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Curious about sustainable agriculture?

Learn about how agricultural practices can be sustainable from one of Evergreen's Farmers Market vendors - Joyfully Organic Farm. 

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Published on April 11, 2022

According to the United Nations, the world’s population is expected to grow from 7.9 billion as of April 2022 to 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100. With population growth rising at unprecedented rates, globally we are faced with the challenge of maintaining food security without severely impacting the environment.

Agriculture can place significant pressures on the natural environment through human activities such as the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, the overconsumption of water, and the use of gasoline powered machinery resulting in the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In recent years, efforts have been made around the world to transition to more sustainable agricultural practices. 

The goal of sustainable agriculture is to meet the food needs of present populations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This month, we chatted with Liz and Matt from Joyfully Organic Farm, one of Evergreen’s Farmers Market vendors, about their farm and how their agricultural practices are sustainable in nature.  

How did you get started in farming?

Liz - Joyfully Organic Farm

Liz and Matt, the hands and hearts that started Joyfully Organic Farm, began with nothing but an earnest passion for nature, hard work, building community, and creating change. They were drawn to farming as it encompassed everything that they were passionate about and it was a real way for them to work at making a difference in their community. More than ten years ago, they sought out to get their first farming jobs and they haven’t been able to shake ‘the farming bug’ since.

In the early years, they studied respected farms, worked under mentors, and researched the best and most successful methods for organic vegetable production. Today, Joyfully Organic Farm, located in Markham, Ontario, has become the best demonstration of everything that Liz and Matt believe in. While their average day is filled with planting tomatoes, weeding arugula, and harvesting squash, they believe that each day plays an important part in their vision - a vision of creating an agriculture model that is focused on community and building direct relationships with the people that they feed. 

Can you tell us about your agricultural practices?  

Joyfully Organic Farm Planting

Joyfully Organic Farm’s agricultural practices stand upon two pillars: soil stewardship and organic farming practices.  

Soil Stewardship  

Liz and Matt believe that soil stewardship is the foundation of everything, from the viability of the farm to the vitality of their food. They believe that taste, nutrition, and farm resiliency all highly depend on soil. Their overall goal is to be excellent stewards of their land and they have seen the results of diligent soil stewardship in the flavours and vibrance of their food.   

Organic Farming Practices  

Joyfully Organic Farm is proudly Certified Local Organic by Pro-Cert Canada. Organic farming is a type of agriculture that uses ecologically based pest controls and biological fertilizers derived primarily from plant and animal wastes.  

Liz and Matt want their customers to know that eating at their farm comes with a guarantee that the food is grown with practices that protect both their health and the health of the environment.  

Why is sustainable agriculture so important?

A shift in agricultural practices has the profound potential to address some of our biggest environmental concerns across the globe.
 Liz and Matt from Joyfully Organic Farm

Sustainable agriculture is a means of producing food that contributes to, rather than detracts from, ecosystem health. Their farming techniques are sustainable in nature as they rebuild soil organic matter, sequester carbon, and optimize climate remediation. This is done through the building up of topsoil, the use of cover crops so that the soil never sits bare, reduced tillage, and rotational crop plans.

 

Liz and Matt explain that sustainable agriculture is particularly exciting as we all have a role to play in it, not just farmers. We all consume food and the type of food that we choose to purchase directly correlates to the type of agriculture that we support. They also believe that if we all do our part, we could create lasting change within our agricultural systems.

What is the impact of purchasing our food/eating locally?

Joyfully Organic Farm believes that the act of eating locally plays a huge part in agricultural systems becoming more sustainable as it strengthens communities, supports local industries, decreases food miles, and reintroduces authentic relationships between growers and eaters. Authentic and direct relationships specifically allow for informed decisions to be made about food that ultimately benefit the local community that both growers and eaters are embedded in.

We at Joyfully Organic Farm have chosen a model of farming that is focused on direct connection with our local community. The enthusiastic response we have gotten back from our community fuels each new season and inspires us to broaden our impact.
 Liz and Matt from Joyfully Organic Farm

What is the Farm Share Box and how does it work?

 

The Farm Share box is Joyfully Organic Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model that provides a direct way to eat from their farm. Their Farm Share members receive a weekly box of fresh vegetables from their farm, plus all the perks of being a Farm Member. Members receive recipes that match what they got in the box that week, cooking instructions, invitations to their farm events and tours, access to their u-pick cut flower garden and special Farm Member sales. Above all else, Liz and Matt want their Farm Members have a personal connection to their farmers.

It is wonderfully good time, and we have come to think of our Farm Members as our large extended family! The vibrant community that surrounds this farm is very special, and we love welcoming new people into it!
 Liz and Matt from Joyfully Organic Farm

What’s your advice to those interested in becoming involved in the sustainable agriculture movement?

If you are interested in getting more involved in the sustainable agriculture movement or want to see it grow, Liz and Matt encourage you to look up sustainable farms in your area to find out how you can eat directly from those farms. This could be through their weekly CSA or by visiting that farm at the local farmers market that they attend. You can find Joyfully Organic Farm at the Saturday Farmers Market at Evergreen Brick Works from May when it moves outdoors for the season. Liz and Matt remark that they, like many other farmers, love meeting new customers and welcoming them to join them in this agricultural movement that is community focused and wonderfully delicious.