top of page
  • Norfolk Farms

Healthy Cloves and Lucky Lee’s

“venture capitalist” and fifth generation farming cousins create a new enterprise


Chad Lee with four-year-old daughter Georgia and Stephan Yaworski by the garlic drying racks.

Seeing that there is a good return with garlic, three men collaborated to create a new garlic enterprise, and then opened an on-farm market to retail that and other produce.


Stephan Yaworski, a self-described “venture capitalist”, along with Simcoe-area Chad Lee and his cousin, Jason Lee, founded the Healthy Cloves Garlic Company last year. “Our farm is dedicated solely to the cultivation of premium garlic varieties,” the company’s webpage states. “Our passion for garlic inspired us to create a farm that is dedicated to producing the finest quality garlic while using sustainable farming practices.”


They harvested their first garlic crop this summer –12 acres of Music and Duganski -- in time to sell at the Perth Lion’s Garlic Festival. They previously sold their garlic scapes, pulled at second curl, to markets in Toronto. “Garlic gives the best returns compared with other produce,” said Yaworski. But they grow and sell more than garlic.


Stephan Shucking Corn in Farm Market
Stephan Yaworski (foreground) and Chad Lee inside their newly-opened farm market

In August, the trio opened a farm market called Lucky Lee’s Farm Market. It’s located in an old tobacco pack barn on the former Kent Creek Apple farm on McDowell Road west of Simcoe. The store retails garlic, squash, late-season corn, cabbage, as well as produce from other local farms. “We intend to sell more of our own produce next year,” said Yaworski, while sitting in the store with Chad shortly after its grand opening.


Yaworski explained that Lucky Lee’s and Healthy Cloves forms part of a larger compilation of five farms which are known as R Stephan Farms. It is currently being rebranded as RLY Farms Inc. to be inclusive of the Lees as partners.


The entire enterprise totals 350 acres, including the former Kent Creek Farm location, which they took over in April this year. This last acquisition not only had bountiful storage facilities, but also 35 acres of apples consisting of 13 varieties, Red Haven peaches and an asparagus field.


The farm store was a natural fit: “It gives better returns than wholesale,” said Yaworski. “Although we do sell off farm.” Lee added that they are also members of Norfolk Fruit Growers.


The Lee cousins handle the bulk of the crop production. Chad is the fifth generation of Lee to farm near Simcoe. Their family’s home farm near Colborne Village is still farmed by his father, Robert, and has been long reputed for their heavy draft horses. Chad does some local livestock trucking, and is married to Crystal, with two children: Carter, aged two and Georgia, four.


Sharing the same Lee roots, Jason already had his own produce enterprise. Lee said Jason is the partnership’s “chief orchardist” and does much of the fieldwork.


Yaworski labeled himself as “a venture capitalist” with much of his investments going into Crescent Homes of Waterloo, which does builds and renovations throughout the region, including Simcoe. “But I love farming,” he stressed.


The businessman cited his Irish and Polish roots as his source for his agri-philia: “There’s nothing better than fried cabbage and potatoes!” Both sides of Yaworski’s family farmed near Stoney Creek, meaning that in his youth, he spent his summers and spare time on those farms.


Yaworski said that his maternal ancestors – the Colemans – have one of Canada’s longest-running farm markets, beginning in the 1800s; now known as Dilly’s Farmacy on York Boulevard in Hamilton. It is owned by his cousin.


So while Yaworski previously lived in Cambridge and then Scotland, he eventually bought his own farm near Waterford -- and expanded. His daughter, Keaira, 18, worked at the McDowell Road farm this year.


Stephan Yaworski (left) and Chad Lee grew cabbage for Lucky Lee’s Farm Market

The Healthy Cloves team chose the Duganski variety of garlic to grow along with the popularly-grown Music because there is “more bite to it,” said Yaworski. This hard-neck variety with purple wrappers grows taller than most, have wider leaves and larger scapes, matures mid-season and stores for up to nine months. Grown on heavier soil at another farm, the garlic slowly air-dries with fans on racks at the McDowell Road site.


Lee said that garlic enhances the crop rotation plan; the partners are thinking of a three-year rotation with produce, then garlic, with root vegetables in the third year. They overwinter with oats, disking it down in the spring to increase soil matter.


The Lees planted 50 acres of pumpkins this year, including Gladiator, which can weigh up to 11 kilograms and has strong handles; the white-coloured Flat White Boer and Crystal Star, and blue and pink varietals.


Said Yaworski, “Every family and every home in North America wants a pumpkin in their yard.”

 

“There are endless possibilities about what we can grow here,” said Yaworski. But his love is the garlic. “I’m a businessman first, but farming is enjoyable.”

Recent Posts

See All

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page