You may have seen Mans tomatoes in our produce section. You probably buy them because they’re bright, delicious jewels that are tough to resist. Did you know that by purchasing that future pasta sauce you’re also supporting an organic, local, family farm?
Mans Organics is a family farm right here in Alberta, near Coaldale, that produces both greenhouse and field crops. Henk and Rita Mans started the farm in 1994 and had it certified organic in 2007. Their decision to go organic was an easy one due to their awareness of health risks associated with chemical pesticide and fertilizer treatment. Their son Andrew and his wife Denise joined as partners in 2012, ushering in a new era marked by the first stages of greenhouse construction.
A year in the making, the greenhouse now produces an assortment of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers through an extended season (from April and late November). The Mans grow greenhouse crops directly in the soil, and, being certified organic, beneficial insects are their pest control of choice.
The field crop of onions, shallots, and garlic are in rotation with alfalfa and winter wheat to mitigate against disease and keep the soil healthy. Sweet corn, melons, zucchini, and rhubarb are available during the summer months, while cabbage and winter squash, including pumpkin, are available in the fall and into December.
What about pests of the plant variety? The family is no stranger to work in this regard, weeding by hoe or by hand, often using an ingenious home-built, solar powered weed picking cart. The cart allows the user to lay in shade and pick weeds as it slowly moves down a row of crops. This extraordinary amount of manual labor is a daily task during a six to eight week period in the spring.
Mans Organics works hard to keep the farm herbicide and pesticide free because of their belief “that it is a responsible way to produce safe and healthy food”.
Lower-mileage food is just around the corner. True, finding it can be a challenge, but sometimes you’ll get lucky and it will stare up at you from a Community Natural Foods produce counter, jeweled eyes sparkling.
by Lindsey Kemlo