A little while back I came across a “pesticide free” sign at the Farmers Market in southern Ontario. It was Norrine Mattia’s stand, a woman who owns a small patch of land where she grows most of her own produce. I was curious about her sign, and we chatted for a little while, mostly about organic farming practices and the process farmers have to go through to get the right certifications. Clearly enthusiastic, she said:
“[Certification] is costly and not necessary for me. I can assure you wholeheartedly I spray nothing … I’ve got a small farm and a lot left over after harvesting, so why not sell it?”
I noticed the biodiversity of fruits and vegetables she had for sale, which made me think of Joel Walton, the owner of the Organic Plantation House in Grand Cayman – a place I used to volunteer at most Sundays. Joel has repeatedly told me that when you have biodiversity, you’re naturally able to keep pests away.
“Plants communicate,” he’s said. “They have their defences within them.”
His advice to everyone frequenting farmers markets is to ask your farmers what they use on their crops.
This short, conversational exchange with Norrine was enough to earn my trust. I bought some plums and a sunflower, and really enjoyed my experience. If you can, once a week, swap the supermarket aisle for the farmers market stand and shake the hand that feeds you.