Meet Our Amazing Producers
The Mustard Seed’s farmers light up our produce department with fresh, nutritious, super-local fruits, vegetables, and herbs. You can read about many of our regular farmers below. We will be adding to this page over time with new farmer profiles so you can truly know where your food comes from!
Hamilton, Ontario – 400m to the Co-op
Russ Ohrt, an early owner of the The Mustard Seed Co-op, launched Backyard Harvest in spring 2009 as an urban farm using organic practices and the principles of small plot intensive farming.
Backyard Harvest is the Co-op’s most local farmer, growing produce in eleven backyards in the Strathcona, Kirkendall, and North End neighbourhoods. An additional plot is farmed at the Sisters of St. Joseph Convent, just beyond Cootes Paradise.
As one of our most frequent and reliable producers, Russ and his incredible team of people provide the Co-op with a wide variety of extremely fresh produce including kale, chard, arugula, and tomatoes, often picked from the field and onto our shelves within minutes. Deliveries are made numerous times a week in season, often by bike trailer.
Backyard Harvest is also available at Locke Street Farmers’ Market from late May to early November and provides CSA food shares for forty households in the community.
Cambridge, Ontario – 58 km to the Co-op
As a fourth generation of family farmers and food producers, Barrie’s Asparagus farms asparagus, rhubarb, sweet corn and pumpkin at Tim Barrie’s Cedardale Farm in Cambridge, Ontario.
Barrie’s is the main supplier of fresh asparagus to the Co-op, having grown it for forty years. They do not use any sprays during the spring asparagus harvest season, and are low-spray to control weeds after the harvest season ends.
Barrie’s Asparagus has also partnered with 15 local Ontario companies to manufacture healthy, delicious foods including chips, salsa and pickles with asparagus from their fields and other local ingredients when possible. Their wheat crackers are locally made in Kitchener.
With family roots growing potatoes in the Alliston area, they also manufacture Spud’s Finest Ontario Kettle Chips, named after Tim’s mom whose nickname was “Spud”. Tim’s family was one of the Co-op’s first suppliers, and he or his daughters still make all their deliveries in person.
Mount Hope, Ontario – 26 km to the Co-op
Common Ground is a teaching farm that grows relationships to food. It was created by two avid urban farmers who want to bridge the gap between rural and urban ways of life. One of the founders, Michael Mikulak, PhD, is author of The Politics of the Pantry, available at the Co-op. His area of specialty is in sustainable food systems.
The farm utilizes cutting edge regenerative organic techniques and tools to mimic and strengthen natural cycles without the use of synthetic chemicals, pesticides or herbicides. With over 100 varieties of fresh, seasonal heirloom fruits and vegetables, their system of production is biointensive and low impact. Their goal is to produce food to feed 125 people for 25 weeks on ½ acre of highly productive, non-certified organic land, and leaving the soil and environment in a better state than they found it.
As a teaching farm, Common Ground promotes agricultural literacy and building local food networks. The farm provides field to fork workshops in their outdoor kitchen, trains the next generation of farmers, and pays a living wage to its workers. Workshops are offered as well as consulting to help people grow and preserve food. They also have preserves, pickles and various prepared foods à-la-cart through their participation in The Kitchen Collective co-op.
They have innovative sustainability initiatives including a covered outdoor teaching kitchen with a wastewater system modeled after a marsh, and a straw bale, solar-powered walk-in cooler, and delivery by THAAT bicycle couriers.
Common Ground is committed to nurturing the earth, people’s health, and the community through the power of good food.
Brantford, Ontario – 27 km to the Co-op
Heart’s Content Organic Farm has been operating since 2007, and has been certified organic since 2014. Richard Tunstall works with new farmers to grow a wide variety of heirloom vegetables, fruit and medicinal herbs. Dedicated to sustainable farming and permaculture, Heart’s Content Organic Farm has started the process by planting berries, fruit and nut trees.
