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Farmers’ Market Spotlight: Heirloom varieties set Levendale Farm apart

July 17, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Marni Walsh


Selene Richens is setting herself apart at area markets by using heirloom seeds to grow produce on “Levendale Farms” near Conn.

The young farmer-entrepreneur is a weekly, welcomed vendor at Shelburne Farmers’ Market on First Street.

Selene Richens grew up on the property that she now farms in Wellington County on the border of Amaranth Township.

She rents five acres from her parents for fruit and vegetable production and another 60 acres to grow hay and grain for her livestock.

After graduating from Mount Forest High School, Selene received her Bachelor of Science and Agriculture degree from the University of Guelph.

During the summer, she worked at Mapleton’s Organics near Teviotdale, Ontario, working in the fields and with livestock.

She also ran her own bakery during her studies at university, and soon learned that she wanted to be her own boss. Although her major was in Animal Sciences, she saw mixed farming as an affordable way to get started.

In 2012, she established Levendale Farms and has been working hard “to provide the local area with fresh, good quality, organic food.”

Selene has three breeding pigs and a boar for pork production, as well as four cows and a bull for beef. She says she hopes to expand her livestock in the future.

She keeps non-medicated bees to provide a more natural honey product for consumers. Levendale produces a wide variety of chemical free berries, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Selene also grows rhubarb and garlic, as well as growing and harvesting currants and apples for juice and cider.

With 6,000 square feet of greenhouses, Selene rotates winter, early spring, and hot summer crops, allowing for June carrots and potatoes and July to October tomatoes and cucumbers.

“We grow just about every vegetable you can name,” she says.

And by “we” she means “she” – currently, Selene runs this farm single-handed, as well as her weekly vendor booths at three farmers’ markets, including Shelburne, Orangeville, and Wasaga Beach. On top of all that, Levendale is a Community Shared Agriculture farm (CSA) making weekly drops for CSA customers who purchase produce for weekly shares.

It is her heirloom produce, grown from seeds that are passed down from one generation to the next that makes Levendale of special interest.

“Varieties that you don’t see anymore,” explains Selene, including Oxheart Carrots, first found in 1870s France; huge carrots “about the size of your palm and shaped more like a triangle.” Also, heirloom potatoes with bright blue flesh inside, and 12 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, ranging in colour from light pink to almost black.

Richens and the fascinating produce of Levendale Farms can be seen every Thursday afternoon from 3-7 p.m. at the Shelburne Farmers` Market on First Street.

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