Jason Verkaik, President and Operator of Carron Farms Ltd.
Local Food Hero 2010
Carron Farms Ltd. is owned and operated by the Verkaik family, who have been producing fresh vegetables in the rich soils of the Holland Marsh since 1934. Jason Verkaik, the current president and operator of Carron Farms, accepted this award on behalf of this father and grandfather, who were among the first settlers of the Holland Marsh. “It is nice to see farmers being recognized,” he said.
Jason works hard to include newcomers on his staff and among his customers. For example, one of his long-time staff, a gentleman who arrived from India 35 years ago, spoke about the red carrots they eat in India. The farm then incorporated red carrots into their growing cycle, which sold out within three weeks. This demonstrated that there is local demand for ‘foreign’ crops (or ‘world crops’). Jason wants to work with others, such as seed developers, so that such food can be grown successfully.
He stresses that: 1) We need to change people’s food purchasing to local foods to create a strong agrarian base; 2) We need to address this disconnect in the food system; 3) We need to preserve farm land with sustainable practices so that farm land will continue to exist for future generations.
Unique Food System Problem
The Verkaik family is concerned about the mass production mentality that has dominated the food system through the practice of mono-culture farming in the past 50 years. This mentality has disconnected the consumer from what food should taste like and how it is grown, which has negatively impacted the environment and the local agrarian base.
Unique Food System Solution
The Verkaik family practices seed-saving techniques and works with local seed developers to grow a wide variety of heirloom crops in a sustainable manner. Just like the preservation techniques they practice in growing heirloom vegetable varieties, they also believe in the preservation of the land with sustainable practices, so that both the crop varieties and the land will be available for future generations to continue the farming legacy.