Meet Kailey Bosch and Rich McFarlane. And their dog Fender. The two are the owners of the Melrose Market Garden located in Belleville. This duo is producing some fresh and local veggies for those in the area. Rich grew up in the house that is now the Melrose Market Garden and Kailey grew up not far, just over in Corbyville. Rich was introduced to the farming life from a very young age, with his family being farmers; he is also currently a full-time carpenter. Kailey studied Nutrition at Guelph University and quickly realized her desire for a garden, after taking an apprenticeship on a farm in Thomasburg.
Having a connection to the food they eat and grow is the main reason the two are working towards being a staple in the area. They are already expanding and now producing food for twenty families plus themselves—and a few markets on the side. Rich isn’t surprised how the two of them got started with the Melrose Market Garden.
Rich: “It’s home. I grew up here—literally right here. I wouldn’t want to do this anywhere else. Ever since we met, it was kind of inevitable. This is the house I grew up in, and just up the road is my family farm. I think agriculture is definitely in my blood. It’s kind of a meld of the two things I guess, the business and the farming. I always knew we’d end up doing something—it’s been pretty cool.”
Kailey: “We’re growing in the soil that grew us.”
When it comes to the local economy and the environment, Kailey emphasizes the importance of having local, accessible and fresh food.
Kailey: “I think it’s really important to embrace and eat locally because it supports our local economy and has a smaller environmental foot print. All of that is so important. But the flavour of actually having fresh food is unparalleled to what you can find in the grocery store. We grow a lot of heirloom tomatoes and we grow them for their flavour profile, not so that they can ship really well and stay good on the shelves.”
Kailey: “The connection to your food is huge. When we first started our dinky little garden, I had a goal that when I was 25 I wanted to be growing, raising and eating all of our own food. And we’re pretty much there. The feeling we get when we eat a meal that we grew and raised or from someone down the road, it feels so good knowing where our food comes from. Also knowing how much work goes into it—you just appreciate it so much more. What our soil is giving to us, and the nutrients that go into that, are able to feed us all.”
Though the garden isn’t certified organic, the two have another term for their veggies. It’s called “Face Certification.”
Kailey: “So, we’re not certified organic, but you are actually talking to someone and seeing them face to face. Our CSA members are welcome to come to the farm and see everything and how it’s grown. They know how we’re growing and trust what we’re doing. So, we don’t feel like we need that organic certification. We tell our customers how we do it and we have a relationship with them. We can tell them, show them and make sure they’re grown the way they would want to eat it.”
The two have a close connection to the farm from growing up in the area and calling it their home. They want to have others just as excited for fresh vegetable as they are. So, what better way to do that than start young.
Kailey: “Actually, some of the staff at the Tyendinaga Public school are CSA members. So, we had a connection there. Rich went there as a kid, and now our niece and nephew are going there. I think it’s important for kids to know where their food comes from. They are more likely to eat their vegetables if they know how they’re grown. I grow veggies for other people, but I would love if people would learn how to grow for themselves. Everyone should know how to grow, at least a few things, like a kitchen garden. I went to the school and taught the kids, grade eight and kindergarten class—I couldn’t believe how into it they got. The kids were digging in the soil; it was a lot of fun, talking to them and seeing their faces.”
But, being an entrepreneur with a farm is not always the easiest business to run.
Rich: “It’s hard to be entrepreneurial about farming because its laborious and you can have an endless list of things to do. But, to own a farm you have to make the list, run the farm and do the work. You have to be extremely adaptable in this line of work. For me, as a carpenter, my day is full of procedures, and when I come home, we have the freedom to do things the way we want.”
But the perks are definitely worth it.
Kailey: “Being an entrepreneur means immersing yourself into your community. That is what really made me love the Bay of Quinte. I didn’t know that there was this much community and support until I became an entrepreneur and got my shy self shoved into it. It’s cool, it’s hard and scary, but cool.”
Kailey and Rich continue working hard on their farm and within the community. They are building their dream to be a community staple and have hopes to even create jobs for locals in the area for the future.
Rich: “To be a community staple. Both of my grandfathers were men where if you needed something or something needed to be done, you could call on them and they would be there. They were just well known to local communities to help, and I think that rings true for me today. It would be really nice to be known as people who grow nice food, are nice people, and of course the vicious guard dog, who is currently sunbathing. I want people to be able to come see the farm—not all the time because it’s our home—and have it become a community hub.”
Kailey: “Our ideal outcome would be to have a farm that feeds families awesome, delicious, fresh and healthy food. I want to be able to create jobs for people in the community and myself.”