therefore, in 1871, apple production in Nova Scotia was still a developing industry. Johnson’s farm, located across the Avon River from Windsor, was well situated to take advantage of both water transport and the rail line to Halifax, thereby securing two ways to get the farm’s apples and other products to market.

[4] Elliot, “Johnson,” DCB Online.

[5]  Edmund James Cleveland, The Genealogy of the Cleveland and Cleaveland Families. (Hartford, Conn.: Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., 1899), 1:1173, accessed June 17, 2021,

[6] Elliot, “Johnson,” DCB Online.