Am Braigh Farm
Toronto - June 13, 2021 - Following my visit to the Orangeville Farmers’ Market, I made my way to Mono, Ontario to visit another farm that has been on my list from the get go. Following my map down Side Road 5, I was sure that the farm would be easy to spot once in its vicinity. However, my map directed me to make a left onto 5 Line East and I was proven wildly incorrect. Side Road 5 is a mostly unpaved road that looks like it may go on forever. As I continued to drive north, my map indicated that I was ‘at my destination’ while there was nothing but farmland in sight. Luckily, a car was driving towards me and the driver graciously slowed as he saw me roll down my window. I asked the gentlemen (who by the way, had the kindest smile and an accent that reminded me of my uncle from Florida) if he knew where I could find Am Braigh Farm, and well of course he did. He directed me to continue a bit longer down the road. I did and I finally met my destination which was outlined by a small sign at the end of a forked driveway.
As I followed the sign into the right side of the driveway, I was greeted by a small wooden cabin that appeared to be the Am Braigh Farm market. I could tell that the rest of the property was quite private, so I did not explore much further. However, this market told me everything I needed to know about the farm and the people behind it. The entire market is self-serve, lined with shelves of vegetables from the farm. On the right hand side there are eggs, soups, and other pre-made foods from Mono Cliffs Inn and Robin’s Catering. The market also has loaves of fresh-baked bread, local honey and Hockley Valley Coffee. I could see that the checkout book was filled for the day and it was only early-afternoon, showcasing the presence that the farm has in its community.
Am Braigh is a Gaelic phrase meaning higher ground (I have an affinity for the Gaelic language after my time spent at Queen’s University). The phrase relates to the farm’s geographic location in the headwaters of Dufferin County. Further, the farm’s owner strives to create a higher ground to nourish and sustain its community. Over the course of the year the farm produces over 30 different types of vegetables, and also offers locally bought products as a part of its commitment to the environment and the natural food system. The team also utilizes a very progressive greenhouse system that allows them to grow all year round while lessening their carbon footprint. Their growing strategy allows for multiple variations of different vegetables, some of which Ontario farmers only dream of growing in Ontario conditions. If learning this isn’t enough to get you to visit the farm, as a part of their mission to increase food security in their region the team donates 1.5% of their sales to support local food banks and school food programs.
Raised in an urban setting in the small city of Stratford with no background in agriculture, Jamie Richards was always drawn to agriculture. After completing a master’s degree in geography and settling into the teaching profession, his gardening has grown steadily from a backyard garden to a 0.75 acre commercial market garden providing a new post retirement career for himself and the three Am Braigh team members. He bought Am Braigh’s three acres and broken-down old farmhouse in 1992. Richards currently sells about 90% of his summer and fall produce from their small market. He built the self-serve market when his portable stand could no longer accommodate the demand.
To learn more about Richards, his family, and his passion farm, visit the Am Braigh Farm website.