This Week on the Farm: Our Assistant Farm Manager in the News!
Our beloved Assistant Farm Manager, Connor Desjardins, was featured in the Sault Star this week. Read what Connor has to say below, and you'll understand why we've launched our Kickstarter campaign to expand our member farmer program so that each neighborhood has a farm and a farmer. Help us incubate 100 city farmers producing 1 million pounds of produce by 2015.
Life on an urban farm
By: Michael Purvis
via the Sault Star
Just about every day, Connor Desjardins leaves his apartment in Toronto's Keele and Bloor area and takes a short bus ride to work.
Desjardins' destination isn't some drab cubicle, though, but a real working farm in the city.
"I just jump right on the express bus and I'm at the farm in about 25 minutes," said Desjardins, 23.
Desjardins, a Northern Ontario boy who grew up in Sault Ste. Marie's west end, is assistant farm manager for Fresh City Farm , an urban organic produce project that's trying to give regular Torontonians an outlet for their agricultural aspirations.
It's located at Downsview Park, just north of Highway 401, and Desjardins is charged with tending a half acre of land. Under the Fresh City system, member farmers each get 1,000 square feet to farm and space in the company greenhouse, in return for four hours labour each week.
The members sell their veggies at market, or put it into Fresh City's food box program along with the produce from the land Desjardins farms.
"We're enabling young entrepreneurs to dip their feet into farming for the first time," said Desjardins.
Desjardins said his situation isn't as unusual as one might think, with an increasing number of city-dwellers following their passion for food. He said many are driven by food security concerns and a desire to learn where their food comes from.
"I think that's going to be the people feeding us in the future, not necessarily the people who are from generations of farmers, but the people who are coming from the city and just have so much energy and passion to give to it," said Desjardins.
Desjardins' work now is an extension of a love of cultivation first kindled in childhood.
He said he remembers being fascinated by plants as a kid, and when the family moved to Avery Road when he was 16 he was intrigued by nearby Marshall Farms where he worked harvesting and planting.
"I was definitely pulled towards it," said Desjardins.
After graduating from Korah, he went to the University of Guelph's Ridgetown Campus, where he earned a two-year diploma in agriculture.
He said he followed his girlfriend to Toronto and started volunteering with Fresh City before soon signing on as an employee.
During the winter months, he works in the greenhouse tending Fresh City's crops of micro greens. Outside in the field are cold frames where he is growing kale and Swiss chard.
Desjardins said he'd love to return to the Sault to farm some day, but he said he's not sure the support is there for the kind of farming he's interested in. For now he's spending as much time on the farm as he can.
"Every day I'm up there, even if it's just to water," said Desjardins.