Gwillimdale Farms Details Differentiating Growing Practices; Chris Hambly and Murray Jelly Share
BRADFORD, ONTARIO - Where does our food come from, and how is it produced? These are two questions consumers ask more often as they choose the products they open their wallets for. In the produce industry, suppliers like Gwillimdale Farms are pulling back the curtain on their growing practices to share with retailers how they produce products that shoppers can feel good adding to their baskets.
“Our growing practices benefit our buyers and consumers because they allow us to provide them with top-quality offerings,” explains Chris Hambly, Farm Manager and fifth-generation Gwillimdale Farms team member. “Using these practices over and over throughout the years allows us to have consistent produce for our customers that they know and love.”
Among these key practices are irrigation, maintaining soil health, and scouting, which happens once a week and involves walking the fields and visually identifying insect specimens or plant injuries from a specific insect.
Another vital aspect of Gwilimdale’s production process is crop rotation, which helps prevent disease by giving the ground a break from vegetable plantings year after year that deplete the organic matter and nutrients from the soil.
“Crop rotation puts nutrients back into the soil,” Murray Jelly, another Farm Manager who has been working for the company since he was 16, tells me. “Straw, corn stocks, and tillage radish are the main crops we grow throughout our rotation to help put organic matter back into the soil. Cover crops help to reduce compaction and improve soil structure. Adding the plant top, especially root matter, helps to improve water infiltration and holding ability; the long roots of radish also improve air movement through the soil. “
Tile drainage is also a crucial part of Gwillimdale’s growing practices. Through this process, the supplier can reduce the risk of crop loss in the event of excess moisture and help growers get on the field sooner after rainfall.
“This reduces surface runoff and increases water filtration into the soil because it is being filtered into a tile that runs underground into a ditch, etc. It keeps the water moving compared to having saturated soil and no room for water to escape,” adds Chris. “By balancing water, the mineral and oxygen levels in the soil creates a great environment for plants to grow deeper roots and deal with stressors like disease and drought that can come up during the season.”
Lastly, Murray says that by growing on highland soil, Gwillimdale stands out from marsh farmers with muck soil, as it creates sweeter carrots due to organic matter levels.
Help your shoppers learn and be proud of where their produce comes from by offering them items from Gwillimdale Farms in your fresh department.