Belgian work horses Molly and Dano help with heavy field work, reducing the use of tractors and fossil fuel. Baashebaa and Baahar, their sheep help keep the grounds tidy. Jill the donkey guards the farm, and loves to be petted.
Dr. Tunstall is also a Naturopathic doctor and runs an off-grid Eco-Health Centre on the farm. Heart’s Content Organic Farm runs educational workshops on a variety of topics from mushroom growing to wild edible and medicinal plant walks. Please check their Facebook page and website for up to date details. Heart’s Content Organic Farm sells produce, herbs and wildcrafted plants through CSA shares, the Ancaster and Brantford farmers’ markets, and to Mustard Seed Co-op, restaurants, and an herbal company.
Millgrove, Ontario – 9 km
Kate Flynn and Jon Gowing run Honest Field Farms on two acres in Millgrove, just north of downtown Hamilton. They lease land from Farmstart’s Earth to Table Farm, a non-profit organization supporting new farmers by providing access to land and equipment.
Honest Field Farms grows unique and heirloom varieties of vegetables, as well as timeless favourites. Their farm is certified organic by Ecocert Canada. They are committed to growing produce for quality and taste, with the environment and the next generation of consumers and producers in mind.
Their organic practices include using high-quality inputs such as compost and natural fertilizers, integrated pest and disease management strategies, and innovative growing methods and technologies. This helps them to grow fresh produce without having to compromise the health of their products by using pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.
The farm offers a CSA membership program and sells at the local farmers’ markets, including Ancaster and Waterdown. You can also see more photos of the farm on this Hamilton Farm Tours blog post from The Mustard Seed’s 2015 tour of Honest Field Farm.
Copetown, Ontario – 25km to the Co-op
Jerry’s Berries Raspberry Farm is family-owned and run by Jerry and Glenda Bargeman. As second generation raspberry farmers, they took over the Copetown farm in 2008 from their parents Nick and Dia Godyn, who had been growing berries since 1980.
The 3 acre farm has excellent soil, ideal for growing their delicious, red raspberries. Their growing philosophy is “keep your soil alive and your plants will thrive”. The farm implemented an Integrated Pest Management System in 2010 which has kept spraying to a minimum. They use local pickers only, providing jobs to people in the area.
Jerry’s Berries offer u-pick, (and sells) pre-picked raspberries at the farm. The raspberries are also available at six local Farmer’s Markets and at The Mustard Seed. The summer raspberries are ready usually the first week in July until mid-August. Their fall raspberries are available in late August. From November to April, their frozen raspberries are an alternate option to imported fruit – available in our freezer section at the Co-op!
Newmarket, Ontario – 110 km to the Co-op
Kind Organics is a certified organic farm located near Newmarket in Southern Ontario. It was started by Sandra and Tamas Dombi and is run by a community of health minded employees, interns and volunteers.
Kind Organics produce is grown on their almost 5 acres of land and inside their 9 greenhouses. To preserve the rich nutrient and microbial content of the soil, they till the ground minimally.
The farm grows many type of greens, herbs and vegetables and produce Salad Blends, Sprouts, Wheat Grass, Micro Greens, Fine Culinary Herbs, Edible Flowers and various kinds of Baby Greens. Their packaged salad greens and sprouts are available year-round at the Co-op.
The farm is also a certified Bee Friendly Farm (BFF), an initiative that encourages growers to improve the health of bees, one of the most important pollinators. The “Bee Friendly Farmer” is an inclusive term to recognize Bee Friendly supporters who champion bees on all scales of landscape – farms, ranches, businesses, school groups, gardeners, beekeepers, local governments, non-profit organizations, on both private and public grounds.
Kind Organics is also a part of the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) community. WWOOF offers travelers the opportunity to stay on a farm in exchange for room and board. To learn more about WWOOF at Kind Organics, please visit their profile on the website.
