“Everything starts at the soil,” Nathan, head farmer and co-owner of Winterhill Farm and Garden, says to me while we walk through the vegetable field towards where chickens live. If you haven’t thought about it yet, you should. Soil unlike dirt, is a living organism; they are a major reservoir of Earth.
Like all living things, we have a purpose to sustain, and soil sustains life – all life, not just us, but the billions of micro-organisms like bacteria and fungi that live in the soil. So, when the soil is alive and well, it gives back in the way of minerals and nutrients, which the plants absorb. And guess what? We, living creatures absorb when we consume them. Sometimes we even get a little help from animals like cattle who can digest grass and breakdown its nutrients in a form that can be absorbable by us. Isn’t it amazing, how soil can cause a chain effect that keeps entire populations alive?!
That is only if we don’t disrupt it.
Too bad, we have. If the soil in conventional farming is so degraded that the soil is dead, then what are we eating? If the cattle in feed lots are eating grain, how can we get the nutrients we need from them if they are not grazing the land as they were meant to? It’s almost like we are eating impostors instead of the real thing.
Except from farms like Winterhill Farm and Garden, who grow food and raise animals how nature intended. Follow me as I go to this 100-acre farm in Guelph-Eramosa and learn about the regenerative farming practices being implemented to honour the soil and everything that grows on its pastures.
I first met Tyler at the Evergreen Brickworks Saturday Farmers' Market in Toronto. It felt like the first “real” farmers’ market since Covid. Masks were no longer mandatory and you could feel the vivacious atmosphere of the market. Tyler’s booth stood out to me right away. It was right in front of the entrance with its orderly but diverse set up of produce, baked goods, and herbal concoctions – not to mention it’s also very hard to miss Tyler, with his bright and enthusiastic spirit.
Since I had never seen Foragers Farms at the market before, I immediately started asking questions. I quickly found out that Foragers Farms focused on regenerative agriculture practices, pasture-raised its chickens and collaborated with other farmers and producers. After learning a little bit about the farm, I knew I had to go out and visit it. So I emailed Tyler and his partner Erin and asked if they would welcome me for a tour around their farm. I got an invitation to join them a few weeks later as they conducted a farm tour for their CSA members followed by a pizza lunch at their neighbors’ Tony & Linda’s Headwaters Farm. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, plus how could I refuse a tour and pizza?