We are Karin Freeman and Emily Colley-Divjak (a.k.a Leaf House Organics!)- two new farmers on a mission to start our very own organic "micro" farm within the city of Ottawa.
We met while working at a family-run health food store in Guelph, Ontario and through a matching of fates ended up in Fleming College’s Sustainable Agriculture program in Lindsay, Ontario at the very same time. Both being lovers and growers of food, advocates for the environment and promoters of wellness, we decided to combine forces after graduating to become working farmers.
In a leap of faith, we applied to work a 1/4 acre with the Just Food's Start-Up Farm Program, located on the National Capital Commission property in the Ottawa Greenbelt. This land falls on traditional territory of the St Lawrence Iroquois, Anishinabewaki, Huron-Wendat and the Omàmiwininiwak (Algonquin) nations. We are very grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow on this land. To find out more about the traditional territory you are on, please click here .
The program's goal is to:
"Support new farmers in the Ottawa region. By offering access to land, shared infrastructure/equipment, and workshops, the program aims to enable more people in this region to start their own successful farm business. Program participants can access up to 3 years of on-site support at the Just Food Farm, at a subsidized rate building towards a cost-recovery basis (Just Food, 2013 )."
With the preparation of a business plan, financial projections, mission and vision of what our farm could be- we were accepted into the program! This is big for us and is a tremendous privilege to be welcomed into the Just Food family.
Because we have invested our savings into being students and purchasing our initial seed order, we have come to realize that our start-up cost (though minimal for new farmers) is a barrier for us both.
We are asking you (our community) for a bit of help on the cost of the program: $2500, as you are able, in hopes that we will be able to give back in a big way through our future in farming. This fee would act as our rent for land at the Just Food Farm for one growing season, starting May 2019 and would give us access to:
- Communal infrastructure including barn storage, a wash station, cold storage, and greenhouse space
- Communal equipment including a walk-behind tractor
- Participation in a series of training workshops designed for new farmers
- One-on-one mentoring meetings with Just Food Staff
- Exchange of knowledge and collaboration with other farmers
- Just Food’s resource library
- General liability coverage under Just Food’s insurance plan
- Organic certification by Ecocert & certification training
- A water source & electric fencing
The Just Food Farm would give us a low-risk opportunity to start our business, as we continue to learn how to give back to our community and Earth through agriculture while making a living wage.
Please do not feel any pressure; give as you are able.
We appreciate all of your love and support, dollars or not.
Love Karin & Emily <3
PS. If you would like to hear more about the farming philosophies we will be practicing and/or what we will be growing and offering, please keep on reading below:
L E A F H O U S E O R G A N I C S
WHO WE ARE: Leaf House Organics is a small but mighty team dedicated to growing good, whole foods while cultivating wellness of the land we sow and within our local community. We strive to grow alongside our plantings; routinely expanding our knowledge, honouring traditional practices and fostering innovation.
OUR VISION: We are committed to the distribution of high-quality organic food to the greater Ottawa community. We are aiming to produce nutrient-dense food on our 1/4 acre by using techniques that reflect our commitment to protecting the health of the land. Our goals for sustainability:
To set aside enough of our net income to cover our basic living expenses.
- Community Partnership- Donation of any “extras” to:
- The Ottawa Food Bank ‘Community Harvest’ Program
- Food Not Bombs, Ottawa
- Lotus Community Corner/Cafe to help support any fundraisers or community meals
- Offer a flexible rate, offer discounted rates at the end of the day
- Offer 10% off all grocery items and salads to seniors (60+) and students
- Conserve water, add nutrients to the soil, farm using low impact methods, little-to-no plastic mulch or trays
- Build a gravity-fed watering system (less resources to water our crops) and include a rainwater catch
- Select regionally-appropriate produce, maintaining an Organic Certification through Ecocert
- Plant cover crop of clover in pathways to prevent erosion and maintain soil moisture*
- 100% biodegradable packaging
- Encourage customers to bring their own containers for a 10% discount on to-go salads
- Bike trailers for deliveries as much as possible (at least 30% of deliveries)
- Any additional food not used for sale, salad or community will be composted at the
Just Food site, allowing nutrients to be returned to the soil and closing the loop
- Set aside enough to cover costs for future growth
*Please note that the program does not allow us to use the same plot of land every year, therefore we cannot implement annual crop rotating or full cover-crops
WHAT WE OFFER:
- Prepared to-go salads & dressings (*options to bring your own container)
- Family-sized prepared salad-kits with dressing (take home, assemble, enjoy)
- BULK Baby salad greens mixes
- BULK Edible flower mixes
- A variety of mini lettuce heads
- Mini cucumber & zucchini
- An assortment of radishes
- Carrots & beets
- Cabbages & radicchio
- A variety of fresh herbs
OUR MISSION: Leaf House Organics will offer creative ways for folks to enjoy local food on-the-go by selling prepared salads, home-made dressings and bulk produce. We will use a mix of compostable and reusable packaging to lessen our waste impact. Through our small batch mixes and prepared salads, we aim to bring people back to simple eating and hope to lead a successful business with respect for the health of our community at the forefront of our actions.
WHERE TO FIND US: We are in the process of applying to a handful of farmers markets as well as connecting with retailers and restaurants in the Ottawa area.
- Gay Grannary
- The Stone Store
- Uncle Rob, John, & Jeff Colley
Fundraising team: Leaf House Organics (3)
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