On any given day in the summer, you will find Titia Posthuma in her 1 acre market garden, barefoot, working the soil, pulling weeds, watering the huge variety of organic crops she grows, or picking heritage vegetables chosen for flavour.
Ravensfield is a re-generated farm, trusting in nature and the integration of select animals to help enrich the soil. When Titia first arrived on the land in 1981, the farm was only starting to recover from a state of near desertification.
Setting to work immediately, she began a program of remediation that continues to this day.
The farm is organic, so weeds are pulled by hand and used as mulch to inhibit further weed growth and allow decay into fertile soil. Cultivation is done with hand tools to support microorganisms. Manure from her pigs and chickens helps improve the soil condition and replace essential minerals. Everything is aimed at making the soil as healthy and enriched as possible, from encouraging reforestation (the basis for good soil is "tree manure" like leaves and chips) to understanding how plants and animals interact with the land.
But it's standing in the sea of green that is Titia's market garden which brings home the reality of decades of soil remediation. Her mint plants (cut back for now to regenerate) flood the senses with their clean, aromatic green scent. The exploding rows of dark green kale shimmer in the heat. Beautiful orange zucchini blossoms give way to shiny fruit. And all around the forest towers above the land, a familiar mix of deciduous and coniferous trees common to the Canadian shield.
"It's how you work with the soil, increasing the nutritive quality of the food that is being grown," says Titia.
Dean Edwards, Foodsmiths Produce Manager and Titia stand in the shade, discussing the next order to be delivered to Foodsmiths. This is the business end of it, when Titia discusses what is growing well, and what is succumbing to the summer heat and drought. Every year is different, but every year brings improvement in the viability and health of the soil.
Ravensfield Organic Farm is certified organic and biodynamic by Demeter. You can find Titia's fresh vegetables and greens in our produce department.