Koike Family Farm
Milgrove, Ontario – 11 km to the Co-op
The Koike Family Farm is owned and operated by second generation family farmers. Their 19 acre farm is located near the village of Millgrove approximately 11 km north of The Mustard Seed Co-op; 4 acres are rotated for vegetable production.
For the past 20 years, their farm has integrated both organic farming practices and conventional farming methods to produce a great variety of high quality vegetables. During this time they have grown heirloom, ethnic and traditional varieties of vegetables including kale, Swiss chard, beets, garlic, onions, lettuce, spinach, radishes, herbs, rhubarb, cabbage, kohlrabi, eggplant, summer and fall squashes, celeriac, Asian greens, etc.
The variety of vegetables was requested by The Mustard Seed as well as their customers at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market (formerly Centre Mall Farmers) and the Ottawa Street Farmers’ Market (today), as well as local chefs including Chef Ken (Nellie James Gourmet Food-to-Go, Dundas and Nellie James Too, Hamilton), Chef Ryan (School Sisters of Notre Dame, Waterdown) and Chef Jeff Crump (Ancaster Mill).
The high quality and wonderful flavour of their vegetables are accomplished by use of biodiversity such as crop rotation, mixed plantings, organic fertilizers as in natural vegetation green manure, wheat straw and leaf composting (over 150 bags of leaves per year incorporated). They also use crop diversity and traditional seeds. Koike Family Farm selects vegetable varieties for their resistance to disease and insects as well as their adaptability to weather changes. The farm does use commercial fertilizers, however, to supplement the nutritional requirements of the vegetables.
Weed management is labour intensive!! Weed control is mainly done manually, mechanically and physically by employing such methods as weeding by hand, hoeing, mulching and tilling. In some crops insect control is also challenging. Where physically possible, insects are manually removed i.e. adult Colorado Potato Beetles and larvae feeding on eggplants. Although the majority of their vegetables are grown without the use of sprays, sometimes these organic practices fail to control the pests on certain crops like onions and radishes and they will use limited application of “low spray”.
To ensure that their customers can truly enjoy Koike Family Farm vegetables at the peak of their freshness and highest quality, they make every effort to deliver on the same day as harvest. As part of their community involvement, they have donated excess produce to Good Shepherd located in the Beasley Community in Hamilton.
Lakelee Orchards Ltd.
Jordan Station, Ontario – 48 km to the Co-op
Lakelee Orchards Ltd. is a fruit farm owned by 3rd and 4th generation farmers Ron, Doug, Len and Dean Troup. Established in 1972 by the brothers’ dad and uncle, the farm grows plums, grapes, sweet cherries, sour cherries, apricots, prunes, nectarines, pears and peaches. They are the largest pear and sweet cherry growers in Ontario.
With over 100 stores on their vendor list, including the Co-op, Lakelee Orchards Ltd. has direct-to-store delivery to provide the freshest produce that are packed to order the night before and out the door in the morning. Despite their scale, the Troup brothers value the personal connection from meeting their customers.
Smithville, Ontario – 25 km to the Co-op
Lincoln Line Orchards has been producing fruit for the last fifty years. As a family farm owned by Peter and Mary Bosman, all six of their children, help during peak seasons of labour, pruning or harvest.
The farm is 66 acres with about 45 acres for orchard production. Growing various varieties of apples, pears and some plums, the Bosmans have planted peaches and nectarines for future harvest.
Smaller dwarf trees are grown on the farm, as they are part of the modern management of fruit farming. They also bear fruit of more colour and size. Often the dwarf trees are staked to give added support. In drought situations, trickle irrigation is used to provide the additional moisture needed.
With a completed Environmental Farm Plan, Lincoln Line Orchards uses an Integrated Pest Management techniques on the farm. There is minimal use of insecticides. Pheromone disruptors are used instead to prevent insect outbreaks. Peter has also installed 4 bat boxes on high poles on the farm, each with the capacity to hold six hundred bats, to control insects in the orchard naturally. He has plans to install bird houses in Spring 2016 as well. Minimal use of herbicide helps to control the weeds in early spring. Then mulch and mowing are applied for weed control the rest of the season. The mulch is made from wood chipping the orchard trees’ pruned branches. The farm produces no packaging waste and has reusable packaging for their bushels.
