Sustainability

Sustainable farming matters to us! Learn about some of the sustainable farming practices we use to grow the highest quality fruits and vegetables here in Ontario

Sustainability matters to us

Our family has earned a lively-hood off 425 acres. Over 1/3 of that acreage (156 acres) is still dedicated to wildlife in the form of old growth forests, ponds, fence rows, and wetlands. As the family farm got passed down through each generation, so did our values; To farm sustainably so that the business can be a viable option to be farmed for generations. Respect and appreciation for the value of natural areas and the mentality of working with nature, not against it.

Farming Practices

Market Garden

For the past several years we have been working with Farms at Work to improve the habitat and population of our Squash Bees which are crucial for growing our Pumpkin crop. In the process we created a truly unique and diverse garden full of an assortment of beneficial insects, pollinators, flowers, fruits and vegetables.

 

Intercropping flowers between eggplant and other vegetables to improve beneficial insect diversity and farm sustainability

Without a doubt, we have been seeing more insect diversity in all of our fields. We believe that greater diversity contributes to greater crop resilience. The more competition from predatory and pollinating insects helps keep pest pressures under control and helps improve the quality and quantity of the food that we produce. 

Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Pollinator)
Walking stick hiding in our watermelon field (they are harmless)
Golden-rod Soldier Beetle patrolling for pests like aphids
Great Golden Digger Wasp searching for pest insects
Native Squash bees pollinating a zucchini
Luna Moth found at our pack barn loading dock.
Minute Pirate Bug (Orius) searching for pests like thrips on our strawberries
Praying mantis looking for pests in our strawberry field
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Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Our philosophy is that we care for our plants like we care for ourselves and our family, when we are healthy we might take supplements or see a naturopath to maintain our health, but when sick we see a doctor and get a corrective treatment. Our crops are treated the same way, using natural and biological systems to maintain good health and to keep pest populations low, but if (and only if) an infestation occurs we use the best and safest available resource to keep our crop healthy.

Beneficial insects getting released to naturally control pest insects.

Releasing predatory mites to control Two-spotted spider mites in our strawberries

Strawberries growing out of soil to reduce pest pressure and improve quality

Most strawberry diseases come from or are spread by contact with rain. We have taken IPM to a whole other level by modifying the climate surrounding our crop. Our tunnels are unique since they allow the side walls to ventilate. This lets us have extra heat in the spring and fall, and helps cool our crop during the middle of summer. 

We take extreme measures to ensure that we are farming sustainably

Strawberries growing under a plastic cover that protects them from rain

Strawberries growing underneath a plastic cover to reduce contact with rain.

No-Till Production​

Because of our location, we have very sandy soil that is can erode if not managed properly.  

Part of our management strategy involves seeding rye on every acre in the fall after our harvests finish. Rye begins to grow in the fall, and its root system holds the soil intact.

The following spring the rye resumes growing and suppresses weed species through competition.

When the rye is close to maturity we start planting pumpkins using a custom roller/crimper attachment followed with a planter. 

No-till planting pumpkins into a standing rye cover crop to improve farm sustainability

No-till planting helps us; reduce soil erosion, helps hold soil moisture, improves organic matter, produces a clean and blemish free pumpkin, and reduces weed pressure.

Fawn deer wondering when the pumpkins will be ready to eat
Pumpkins growing. Weeds are suppressed by rye straw residue.
Clean field of pumpkins thanks to the thick straw mat underneath

Wildlife Conservation

For us, farming doesn’t stop at managing the crop or soil, we are also passionate about managing the wildlife populations surrounding our fields. 

Each year we make and set up nest boxes for wood-ducks, bluebirds. kestrels, and tree swallows

Bird Banding

We monitor the nest boxes and pay closer attention to the boxes that were nested in by birds. When the young are close to fledging the nest we call upon someone who has a bird banding permit to affix an identifying band to the young birds. This band will help other conservationists like the Ontario Eastern bluebird society to monitor bird species to ensure that their populations are managed sustainably.

Banding a baby Eastern Bluebird. 3rd successful hatch from the nest box located in our market garden
Female Snapping turtle laying eggs beside our pumpkin field
Gray Tree frog found beside our pumpkin field
Banding an adult male Wood duck
Adult male Eastern Bluebird and a robin on our grape trellis
bluebird eggs in one of our nestboxes
Polyphemus moth that just emerged from its cocoon.
Tree swallow snatching some insects over our irrigation pond
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