Farmer Friends: Part III
Our journey continued as we visited an additional 11 farms, in hopes of creating and sharing with you the best curated list of farmers ever compiled for London and area.
This project has and will continue to be about creating meaningful relationships between people and the food they eat, the land on which it is grown, those who grow it and the faces behind our favourite restaurants.
Many of our actions have a direct effect on the planet. As a result, we need to take care of the environment and this should be a concern and responsibility of every one of us. In the end, the consumer needs to make the right choice. Our hope is that our project, the book and the things we are sharing with you will encourage you all to support the farmers who grow products in healthy, well managed soil.
THE FUTURE OF OUR LAND IS AT RISK
Small farms struggle to survive and new ones are few and far between, as the costs associated with land and equipment are high. With this book, we hope that growers, farmers and consumers can learn about one another and begin to the process of working together to ensure a supply of healthy food while everyone can thrive economically.
Our last group of farms include:
Established in 2016. Family owned and operated by Jenn Cudmore and Rob Rombouts. Advocates for local food production and big fans of craft beer. They were looking for a small healthy piece of land for years, until they finally found a perfect place to start their new passion project: a hop farm. They started with trial crops for a few years, until last year they commercialize their first two acres, increasing that with two more in 2017. They are hoping to keep growing for the years to come. They currently grow Cascade, Centennial and Zeus. One of their many happy customers are the folks at London Brewing Co-Op, who uses their locally grown hops for special seasonal brews during the summer months.
VANDENBORRE FRUIT FARM:
The Vandenborre family have a long history of fruit farming. Maurice Vandenborre immigrated from Belgium in 1959 and started his first farm in 1964, the 'Vandenborre Fruit Farm'. Expanding into a second piece of land a few years later. Today, some fifty years later, Maurice still runs his farms with the help of his daughter, Ingrid, her husband Lino and their two daughters - Maurice's beloved granddaughters.
Their land is dedicated mainly to different varieties of apples, but they also grow sweet cherries, raspberries and the most incredible peaches, the family favourites!
Maurice is well recognized in the apple farming industry thanks to his one of a kind self-propelled apple harvester. Designed in collaboration with a German engineer, this apple harvester allows them to avoid using the "dangerous ladders".
Located in Aylmer, ON.
FIELD FRESH FARMS:
Established in 2016 by Matt Marchioni. After many years of studying, working and learning from several farmers across Ontario, Matt decided to embark on his own venture. He grows a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, meat and eggs. His favourite part of the journey is being out in nature, but he also enjoys the meaningful relationships created with all his CSA members. His incredible personality, great spirit and passion for food is what makes this farm and his vegetables so special.
Located 50 minutes north west of London in Ailsa Craig, ON.
APPLEMEADOW ORGANIC FARM:
Certified Organic Farm and Labrador Breeders. Steve and Linda VandenBorre’s farm has been in the family for forty-six years. Bought originally by Steve’s parents, who immigrated from Belgium in 1956. They sell a wide range of certified organic vegetables and their favourite part of farming is attending the farmer market and being able to connect with people. They are 100% dedicated to quality and show a true passion and desire to establish meaningful relationships through thier vegetables.
Located 45 minutes east of London in Norwich, ON. You can also find them during the fall at the Covent Garden Outdoors Market.
Urban Roots is a non-profit organization created by Heather, Richie, Graham and Jeremy, four strangers from four different backgrounds, who have been brought together through the power of food. Their mission is to use vacant spaces in the city to grow vegetables, bringing the community together, provide food education and offer a wide range of locally grown vegetables to many neighbourhoods.
They are currently located on Nolan Ave in London, but they hope to slowly expand to as many vacant spaces as possible across the Forest City.
You can learn more and support what they are doing through: Urban Roots Gofundme
Established in 1992, Blanbrook Bison Farm is owned and operated by Bruce and Shirley Mills. Bruce has a huge admiration for these incredible animals, which drove him to make the decision to dedicate his entire life to them. Bison are very majestic animals and the original red meat source of our country. Before Europeans brought over cattle and for the past 15 years, Bruce has been spending his days taking care of more than one hundred of them, learning their behaviours and ultimately becoming one of the most experienced and passionate farmers in Ontario. Proudly recognized by the Ontario Bison Association.
Blanbrook offers all different cuts of locally grown-nutritious bison meat, leather hides, horns, skulls, and robes.
Located 50 minutes north of London in St Mary's, ON.
KAWTHOOLEI FARM ORGANICS:
Certified Organic vegetables, herbs and handcrafted products. Pam Rogers grew up surrounded by her family's big gardens. Here she could find all kinds of vegetables and herbs, which surely played a role in developing her big interest in food - good food. Pam is also passionate about helping those in need, a major reason why she's been doing social work in the Thailand-Burma border for the past 17 years. Her love for people and food was major factor in deciding to start her own farm and it gives her the ability to provide quality food for people that she cares about. Pam named her farm, Kawthoolei Farm Organics, which translated means "Land without Evil". On her "Land without Evil" she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, mushrooms and more..
You can find Pam during the summer and fall at the Covent Garden Market or visit her farm, 60 minutes north east of London at Staffa, ON.
Loco Fields is owned and operated by Ryan and Mindy. They follow high standards of quality, socially responsible practices and are always pushing the boundaries with the variety of vegetables they grow. This includes over fifty types of vegetables and herbs, with nearly two-hundred individual varieties. They focus on specialty produce, unique vegetables and herbs, fostering great relationships with local chefs and customers and promotig sustainable practices for building a better planet for the generations to follow.
You can find them every Saturday at the Western Fair Farmers Market or visit their farm, located 45 minutes north east of London in Stratford, ON.
PAUL SPENCE FARM:
Paul Spence comes from a family of farmers, so his curiosity and interest in understanding the food system isn't a surprise. Paul prides himself on doing what he can to promote and reintroduce authentic farming, like it used to be before industrialization came into play. Paul has been doing extensive research on the true flavours of the Chatham-Kent region and has been working hard on re-educating the minds of the modern/commercialized consumers. Paul raises goats, grows kakai pumpkins and heritage grains.
For Paul, food is not only something you chew on, it is tradition, flavour, nutrition, culture, memories and much more. Keeping those values alive for his children and yours, is one of Paul’s biggest goals!
Organic Certified. 35 years ago, in Japan, Mr. Yoshinobu Odaira began his journey of bringing healthier food with medicinal properties closer to people. He started growing bean sprouts until he discovered the incredible properties of Maitake Mushrooms and how they can be used to treat certain ailments and diseases. Mr. Odaira decided to sell his original factory in Japan and it took him three years to design a system for growing Maitake mushrooms indoors. After spending many years testing and perfecting his system, he decided to move to Canada about a year ago. Yoshinobu ultimate goal is to make his mushrooms affordable and available all over the world.
Located 18 minutes south of Downtown London and available every Saturday at the Western Fair Farmers Market.
Established in the 1950's. Currently owned and operated by the De Martinez family. Fred started his journey in Europe, where he learned all about the different breeds, feed and how to properly take care of a herd. All that knowledge opened the door for a new venture, coming to Canada and running a Pork farm, buying Perth Pork in 1979. Fred currently raises heritage breeds, wild boars and a cross breed between Yorkshire, Landrace and Duroc. Fred credits developing his own secret feed, which he says, make his pork stand out from the rest.
Located 56 minutes north east of London, in Sebringville, ON.
*Special thanks to Chef Chad Steward for being the connection with all this great farmers..
You can be part of the local food movement too, create a sustainable environment for your children, thank and support our farmers and always choose good food first!
Welcome to the forest city table!
Photos by: Alieska Robles