Unique Farming Model Finds Success

Ginny Love, who owns Roy'l Acres with husband, Roy Love.

Ginny Love, who owns Roy’l Acres with husband, Roy Love.

In Grey County alone, there are over 220 farms. While the county is ranked amongst the top producers for sheep, lambs and cattle in Ontario, our local agri-food industry is also very active. Many of these farms will take their produce to sell at market, while others join associations such as the Chefs’ Forum. Still others use a different strategy.

‘Most farmers will grow food, then hope to sell it at market,’ says Roy Love, owner of Roy’L Acres Farm. ‘Whereas here, it’s all sold before it’s planted.’

Roy’L Acres has developed a unique relationships between their neighbours and local restaurants. Chefs customize a garden suited to their menus. The plot is grown for that specific restaurant, using only organic practices.

This is the third year Roy’l Acres has been in operation. The first year they grew for five restaurants, and this year Love says, ‘I supply approximately 25 restaurants in the Georgian Triangle and Creemore.’

It all began when Love’s son-in-law, who was at the time a chef in Montreal, told them that his restaurant bought produce direct from farms. Love says he and his wife Ginny, had always grown a garden to supply friends and family. After some research, he began looking for contracts with local restaurants.

‘To go to farmers markets and sell 20 pounds of tomatoes is difficult, but it’s not a problem for area restaurants to buy that amount.’    ‘One thing led to another,’ says Love. ‘And, now I’m almost overwhelmed.’

Challenged with an expanding demand, he approached his neighbours in an effort to increase his supply. ‘It took me quite a long time to get trusted in the Mennonite community,’ he says. ‘They talked it over, then they all got on board.’

There are 110 square feet of garden on his property, as well as plots on five neighbouring farms. All the restaurants have individual plots in the fields.

Love meets with local chefs to go over a yearly menu  and they choose all the seeds the want. He keeps the chefs updated with the crop’s progress by sending pictures and when ready, ‘that day, they’re picked and delivered, fresh.’

‘We specialize in micro greens and edible flowers,’ says Love. They grow a variety of produce that is natural, GMO free, pesticide free and without the use of chemicals. ‘The number one problem will be weather,’ he says. ‘This year we had a tomato blight and a pepper blight.’

Plots at Roy’l Acres.

‘To go to farmers markets and sell 20 pounds of tomatoes is difficult, but it’s not a problem for area restaurants to buy that amount,’ he says. ‘Most chefs are pretty open to buying local food.’

Roy’l Acres also offers tours of their farm, most often to guests of a neighbouring Bed and Breakfast. Love says he especially enjoys meeting the people visiting from the city.

‘Most people don’t know where their food comes from,’ he says. ‘When they get to pull a carrot from the ground, they’re just like, ‘Oh, that’s how it’s done!”

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There are many strategies modern farmers use to get produce from their fields to our plates. Roy’l Acres’ use of neighbouring farms and prearranged sale of crop has shown to be very successful. Next season will their fourth year of operation, and the future looks promising.

‘We’re sold out every year,’ says Love.

For more information on Roy’l Acres, email info@royalacresfarm or visit www.roylacresfarm.ca

One Response

11.28.14

very good article. Thanks Roy

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