They have also have installed a 10kw solar project for producing electricity as part of their plan, selling the extra energy back to the grid. Lincoln Line Orchards is also at the Binbrook Farmer’s Market from mid-June to the beginning of October.
Niagara Lettuce Co. is a first generation family farm owned and operated by Karleen and Derek Schulze with help with their extended family. Karleen and Derek have been finding their way in the greenhouse industry ever since leaving their cancer research positions at Queen’s university to follow a dream in 2002.
Their principal market has been and continues to be garden centre material, turning special attention to lettuce production more recently. Perhaps it was the lure of practicality, or simply the new challenges that drew them to the leafy produce.
If you ask, Karleen and Derek will say that their two children are tired of English Ivy and Dipladenia (a tropical vine). Nevertheless, they have been growing lettuce for less than a year and have completely fallen in love with it. Naturally they are on a learning curve, but are catching on quickly, providing fresh heads of living lettuce locally.
Their production methods are geared towards safety for their family, meaning no fungicides or pesticides. Karleen and Derek have been using biological controls for many years now and with great success. They get regular shipments of tiny bugs that fly, crawl and burrow towards any and all unwanted pests in the greenhouse.
They rely on a home-made NFT production system that is expanding as fast possible. Niagara Lettuce Co. place special emphasis on value for the customer, with taste, size and quality of the lettuce. They are always experimenting with new lettuce varieties, and The Mustard Seed looks forward to sharing these new varieties with our owners!
Campden, Ontario – 56 km to the Co-op
Pear Blossom Orchard is a small family farm established by Elaine Aquan-Yuen and her family in 2014. Leaving the suburbs of Burlington in search of wide, open spaces and a slower pace, Elaine and her family settled in Campden, close by in the beautiful wine region of Niagara.
With a renewed sense of purpose, Elaine runs Pear Blossom Orchard as a small-scale organic and sustainable farmer, practicing permaculture techniques.
The main commercial output of the orchard is vine-ripened Heirloom tomatoes, but Elaine also grows micro greens, Asian greens, super-hot peppers, garlic, kale and cucumbers for local restaurants.
She is excited for the new foods she hopes to grow, including figs, ginger, Asian pears, Goji berries, and Jerusalem artichokes.
As a new farmer, the challenges sometime feel overwhelming but the reward of providing fresh wholesome produce to appreciative customers gives Elaine immense pride. Pear Blossom Orchard is also available at Grimsby Farmers’ Market.
New Hamburg, Ontario – 82 km
Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables is owned and operated by Wolfgang and Regina Pfenning, with Ekk and Jenn Pfenning, third generation farmers. Wolfgang and Ekkehard’s parents Wilhelm and Barnhild immigrated their family of four children in fall 1981 and settled near New Hamburg, Ontario and have remained there since. As an early adopter and leader of organic farming, Wilhelm had the farm first certified organic in 1985, and every year since.
As Ontario’s largest certified organic vegetable farm, Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables grows a variety of produce, as well as grains and legumes. They believe in a nurturing relationship with the eco-system, producing nutrient-rich, delectable produce.
They also pack and distribute for local organics farms and import organic produce such as fair trade bananas for partners further away. Their products are sold wholesale to retail stores, restaurants, caterers and food processors.
Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables is committed to providing organic wholesome vegetables for everyone.
