1209 Waterloo Dr.
Baden, Ontario N3A ITI
Members of the Pfenning family have been farming since the late 1600s, or as far back as documented family history exists. Since moving to Canada from Germany in 1981, the Pfenning family has farmed 300 acres of organic vegetables and grains and have been third-party certified organic since 1985. With an increased demand for organic products, Pfenning’s has also become a consolidator and packer for about 20 other certified organic growers.
Would you describe your farm as a family farm?
Yes; we currently have three generations actively working our farm. Today, the farm is operated by Wilhelm and Barnhild Pfenning and managed by our sons Wolfgang and Ekkehard with help from their wives, Jenn and Regina.
How many people work on your farm?
In addition to Pfenning family members, we employ about 25 to 30 workers during the peak season of July to December. This relatively large work force allows us to do all of our own harvesting, grading, cooling, and packing. During the growing season the farm is joined by family members of our full-time crew to help with the planting and tending of our crops. Our very diverse team of co-workers have lived in Cambodia, Vietnam, El Salvador, Sudan, Croatia, and Germany. But all share a love for organic agriculture and the fantastic team atmosphere our farm has.
How long have you been farming?
All of our lives. We began in Gnodstadt, the small Bavarian village the Pfenning family had lived in for hundreds of years. We moved to Ontario in 1981.
What do you grow on your farm?
We grow high-quality organic vegetables on a commercial level, including onions, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, and grains.
What do you enjoy most about farming?
Simply put, it’s nice to watch things grow. First the field is empty, then you do what is needed, and then after a while, you have your crops.
Why is organic farming a priority for your business?
Our family has been farming organically since Wilhelm made his first attempt at “chemical-free farming” in 1952. Due to community pressure and lack of expert advice, he reverted to “modern agriculture” for the time being, but kept investigating the possibilities because he was determined to produce wholesome food without destroying the environment and his own health. Then finally in 1965, with two young children and another on the way, Wilhelm and Barnhild decided to give organic farming another try, and they haven’t looked back since.
Pfenning’s is working with organic soil and compost analyses and soil fertility-building programs on an ongoing basis. By applying plant tissue tests, we have learned to grow crops with high mineral content. This results in better taste and a longer shelf life.
We are very active in environmental issues and have spent considerable effort on erosion control and storm water management initiatives on our land. We have also taken initiatives to promote wildlife habitat, and work with beneficial insect and microbe releases to balance every aspect of plant and soil life on the farm. We also take an active role in the practical education of professional farmers and others interested in learning organic farming practices.
Why should people buy organic products?
We think that it’s a matter of choice. That said, every day more people are choosing the organic alternative. It’s not a revolution – it’s just a return to the natural way of doing things.