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  • Norfolk Farms

Garlic Takes Norfolk by ‘Storm’

Norfolk is a county of family farms that offer a wide variety of field to table crops from fruits to veggies and everything in between.

Group of people standing in a farmers field
From left, Tobermae, Jolnir, Theoden, Acacia, Temiah

Visiting these farms and chatting with the owners has afforded me the opportunity to learn so much about some hidden gems. On a recent visit to Simcoe Farmer’s Market, I came across two young ladies who were tending their stand…Stormin’ Garlic.

Stormin’ Garlic is a family operation, run by the Thiessen family, that was started in 2011 by two  brothers. The business was actually named after these brothers Storm and Jesse. One is now a Mechanical Engineer in Tillsonburg and the other a reno and handyman who works local and still lives on the farm. With the help of Mom Susie and Dad Abram, Tobermae, Jolnie, Théoden, Acacia and Temiah now run the farm and see the crop through from planting to production. The girls, all in their 20’s, are more into the farming and garlic while the younger brother Théoden does a lot of the field work.

They planted their first crop, just 1 acre, in 2011 with a large vegetable garden as well. Garlic is planted deep-in late October early November-and then hilled to help winter it. Hoeing starts in May -with no chemical spraying - in preparation for the harvest season in July. “We’re not certified Organic but we are 100% chemical free” adds Jesse. “We rotate the crop through three fields”.

By mid July the crop is ready to be harvested, or taken out of the ground, by hand. This takes them about two days to accomplish. It is then hung for two weeks and from there the busy season starts. There is even a scaping season when the seed head on each plant is snapped off, by hand, and from there they are pickled. “There is little to no waste with our garlic crop…we use everything” adds Jesse.

Busy In The Kitchen

Their family is a ‘community’ to them. Dad keeps busy working away on farm chores, upkeep, maintenance...wherever his skills are needed. The children are all home schooled by Mom and they credit her with accomplishing all of their goals. “She works behind the scenes and keeps it all together for us”. Mom spends a fair amount of time in their cool, dry, temperature controlled, health approved commercial kitchen producing a wide variety of garlic products. “The Health Unit inspects it on a regular basis. We are also all Certified Food Handlers”.

Stormin’ Garlic considers Simcoe Farmer’s Market their home market but, on occasion, have also travelled to other venues. “We started in Simcoe in 2013, then took a break but have been back full time six years now and always in the same spot” adds Jesse. “Every summer is different because we also like to do a lot of special events. Last year we were at St. Elizabeth’s Village, Hamilton about once a month”.

2 people standing behind products they sell in their shop
From left, Jolnar and Tobermae

They offer a wide variety of their garlic products at these markets and some of these goods include fresh garlic, garlic powder, smoked bulbs, smoked powder, jellies, organic nuts, about 60 spices and herbs. ”You can stock your spice cabinet with the about 60 spices and herbs…Mom mixes some of them herself. It’s one of her favorite things to do because she enjoys working together with all of us”.

With most of the children still at home there is always an extra set of hands to help out with just about anything and everything. “We’re a family community and it all stems from our faith in God” adds Jesse. While some farmers continue to expand their choices of crops the Thiessen family has opted to focus on a crop that they excel in and have mastered due to their team work and dedication.  Much continued success to them all.


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