For more info on Pfennings, see this Edible Toronto article
Dunnville, Ontario – 67 km to the Co-op
James is the fifth generation in his family to farm along River Road in beautiful Haldimand County, 10 km from the town of Dunnville and 16 km from the town of Cayuga. While most of his family operate beef, dairy and cash crop operations, he took an interest in fruit and vegetables when he and his dad purchased the farm adjacent to where he grew up in 1996. There was ¼ acre of strawberries planted for pick-your-own and a small volume of customers that ordered pre-picked strawberries. Twenty years later, they now have 7 acres of strawberries, including both June bearing and everbearing varieties, 25 acres of sweet corn, along with tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, raspberries, garlic, and peppers. Richardson’s Farm attend 6 different farmers’ markets May-October and operate their own produce stand 6 days per week from the beginning of strawberry season until Labour Day.
Since 2008 all of the Richardson’s strawberries, sweet corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, and squash have been grown using Integrated Pest Management (IPM). They use natural products such as garlic, molasses, and seaweed or organic sprays to control pests wherever possible, however at times conditions become extreme (e.g., extremely wet conditions or widespread bugs that threaten the crops) and require some application of conventional insecticide or fungicide. They make every effort to keep the use of chemicals to an absolute minimum. Part of their efforts to make their farm greener and their crops healthier for their customers.
Another family tradition that continues to thrive on their farm is making maple syrup. Every year from Family day until the first weekend of April, Richardson’s Farm is open to the public and offer tours and a delicious brunch with pure maple syrup. They finish off the busiest part of their year with “Fall Fun on the Farm”, offering a corn maze, wagon rides, lots of pumpkins to choose from and other fun activities for all ages. Between the spring sugar bush and fall corn maze seasons, the farm hosts over a thousand school children each year. They also have a health inspected kitchen in the on-farm market, where they make homemade jams, jellies, preserves, pies, tarts, cookies and muffins from scratch. They work diligently to make sure that everything that leaves the farm gate is top quality. James, Kirsten and their 3 children hope you enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Ancaster, Ontario – 21 km to the Co-op
Scotscraig Farm is a small 50 acre family farm in rural Ancaster growing a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers. Malcolm and Kathie Clark and their son Cameron have owned the farm for 30 years and have been concentrating on vegetables since 2008. Although Scotscraig Farm is not certified, they practice organic methods such as crop rotation and mulching for weed control. Soil fertility is maintained with composted manure from their own sheep, vegetable compost, and cover crops. Techniques and materials used are only those allowed by the organic standards.
They have grown an extensive selection of vegetables including arugula, mixed greens, beans, kale, celery, cucumbers, onions, leeks, peas, peppers, potatoes, and zucchini. Their specialty is tomatoes, growing 30 – 40 tomato varieties every year. Their favorite varieties are heirlooms such as Red and Yellow Brandywine, Copia, and Juane Flamme. They also grow San Marzano and Roma paste tomatoes and cherry tomatoes such as Sungold, Black and White cherry.
Scotscraig Farm products are available through several retail outlets including The Mustard Seed Co-op, and at the farm gate.
Dunnville, Ontario – 66 km to the Co-op
Shared Harvest Community Farm is comprised of a group of young farmers, interns and community volunteers. The registered non for profit community farm is managed by Kevin Hamilton and Sandra Claudi.
As a certified organic vegetable farm by Eco-Cert, Shared Harvest Community Farm is committed to growing food in an environmentally sustainable way that nourishes the soil, the plants and people’s bodies. They do not use chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers. The farm uses compost teas, seaweed extracts and natural biologicals to feed and enrich the soil and to maintain healthy plants.
Entering its fourth year of operation, the farm is located on approximately seven acres of fields and mixed gardens. There are over 40 types of vegetables and close to 100 different varieties cultivated for their 80 member CSA.
There is a lot of companion planting, raised bed building and the planting of a small orchard. The farm also does as much seed saving as possible. To keep the soil in their three-year field cycle rich and nutritious, chickens & pigs are incorporated into the rotation.
Besides growing fresh produce, they also process food by dehydrating, freezing, canning, fermenting and pickling in their certified kitchen to stretch the share boxes well into the winter.
