About Cookstown Greens
Cookstown Greens is a family-run farm growing over 120 varieties of the best certified organic vegetables, greens, seedlings, garnishes, and edible flowers.
They are located 1 hour north of Toronto, in Essa township. They have 4 heated greenhouses and 100 acres of rich, loamy soil, and have been producing healthful, organic food since 1988.
The farm leaves part of their land untouched and uses non-intensive farming methods, which contributes to the farm’s biodiversity.
They are well known for their quality and flavour, and there are several factors that contribute to achieving this.
The soil on the farm naturally has a higher percentage of clay, which has considerably more nutrient reserves and exchanges than sandy soil (commonly used in vegetable farming, because it’s easy to work with). This type of soil is the perfect habitat for natural life, such as earthworms, microorganisms and (good) bacteria – The farm is full of them and growing each year! Because it is naturally more fertile and nutritious than sand soils, they import very little organic fertilizer and rely mostly on organic matter and natural processes to replenish the soil’s nutrients.
Long, 3 Year Cover-Crop Rotations
On any given field, in year 1, the farm grows vegetables (to sell), and the following 2 years they grow cover crops such as clover, rye, radish or peas (what they seed depends on what type of nutrients the soil needs). This is then cut down, and left in the soil as dead matter. It is then decomposed by the earthworms and microbes, which release nutrients back into the soil. Most large, organic farmers grow cover crops, but often only in 2-year rotations. Our long, 3-year cover crop rotations ensure that the soil’s nutrients are fully replenished, and as naturally as possible. Nutrients and flavour are directly linked, and this is one significant reason why our vegetables taste so good.
Seed Selections & Growing Methods
Cookstown Greens has spent years identifying the varieties that they can grow the best, and that produce outstanding flavours. They seed in a specific way so that they get the perfect sized vegetable. For example, most of our carrots are smaller and more slender than the exact same variety grown by another farm. This is because they are particular about the distance between each seed (less distance= skinner carrot). They continue to grow this way because it’s what their customers want.
Hand Selection & Consistency
Everything passes through their hands before it is brought inside to the fridge, or put into storage. They have high selection and packing standards and package by hand. This translates into quality and consistency – Thier customers know that they will always get the same quality every time they buy Cookstown Greens.
Their Approach – Sustainability & Responsibility
As stewards of the land, Cookstown Greens consistently practices ethical and responsible standards in everything they do.
In addition to growing organically, they foster the development of a healthy ecosystem through methods such as green manure rotation, compost, and sub surface irrigation, which uses 30-40% less water than the sprinkler methods. They only irrigate a small portion of the time, and take much less than permitted.