Meet Your Maker: Farmer Jonah
I was born in Toronto with no exposure to farming, similar to most kids who grow up in a large metropolis. As a child, I thought food came from the grocery store, not the soil. This soon changed when I experienced my first truly fresh tomato from my father’s garden.
The flavour, texture, colour and smell was beyond anything I had experienced from grocery store produce. This modest experience planted a seed in my mind that would change my life. When I was 14, I planted my first vegetable garden in my parent’s backyard. After trying my own fresh vegetables, I was hooked; I caught the farming bug. Every year after, my vegetable garden grew larger and larger until there was no more space left. By then, I was just finishing my undergraduate degree in business management and was looking to start a career. At this point I didn’t strongly consider farming as a viable career option, as my perception of farming was growing 200 acres of corn and machinery bigger than my house. But soon after graduating, I saw a unique opportunity to farm in Toronto with Fresh City, and jumped on board as a member farmer for the 2013 season.
When I met the Fresh City crew and other member farmers, I knew I was in the right place and felt a strong sense of community among the farmers. We would support each other by exchanging knowledge and guidance, co-ordinating supply purchases and watering schedules, and giving a helping hand to each other when needed. Being a member farmer allowed me to test my ability to run all aspects of a farming business including growing produce on a larger scale, marketing the produce, keeping track of a variety of statistics and creating relationships with suppliers and customers. While my undergraduate degree doesn't directly relate to farming, it has helped immensely in creating a viable business model for my new farm enterprise, Living Earth Farm, which I launched in the fall of 2013.
In the planning stages of Living Earth, I wanted to help solve a major food problem that Ontario faces 6 months of the year; that very few crops can be grown through the winter. My research led me to indoor food production. The more research I did, the more I was convinced that indoor farming would become a vital component of urban agriculture in the future. I decided to focus on living greens and herbs as local options are sparse and imported produce is often lacking flavour and freshness. Living produce allows my customers to enjoy their greens and herbs without worrying about spoilage and waste. They often last up to 3-4 weeks with the same freshness as the day they were harvested! Growing indoors with state of the art LED lighting technology has allowed me to grow a wide range of herbs and greens including basil, cilantro, lettuce and arugula with a smaller carbon footprint than imported produce during the winter.
As I continue to learn more about growing food locally, organically and sustainably, I will be incorporating this knowledge into my business. I hope to be part of the positive change in our food production system and inspire others to do the same, so the next generation will inherit a healthier planet with healthier people.
About Living Earth Farm
Living Earth Farm is an urban farm owned and operated by Jonah Krochmalnek that specializes in year-round sprout and microgreen production. Living Earth Farm focuses on producing food that is healthy, nutritious and sustainable for the environment. In addition to sprouts and microgreens, Living Earth Farm produces a wide selection of fruits and vegetables during the growing season including unique crops such as ground cherries, saskatoon berries and jerusalem artichokes. The farm uses organic growing practices and promotes biodiversity in the surrounding ecosystems. You can buy Living Earth Farm’s produce in the Fresh City store.