Our roots grow deeper than nature.....


Ekoroot Farm is located in Ottawa's Greenbelt near the Mer Bleue Conservation Area.  Our Vegetables and Seeds are certified Organic by Ecocert Canada.

In 2015 we were Certified Organic by Ecocert at the Just Food Farm.  In 2016 we moved to our own farm in the Greenbelt.  Since it was conventional land we were unable to certify because it needed to go through a transition period before qualifying for certification so we were forced to voluntarily cancel our Organic Certification.  We are currently in the process of transitioning to Organic in the next few years. 

--- Update 2020 - January 22, 2020!!  It took 3 long years and lots of work but we are happy to announce that since moving to the Greenbelt we finally obtained Organic Certification for our Veggies, Berries and Vegetable Seeds!  That is probably the only good news other than the fact that we are all healthy.

Starting out this venture at the Just Food farm in 2014 seemed easy - Just Food made it seem easy.  They had lots to offer:  1. An amazing list of 13 workshops for the start up farmers.  2.  Expertise and knowledge to help the start up farmers obtain Organic Certification.  2.  A huge greenhouse located on site for transplants.  3.  Support - they offered continuous support to their start up farmers even when leaving the program. and so much more that was not delivered.

In time I quickly learned that it was not as easy or as supportive as they made it seem.  You see, Just Food relied heavily on volunteers to help run their start up farm program.  Their knowledge was minimal and so were their volunteers.  Too much time was spent “figuring things out”.  By things I mean the irrigation system which was a constant fail, the greenhouse was never up and running, they scrambled to find people to teach workshops that they promised (I only received 7 out of the 13 I signed up for).  Plots were never ready in time so we could be at the market for June which was silly because Just Food only wanted farmers interested in market gardening. I could never understand why some farmers were able to start planting in May while others, like me, were waiting until June\July for their plots to be ready.  Fencing was an issue - it did not work and it made more work for us farmers!!  Trimming the grass around a quarter to half acre plot was a royal pain in the butt and the deer just walked under and through it while the turkeys just flew over top.  We were only suppose to get fencing in our first year of the program however it was still put up around my plot in my second year despite the fact that I did not want it.  In my 3rd year I was adamant that the fencing not be put up around my plot.  So guess what they did, they put it up around my plot anyways and left me no entrance, no border and no way to access my plot with a vehicle other than through the rough cultivated terrain which was not even suitable for a vehicle.  Not very supportive in my opinion.  I was suppose to grow organic potatoes in my 3rd year and with the fencing situation, that was no longer an option because there was no way I would be able to handle that much weight without a vehicle.  I had over $400.00 of garlic seed planted in that plot which was growing great and I was so excited for harvest time. I went to weed it twice that year.  It was a big surprise when I went to do my garlic harvest and I could not find it!  They mowed it!  That $400.00 of garlic seed I planted was suppose to provide us with some profit as well as some seed to plant the following year.  Of course they never reimbursed me and why didn't they ask me if I wanted it?  They did not have to ask because of course I would want it.  Who would bust their ass to plant it and throw it all away plus who doesn't love garlic, right.  Their system was UNFAIR - our private DETAILED growing records which included sales, varieties, suppliers, prices etc. were shared over and over again year after year with many staff some who ended up eventually becoming start up farmers.  Talk about invasion of privacy and conflict of interest!   Now I know why Joe Blow knew about varieties I was growing.... The records were only to be used for the Trillium Foundation (who gave JF way over 250 000.00 in grants).  Some first year start up farmers got to be first year farmers again in their second year.  One first year farmer was paid to run a farm at JF the year prior, then he quit and became a start up farmer the following year.    If he was qualified enough to be paid then why is he now a start up farmer with benefits (start up farmers pay less and received more than 2nd and 3rd year).  How does that even make sense?  Oh wait, I know why - because he knew the director many many years before.  Just had to google some names and everything made sense.  Obviously it is who you know not who ya.....ha!

It was also a piss off to learn that not all of us farmers paid the same amount to JF to farm there - didn't they know we would talk to each other.  Sheesh.  The worst is we have not had one little bit of support.  Not even a how you doing phone call or email, not one little blurb of support on social media, nothing - zip, zero, zilch.  We honestly feel like a piece of chopped liver (the one I used to hide in cup of milk as a child so I didn't have to eat it, yuck liver ptsd!) and the $2800.00 we paid to a non profit was a waste of time and money.  We got screwed.

We were forced to withdraw from Organic certification which put our name on the world wide web as withdrawing from Ecocert - boy we had a lot of explaining to do to our customers!! This proved that the knowledge Just Food was offering was no knowledge at all - they were learning as well and I really wish they would have been honest about that.  It would have made a difference.

