Last Friday Many Feathers took a trip to Mount Forest to visit Big John’s Country Market. We met Donny, who showed us around the farm and answered all our questions about farming and shopping local. We discovered how the produce that Donny brings to the Many Feathers Market each week is grown, and learned about the Farm Feast that Big John’s Country Market is having on Sunday September 11th!
Located on Highway 6, just south of Mount Forest, Ontario Big John’s is a family owned farm & market. They specialize in various Ontario produce, baked goods, and quality beef, lamb, pork and chicken.
The farm has been in operation for over 18 years, but officially became Big John’s Country Market in 2009 to support the family, and their son, Big John. Our tour showed us just a fraction of the farm, including rentals Big John’s grows on about 600 acres of land!
Our tour, led by Donny, included learning about growing many staple Ontario crops growing in season such as: squash, rye, asparagus, potatoes, peppers, corn, and garlic. We found out the types of farming methods used on the farm, many passed down from generations, others discovered through trial and error by Donny himself.
Each step of the tour showed us the passion that Donny has for farming, and the new techniques he applies year after year to be continuously improving.
For example, we learned in an effort to not use pesticides, Donny plants rye and asparagus in the same area, the fast growing asparagus does well because the surrounding rye overwhelms weeds around it, and is easy to cut down with a tractor to keep it manageable. It’s these symbiotic relationships that allow many plants to thrive without the use of excessive pesticides.
We had many questions about growing naturally, and Donny answered them all, referring to specific crops, and ways to negate weeds and pests. We also learned that aside from selling produce and meats at markets Donny also values the opportunity for education and to develop relationships with his customers. It’s no surprise that people come to the Many Feather’s Market and ask if Donny is there that day, because along with a quality product, customers know they’re supporting a passionate local farmer.
Buying local isn’t only for getting a better and fresher product, it also gives you the chance to know exactly how and where your food was grown. It gives you a connection to the farmer, and to the practices used by them. By being able to ask questions and learn about your food, you eat more seasonally, and in the end have a positive impact on the local economy, and a better understanding of what you’re feeding your family.
While walking past the corn field Donny told us, “I don’t have to get rich, as long as I survive I’m happy.”
Join the Feast on the Farm at Big John’s this Sunday September 11th, from 2:00 - 7:00 PM. Tickets are $35/plate, $10 for kids, and kids under 10 are free. The feast includes a farm raised meal, and free hayrides! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for event tickets!
Big John’s Country Market is open to self serve located on #9537 Hwy 6 Just South of Mount Forest (Before Maas Park Dr). Make a day trip of it, or find Big John’s Country Market at the Many Feather’s Market every Sunday until October 9th from 9:00 - 2:00 PM, at LIsgar Go Station.