Nicole Shaw & Dirk Becker ~ Transfarmations

If you have even been once to the Errington Farmers’ Market in the past five years, then you will have met Nicole and Dirk.  They’re passionate community builders and catalysts for positive change in the world.   And how do they connect with people to make this all happen? By also being hard-working farmers who have grown and sold tens of thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables, connecting to people in this most fundamental of ways.

The reason we farm for a living, growing 16,000 pounds of vegetables by hand, no till and organically, is because it is the single best tool we have found to reach people and have meaningful conversations about our culture and where we are headed. We all eat,  and food is a medium to talk about health, our children, how we plan our cities, and how we can change our culture for the better.  In short, local food is the single most powerful tool we have at our disposal to change the world and make it a better place.

And that local food is delicious. Kale and garlic are their top sellers, but their favourite item to bring to the market is an incredibly colourful array of squash.  In fact, they produce over 6,000 pounds of it and grow over 15 unique varieties!  This dynamic couple spend hundreds of hours planting, tending and harvesting, and can’t help but have favourite vegetables to grow.  For Nicole, it’s the jewel-like heirloom tomatoes that she grows from seed, and Dirk waits all year long to dig his potatoes by hand.  It’s like discovering gold!

Making a livelihood as a farmer is not without its challenges, and having to regularly defend the true costs of growing healthy, nutrient-dense food as well as competing with slave-labour-dependent imported food in the grocery stores is the greatest of them, particularly when they have kept the same prices for over a decade. But while this can be the most difficult aspect of their vendor role, dealing with people also offers the greatest reward.

Farmers’ markets are a fantastic opportunity that goes far beyond simply selling one’s products. Much more than that, they are a place and space where people meet, connect, learn, build relationships, support local, rebuild, and reinvigorate local economies, increase self-sufficiency and self-reliance. As a matter of fact, a number of our closest and dearest friends are people that we met at farmers’ markets!

Stop by Nicole and Dirk’s booth on a market Saturday.  You’ll find yourself engaged in lively and thought-provoking conversation. You’ll be supporting a grass-roots economy. You’ll come away with the freshest possible local food.  And after savouring that food for the body and food for the mind….you might just find yourself transfarmed for the better, also.

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