It took us a lot to get where we are and we are still hitting big bumps in the road.  In 2016 we were very excited to move to this NCC property located in Ottawas Greenbelt.  We thought it was our break in life and had big plans for our CSA - a wash station, a market stand, hand washing stations, transplants, pasture raised poultry and more.  After we were approved for our CSA and poultry we signed the lease with the NCC.  We moved in March 2016.  This is when we learned something we never would have expected - we did not have enough water!!!  I know right! Water is really important for a CSA and market garden operation.  Transplants, newly seeded beds and greens especially need daily, consistent water.  If not, they die or do not grow at all.  Vegetables will grow without water but they do not grow as well - yields are lower and quality goes down.  We lost hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of feet of transplants and seeded beds in our first year.  Who knew we had to check if there would be water where we are moving - we live in Canada for petes sake!!  Lesson learned, always check if the location you are moving to has water!!  Why is there no water, I have no flipping clue!!!  The ground is empty.  Is it the high saline, does it all go down the ridge in the nice tile drainage right into Borthwick creek?  I have no educational opinion on this and have yet to hear one from the NCC.  Our house well is filled up a few times a year.  We have access to another well for irrigation however it can only provide us with around 1000 liters of water a few times a week.  We cannot use our house well - we need that for our family.  The irrigation well is in a vein which is emptied as we irrigate.  We have to wait a few days for it to fill back up with a big old whopping 1000 liters but during a drought, it goes completely dry.  The worst is we have had a drought every stinking year we have been here since 2016.  Last year, 2019, we made the decision to save ourselves the embarrassment of crappy crops and cancelled our CSA.  Unfortunately we will be cancelling again for 2020 and it is sad.  The poultry - we all know that animals need water.  There is a horse farm down the road, he must have water.

Despite the crappy water situation we are working on other endeavors - bee keeping and seed saving.  We will have some veggies at the farm stand for 2020 but because of the lack of water, a lot of crops will not be available.  We are very sad that our market and CSA did no flourish here in the Greenbelt.  NCC promised us water - we are still waiting.  All I have to say as I sit here and type this is: THIS SUCKS HAIRY HAMSTERS!!!

Thanks for reading my update\rant today.  I am not good at grammar so please do not judge my quick non-edited write up.  It is a pet peeve of mine when grammarly correct people think everyone should be good at grammar.  If everyone was good at the same thing the world would be a super boring place so deal with it - obla de obla da. ;-) January 22, 2019.  Melanie


  


Our Growing Methods

Why we choose Organic

Do we only eat Organic foods in our home?  No.  We never let the word Organic deter us from eating healthy.  We purchase products that suit our budget, even if that means consuming non-organic food.  When it comes to growing methods, Organic is our choice.

Ekoroot Farm chooses to support the Canadian Organic Standard.  We hope to transition our land to be certified Organic in the next few years.  We choose certification because certified Organic farms are inspected and monitored by a “Certification Body” and this guarantees the farm is following the standards.  A Certified Inspector visits the farm at certain times during the year.  The farm also has to provide detailed records such as; the products used, seed orders, cleaning methods, amendments, pest management practices, cover crops, yields, plantings, sales, receipts and more!.  The standard does not allow the use of GMO’s, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, herbicides, fungicides, sewage sludge, chemicals and livestock must only be fed Organic feed.  Certification also protects the consumer because they know the farmer is following the standards.

Does it mean that all Organic food is free from chemicals or gmo’s?  No, not necessarily however to us, it comes down to the method, not the trait.

We choose the Organic method because we want to keep chemicals out of animal habitats, streams, water tables, rivers, lakes etc.  Growing organically works in balance with nature. It increases organic matter in the soil which contributes to better resilience from stresses such as pests, disease, drought and flooding.  It also encourages beneficial insects and/or species.

Will it save the world, probably not but a little bit helps, right?

Organic Seeds

We only use Certified Organic Seed and at times, if we are unable to source Organic, we purchase un-treated seed.  In order for us to be sure the seed is un-treated; we ask that our supplier(s) provide us with a written statement indicating that the seed is indeed untreated and non-gmo.

Purchasing Organic seed is important to us because it supports the investment in Organic Plant breeding.  Organic plant breeding maintains genetic diversity as well as agriculture biodiversity which contribute to the success of Organic farmers, like us.  The quality of food relies on seed genetics and affects many things such as; crop diversity, the crops defense against pests & disease, yields, appearance, quality and flavor.  The quality of seed plays a major impact on food security.

Open pollinate, Heritage, Untreated, GMO or GE, Certified Organic.

