So… a few pictures of some seedlings and a guy with a beard. How did we get to here?
Well that guy is me, the prairie boy. I was living in Winnipeg and working in the restaurant business as I have done since I was a kid. As my love for food has developed, I began thinking more about where it was coming from and how it was produced. I wont go into a rant about the madness of modern farming and food distribution, but its clear that we need an alternative to pulpy, bland, chemically treated tomatoes from 2500 km away. Its seems really wrong to eat food that is better traveled than the person eating it. As soon as I started reading about alternative food systems I was amazed and inspired to find such a huge group of people who were out there doing the very thing I had dreamed of.
For various reasons, the prairies are now far behind me and I find myself in the upstairs spare room of our Toronto home surrounded by 1200 tiny little plants that are teeming with life. This first wave of plants (heirloom tomatoes, peppers and eggplants) will be going into the ground in mid-may.
In our case this means a small plot on St. David’s bench in the heart of the Niagara. How does a prairie boy who is new to the big city get a great little spot in the Niagara you ask? Well its simple actually… Just jump into a car with a beautiful girl, a dog, and a bad tourist map of wine country and go for a drive. On our first visit Lainie (that’s her behind the camera) and I went to Treadwell’s restaurant for some lunch and got some great recommendations about wineries from James Treadwell. He told us about a little craft winery called Five Rows.
On our next trip, not too much later we headed over to check it out. What we found was very inspiring. The Lowreys, owners of Five Rows, are a fifth generation farming family. Howie (dad) is a grape farmer, Wilma (mom) runs the winery and grows lavender, and Wes (son) is the winemaker. You can check out their story on the Five Rows site, great people and great wine http://www.fiverows.com. While talking to Wes, and I was really inspired by his passion for wine and the pursuit of his dream, so I told him a bit about my own plans. As we talked he mentioned that his family has a small plot of fallow land that might suit my needs.
Forward to spring of 2010 and weather permitting we will be tilling the fields and planting soon. And so with the gracious help of the Lowrey family, Lainie, and Ella, I begin my quest for the Veg Less Traveled.