Ekk and Jennifer Pfenning

Ekk and Jennifer Pfenning, organic
farming pioneers

 Local Food Heroes 2007

Ekk and Jennifer Pfenning are farmers who were among the first to make local organic food available to commercial retailers in the Toronto area. At Pfenning’s Organic Farm they demonstrate a holistic approach to their agricultural practices by managing the nutrient balance in their soil to achieve optimal plant health, which in turn provides the right balance of nutrients in the food they harvest. The Pfennings also focus on community building and social sustainability by employing migrant workers and refugees, to provide them with their first Canadian job and work references.

Unique Food System Problem

The Pfenning family has been farming since the late 1600s, a time when everyone farmed organically. At the turn of the century, chemicals were introduced into agriculture and the farm began to use them as a “modern farming technique”. Yet, they found that while short term gains were profitable, the yields were not sustainable and it was negatively affecting the family’s own health. These conditions caused the Pfennings to question the nutritional value of the crops they were now growing and the impact that the chemicals were having on the soil.

Unique Food System Solution

In 1965, the Pfenning family reverted to total organic farming and today they have a thriving business, producing grains, legumes, vegetable and other crops. The Pfenning family is well aware of the hardships and market pressures that farmers face in trying to go organic, thus they aim to share as much knowledge as they can to encourage others to pursue a change towards growing wholesome food. This change is vital in order to prevent further environmental degradation and bolster human health.