The photo above is of Full Circle Foods in downtown Kitchener, where Gaia’s Growers’ produce can be purchased.
Winter might be on the horizon for Canadians, but the cold season proves to be a new opportunity for two garden growers in Waterloo Region. Sara Buczek and Kirsten Sherman, Kitchener residents and the founders of Gaia’s Growers, are getting their hands dirty to start sharing their natural and organic vegetables within the community.
It started as a business idea last January and then the creators of Gaia’s Growers re-connected and instantly shared an interest in food, vegetable gardening and a passion to reduce, reuse and recycle their produce.
The two planned to grow tomatoes, zucchinis and other types of vegetables in unused yards and garden spaces in the Region and sell them to local businesses, such as the organic and natural food store, Full Circle Foods.
In the past, Buczek and Sherman have had separate experiences with vegetable gardening. In the past, Buczek had worked on an organic farm in British Colombia called SSOL Gardens and Sherman has maintained all-natural vegetable gardens on several pieces of land in the area.
The pair currently live together in a bachelor apartment in Kitchener. However, they have had little luck in finding any available land to maintain their vegetables. After several unsuccessful attempts at joining community gardens, the two decided to pitch their idea to local friends, who offered up their unused land and yard spaces.
“[These people] just have these yards with big lawns and they’re usually people who have day jobs and kids and busy lives who don’t really have time to maintain their yard,” Sherman said.
“They don’t have a need for [the yards] and they would love to see something growing there; they just don’t have time to do it themselves.”
Currently, Buczek and Sherman are working to find more natural food stores and businesses to sell their products. However, since the business is still a new venture, the pair is still testing the idea of Gaia’s Growers to see if it can succeed until next year.
“We’re hoping to have a few more plots that we’re already starting to talk to people about and hopefully more sales,” said Sherman.
Now that winter is slowly showing its face the Region, Gaia’s Growers are using the cold weather to time, plan and prepare their upcoming projects.
“The climate in Kitchener is difficult to grow in the winter. Right now, we’re using the winter as a planning and preparation time because the permaculture is actually things you do in all seasons to make sure you’re ready,” said Sherman.
One of the methods Buczek and Sherman are using to grow their produce throughout the season is “overwintering.” The method of overwintering plants means protecting plants from the cold weather in a sheltered area, such as in the home or garage, where they will be able to continue to grow as houseplants.
“It makes the plants hardier, they’re already used to being outdoors and then we know that our crops are going to be good,” said Sherman.
The message of Gaia’s Growers, as described by the creators, is founded within the principles of permaculture. In growing their business venture, Buczek and Sherman strive to use whatever is available to them without threatening the ecosystem. Their slogan, “simple, sustainable, soulful,” is built upon their promise to grow beyond organic produce.
“I know that gardening is a big thing for people, but it’s always [about] buying new seeds, buying new starter kits, buying new soil, [etc.],” said Buczek. “We’re really trying to just use what’s around us and in our environment to minimalize our footprint … on the planet because it’s super important to us.”
Buczek and Sherman are still looking for more useable land and encourage those interested to reach out via Facebook or Instagram.