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The Cultivator

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Kinloss Produce
Kinloss Produce

Elmer and family chose this lifestyle about 20 years ago, and were founding members of the Produce Auction a few kilometers away near Lake Huron. He and others in the area banded together after years of shipping what they produced elsewhere.

“Bruce County got after us and wondered why we couldn’t do an auction right here,” says Elmer. “And we thought, good question. So they helped us set it up and the Auction is now a mainstay for farmers and buyers – it’s one of the few fresh produce auctions in Ontario and people come from everywhere.”

Elmer and his wife also run their own business called Kinloss Produce. Fruits and vegetables are the core products while his daughter does flowers and arrangements. It’s a true family enterprise.

People seek you out...
People seek you out...

“We’re not exactly on the beaten path – you have to look for us to find us,” laughs Elmer. “But when you have a good product, people seek you out.”

Kinloss Produce is about great food. Tomatoes and strawberries in season taste exactly the way they should. Elmer and family restrict pesticides and use ‘beneficials’ (like insects that naturally protect plants) to support the growing process.

“As a grandmother from Pennsylvania once told me, the closer you get your nose to the earth, the better it pays – what that means is physically do your work. We follow that advice here and I think the results of our work taste better. You can buy beans that are machine picked at a big store, but people can tell the difference between those and beans that are picked by hand.”

Connecting people.
Connecting people.

Elmer’s physical work ethic doesn’t preclude a lot of good thinking on the subject of what we grow and what we eat. Quite the opposite; “I think we in North America are increasingly afraid of our own inventions, and now we’re looking for more information about what we eat and how it’s grown – that’s the outcome of consumer unease. At Kinloss Produce and everywhere around this community, families grow food for families. You pay a little more than you’d pay for ‘cheap food’, but it’s worth it.”

Elmer believes the future of growing food in Huron-Kinloss includes connecting more people outside the area to what families grow here. “Necessity drives diversity – and that leads to sustainability. That’s what we’re trying to do here. We need to create demand for family food that is grown by families. That’s the value-add. I’m interested in the welfare of everyone here, not just the Brubachers. If we can get more people involved, we can create demand and new opportunities for the community.”

And off he walks, smiling that big smile, laughing as he turns away to help a customer pick just the right tomato.