Cooking classes, dinner nights, educational workshops, and health and wellness classes are offered at the farm too. They also host an annual “TurnIp the BeEts” music festival. Shared Harvest helps low income families with subsidized food boxes through the “Let’s Eat Right Dunnville” program. For updates on workshops and concerts, follow their Facebook page.
The Farm works very close together with Dunnville schools and organizes educational farm tours for kids and teenagers, offers COOP positions. Kevin and Sandra are also involved with the Dunnville D.R.E.A.M. Program.
Hamilton, Ontario – 19 km to the Co-op
Located in Hamilton, Simpler Thyme Organic Farm is a non-certified organic farm growing over 100 varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs. Owned and operated by Bill Orosz, Ann Lanigan, Mike Lanigan and Charles Aubin, Simpler Thyme mentors young farmer interns in the area, sharing their love for food and soil with a new generation of growers.
The farm’s forest garden is full of annuals, perennials, raised beds, and people friendly paths on its 5 acres of vegetables and herbs, 10 acres of young fruit trees, nut trees, berries, and 25 acres of woodlot for maple syrup, shiitake mushrooms and wild leeks.
Committed to natural and sustainable practices, Simpler Thyme has minimal tillage and soil compression, use crop rotation, mulching, composting, green manure, Hugelkultur and permaculture techniques. They collect the Co-op’s produce, bakery and dairy waste to use as feed for their pigs, chicken, geese and ducks.
Simpler Thyme has a CSA program (Community Shared Agriculture). They are also at the Waterdown Farmer’s Market every Saturday, May to October end and provide produce for the McMaster University farmstand. They are open at the farm every Thursday from April to December for their wonderful produce, eggs, maple syrup, dried herbs and teas and host Flamborough Open Farms in the fall.
Waterford, Ontario – 59 km to the Co-op
Located in Waterford, Ontario, Sovereign Farms is family-operated vegetable greenhouse specializing in grape tomatoes by by Wes and Brenda Sovereign. The plants are grown from February to December each year. Production starts in late April and goes through to Christmas.
Dedicated to growing environmentally friendly grape tomatoes, Sovereign Farms uses integrated pest management extensively in their greenhouse. A variety of wasps and mites are established in the greenhouse micro environment to control the unwanted pests. Bumble bees are brought into the greenhouse to assist in the pollination of the flowers.
Their fertilization system is computer controlled to carefully monitor the nutrients to maximize the flavour of their grape tomatoes. The ideal greenhouse climate is also computer controlled to enhance the growing process. The heating, cooling and humidity are all kept in balance to optimize plant growth. Their greenhouse is enriched with CO2 for improved plant and fruit quality.
Their field produce is watered through a drip irrigation system. Some produce is also grown on black mulch with a drip line running in the root zone. Their bean plantings are grown on bare ground irrigated with a drip line positioned between the rows. The drip irrigation ensures an even coverage of moisture while conserving water. Sovereign Farms is also a distributor, direct from their farm to terminal. In addition to The Mustard Seed, they are also available at the Ancaster Farmer’s Market.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario – 78 km to the Co-op
St David’s Hydroponics was formed in 1985, bringing Dutch greenhouse design to Niagara-on-the-Lake. With over 70 acres of greenhouses, St David’s Hydroponics can control the environment and provide their plants with ideal growing conditions from the temperature to humidity and sunlight. Each greenhouse is a technological marvel with its own closed system.
Their growers have over 100 years of combined experience gained from training around the world, each dedicated to St David’s Hydroponics’ sustainability initiative. As a low spray operation, no nutrient solution ever reaches the groundwater; it is all reused within the greenhouses. They use a soil substitute called coconut fibre, which their suppliers buy back to put into another use after it’s done at St David’s Hydroponics.
The remaining vines and leaves after the plants reach their lifespan are passed to local farmers’ methane digester to pull methane to generate electricity for their farms.
