Eden in Season is run by farmer Ivan Chan, a permaculturist who started growing outside of Meaford, Ontario in 2015. With trees grown and gardens established, Ivan’s labour has paid off in spades, and he offers his fruit and veg through farmers markets and Eat Local Grey Bruce to community members across the county.
I know that there are a lot of different types of farming and the approach can result in a totally different product. What type of farming do you do and what journey brought you to it?
Farming was probably the furthest thing from my big city upbringing. Yet, it was my few experiences in nature that left me inspired by its power and beauty, yet feeling helpless at its fragility.
I was a water resources engineer turned ‘ecological engineer’ a.k.a. permaculturist. My farm specializes in growing edible perennial plants and everything in between, from property consults, workshops, supplying bare-root plants and mushroom logs, to harvests. My garden is a combination of an orchard, berry patch, and herb garden, which blurs the boundaries between farm and forest, between cultivated and wild.
How long have you been in Grey County and what made you decide to farm here?
I established Eden in Season in 2012 while developing my existing Collingwood yard and conducted property consults at my friends’ farms where I established my first plantings and mushroom logs. In 2014, I have planted my roots at the Garden of Eating just west of Meaford.
The Niagara Escarpment forms the backbone of our region, resulting in a varied topography not ideal for big ag. It is this diversity and beauty that attracts people like us to likewise express our unique selves, separate from the everyday cornfields, subdivisions, and conformities that may have defined our previous upbringing.
What are your personal favourite products that you offer?
I offered pet mushroom logs since year one, and they remain my most unique and popular item. They are ready-to-fruit logs pre-inoculated with shiitake or oyster culture.
Of the 100 species I now grow, I’ve hedged my bets on a few favourites, which were all planted 8 years ago. If you asked me a few years ago, it would have been Saskatoon berries, Asian pears, sea buckthorn, plums, or heartnuts. What I’m really excited for this year are my first pawpaws, which is a large mango-banana tasting custard fruit that originates in extreme Southern Ontario, but tastes like you’re on a tropical island.
How has your farm grown over the last 5 years and where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
5 years ago, we were crouched down endlessly at the Garden of “Weeding” without much to show for. Our recent “evolution” to more upright postures as our tree fruits grow in abundance has been very exciting (but otherwise still endlessly weeding).
I’d be happy just maintaining the current 2 acres to supply at a farmers’ market and Eat Local Grey Bruce scale. My partner and our friend have started their own beehives on our land. Likewise, with the amount of acreage available, there are opportunities for others to add complementary microenterprises such as livestock grazing or making value-added products.
How do you feel that the community in Grey County has supported your farm as it has developed? Where do you think the region could provide more support?
I have to thank the previous generation’s vision and generosity so I can sample locally-grown pawpaws, Persian walnuts, heartnuts, and quince long before my first trees bore fruit.
Witnessing our area building that critical mass the last few years shows that no matter how insignificant we think our impact is, our sum is bigger than its parts when we all work together. Illuminating everyday stories and human connections through this inaugural edition of Grey Makers is one more example we are doing just that.
Contact: 705-888=3376 or email@example.com
Location: 138335 Grey Rd 112, Meaford, ON