An organic produce farm near Vankleek Hill has been recognized for its sustainable practices.
Eco East, which promotes sustainability, has awarded Good Food Garden for placing an emphasis on sustainability in growing vegetables.
Good Food Garden owner Peggy McDonald grows bushels and bushels of vegetables on just two acres on a property of approximately 25 acres, located on Pleasant Corners Road.
“The idea is to grow as much food as possible in the smallest space possible,” McDonald explains
To grow more in a small space, McDonald uses sustainable practices such as no-till farming in large beds with narrower walkways between rows.
McDonald uses objects called cow pots to start her plants. They are small pellets of cow manure and are like the peat pots growers commonly use. However, McDonald said those peat pots are not sustainable because peat moss does not regenerate. The use of plastic is also minimized at Good Food Garden. McDonald does not like the idea of giving customers additional plastic waste.
“I work really hard at making sure plastic doesn’t leave my farm,” she remarks.
McDonald does not have any formal education in agriculture. Her expertise is in the aviation industry. For her, learning to grow vegetables the sustainable way is just common sense.
“It’s just learning best practices from other market gardeners,” McDonald says.
No herbicides or pesticides get used at Good Food Garden and the farm is in the process of receiving its official organic certification. McDonald only sells food through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), where customers subscribe to baskets of food which provide a selection of fresh vegetables to feed a household, and through sales at the farm retail shop, which is open each Saturday.
The owner of Good Food Garden encourages people to come and shop and see for themselves.
“You can come and meet me, you can come and see how the food is grown,” McDonald enthuses.
Good Food Garden has one other employee this summer because of funding McDonald was able to secure through the federal Canada Summer Jobs program. Kinnon Lajoie is home for the summer from Dalhousie University in Halifax where she studies Political Science and Sustainability.
McDonald also grows herbs on the property and supplies vegetables for the Vankleek Hill Food Bank and Riverest Restaurant in L’Orignal. An admitted fan of caterpillars, McDonald is content to let them munch away on some of the herb plants.
Good Food Garden is about more than just supplying the vegetables to consumers after they are grown. McDonald also sells organic, sustainably developed seeds from three manufacturers, Tournesol from Valleyfield Québec, Matchbox from Caledonia in Southern Ontario, and High Mowing seeds from Wolcott, Vermont.
McDonald emphasized that a lot of the support for Good Food Garden comes from her parents Bev and Gus McDonald who also live on the farm.
Good Food Garden is located at 1793 Pleasant Corners Road, west of Highway 34. The farm store is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays but McDonald said it is best to show up early before the supply of vegetables runs out. Visits are also available by appointment by calling 613-676-1710 or by email at [email protected] .