From capturing rainwater to irrigate their plants, to using bees for pollination to collection the CO² generated in their greenhouses and feeding it back to the plants, St David’s Hydroponics’ goal it to be as carbon neutral as possible.
In addition to their work with local charities and committees, they also provide fresh produce to local families in need through organizations like Community Care, The Grimsby Benevolent Fund, Foodshare Hamilton and the Ontario Christian Gleaners.
Brantford, Ontario – 46 km to the Co-op
Entering its third year, Talondale Farm was established by owner Matt Mills. Born and raised in Hamilton, Matt has always had an interest in how human activities fit within the larger ecological functions of the landscape.
Talondale farm is located on land owned by Little Brown Cow Dairy, just outside of Brantford, Ontario. Currently the farm is non-certified organic but does not use any pesticides or synthetic fertilizer and aims to certify in 2016.
Talondale Farm grows a wide variety of vegetables and herbs with a focus on garlic, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, various greens, and beans. Their produce is available in season from the Little Brown Cow on-site farm store, the Mustard Seed Co-op and served at several restaurants in the Hamilton area.
As part of Talondale’s mission to improve local biodiversity, the farm sells more than 50 species of native perennials and shrubs. Matt also offers consulting services to homeowners interested in native plant and pollinator gardens.
Partner farm Little Brown Cow sells fresh Jersey cheese curds every weekend on the farm, and also produce beef, as well as hard and soft cheese on site. Cool Creek Apiaries operate adjacent to Talondale’s fields to aid in pollination. Ask about raw Ontario Honey available in 1 lb. and 1 kg-sized jars.
For Matt, farming combines many of the best things in life: planting seeds, spending time outdoors, eating good food and meeting new people.When he isn’t farming Matt serves on the executive of the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch and assists with planning and development at the Urquhart Butterfly Garden in Dundas.
Innerkip, Ontario – 76 km to the Co-op
Thames River Melons is a local family farm in Innerkip, Ontario run by Rob Chesney. After graduating from the University of Guelph, Rob established his farm in 1984 by growing selling half an acre of cantaloupe, his favourite melon. Today, Thames River Melons is a 500-acre spread with greenhouses & beehives & the facilities necessary for cultivating, harvesting & marketing a wide array of vegetables, berries & honey, and a wide assortment of melons. Rob’s varieties of melons include cantaloupe, red watermelon, yellow watermelon, both seedless and seeded. He also grows specialty melons include canary melons and the French Charentais melon, a small dessert melon, aromatic and rich in flavour, described by Rob as a cross between mango and papaya. Honeydews are also grown on the farm, though they are tough to produce in the rainy Ontario climate.
Their focus has always been on sustainably producing the freshest and best fruits and vegetables possible. Rob believes sustainability is the overlap of economic possibility, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Thames River Melons’ farming practices include planting cover crops, rotationally planting crops, and using minimal water usage with their trickle irrigation. They also keep 75 hives of bees to pollinate their crops. With strong community ties, they hire local people as much as possible, both part time or full time, and offers positions to students in the summer time.
Thames River Melons can be found at a variety of farmers markets and local food stores including The Mustard Seed Co-op.
Milgrove, Ontario – 9 km to the Co-op
Weathervane Farms is a sustainable family farm operating in Hamilton, Ontario by owners Joanne and Igor Kasprzycki. It is operated through the Earth to Table Farmstart program.
As a non-certified organic farm, they grow vegetables and herbs without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. They employ drip irrigation and use plastic mulch on the fields.
Along with their selection of produce, Joanne and Igor also offer Pastured Heritage Breed Pork.
Joanne and Igor developed their love of organic agriculture when they helped to build and operate the Gage Park Community Garden as its coordinators. The community garden provides over 20 families in the Gage Park area with an opportunity to grow their own vegetables, to teach their children about agriculture and allow everyone to connect with their neighbors.
Weathervane Farms is a also CSA farm and is available at the Ottawa Street Farmer’s Market from late June until late October.