If you buy a package of seeds that is not certified organic or labelled UT (Untreated), it is very possible that it was grown using GMO’s, or seed treatments.  It may be covered in chemicals to preserve or help it grow better.  These methods are never listed on the seed packet.  One purpose of treatments is to protect the seed from soil borne illness which in return, improves plant growth.  Other treatments can often consist of; fungicides, chlorine, trisodium phosphate (a cleaning agent) or insecticides.  Neonictinoid has been used to treat seeds but is very dangerous to bees and other wildlife.

Untreated means the seed was not treated or genetically modified or altered during the plants growth.    These seeds can also be cheaper but remember to clarify with the seed company that the seed is untreated.

Heritage & Open pollinated does not always mean it is untreated or non GMO unless otherwise stated by the company.  Heritage means that it is a variety that goes back 100’s of years and open pollinated means its is a seed saved from its “true type”.  Heritage seeds are open pollinated.  If you cross open pollinated varieties, you get hybrids.  If you save seed from open pollinated varieties, with isolation distances to avoid crossing, you get a true type.    There is no rule on how heritage or open pollinated seeds are grown however it is possible to find them Certified Organic and/or untreated.  Open pollinated and untreated are recommended for seed saving.  These seeds are usually much cheaper than hybrids.

Hybrid seed is when open pollinated varieties are crossed.  Some might argue that hybrid is the same as GMO.  It is not.  There are hybrid seeds that are certified organic. GMO’s are not permitted in organic production so it would be impossible to contain GMO’s unless some kind of cross contamination or cross pollination occurred during the plants growth and if this happened, it can be rejected from being certified.   You can save seeds from hybrids but you will not get the true type.  We have a few favorite Hybrids for our market garden because they are more disease resistant and have been bred to improve quality such as size & flavor.  They also tend to have better yields.  Time and effort is required to restore and maintain the desired traits in hybrids which makes them much more expensive to purchase.

In the end, the choice is always up to the grower.

GMO’s

Some might consider broccoli to be a GMO because it is derived from the wild mustard, Brassica oleracea.  Kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts are all subspecies of the wild mustard.  Most of the vegetables & fruits nowadays derive from wild species that weren’t so palatable 100’s of years ago and would not be existent today without human intervention.  Rather than considering it a GMO, it would be considered “traditional plant breeding”.  Plant breeding has been around since the 1900’s.

The difference…..

Planting breeding is a method used to improve crops by using artificial selection – selecting seeds from the plants with the most desirable traits such as; longer shelf life, flavor, size, disease resistant, insect resistant etc.

GMO - also known as Genetically Modified Organisms or GE’s (Genetically Engineered.) GMO foods are developed using a more scientific or lab approach by adding or enhancing useful traits or removing undesirable traits.  The traits are added in a precise manner without losing any of the beneficial characteristics of the crop.  They are created by altering genes or transferring genes from one organism to another and at times from one species’ to another.  The crops are considered to be bi-engineered to increase resistance to pests, disease, pesticides and herbicides.  By making the crops resistant to herbicides, such as round up, it allows farmers to spray the crops while they are growing.  Another example a GMO crop is in some varieties of gmo corn which has been modified to include BT(Bacillus thuringiensis) in the corn seed which makes it toxic to a common corn pest, the corn borer.  BT is an insecticide and is approved for use in Organic crop production however, the over use of BT in modified crops has increased the resistant to the corn borer and other pests.  Ontario encourages (but doesn’t require) farmers to plant 40% non BT crop in effort to slow down this resistance. 

The purpose of GMO’s is to improve agricultural productivity however it can, in some circumstances, have a negative impact on the environment’s ecosystem. 

GMO’s can at times reduce the use of pesticides & herbicides but in some cases it increases the use.  Genes from GM crops can be transferred to weeds making it difficult for farmers to control thus resulting in more herbicide applications.  The over use of pesticides creates resistant species as well as new species causing the farmer the need to add more applications or the farmer could be wasting their money because the pesticide is no longer as effective.  Rag weed is an example of a weed which is resistant to the herbicide, glyphosate. 

GMO crops are safe.  Studies have shown that GMO proteins are destroyed during processing and are safe for animal and/or human consumption.  Most products that contain soy, glucose, corn syrup etc. are usually from GMO crops.  Some common GMO crops in Ontario are; corn, soy beans, canola, cotton.   


http://www.ecowatch.com/protecting-organic-seeds-from-gmo-contamination-1881929042.htm
http://fafdl.org/gmobb/gmos-an-introduction/
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/gmf-agm/fs-if/index-eng.php
http://thinkcanadaorganic.ca/organic101/
https://gmoinquiry.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/where-in-the-world-gm-crops-foods.pdf