Variety At The Market
Fekete Produce Feeds The City & The Village
Growing Together: Ethan, Jillian, Madilynn, Carolyn & Steven Fekete
For over 50 years, the Fekete family of Burford have made the early morning drives into the Tri-Cities to sell their produce at the Kitchener Farmers Market. However, when the pandemic caused the market’s closure, selling direct off the farm via their Facebook page realized a dream of also providing for local customers.
As we all know, farming is about not just growth, but adaptability. Although it began primarily as a livestock farm when Steven Fekete’s grandparents immigrated here from Europe in 1951, vegetables and grain crops became the focus when Fekete’s parents took over in the 1970s. Steven began farming in the 1990s and has expanded the acreage as well as the variety of vegetables grown. Today, 20 acres grow vegetables, while corn, soybeans and rye grow on rotation on the other 45 acres.
Harvest Is Serious Business For Fekete Family
Fekete’s main vegetable crops are beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, onions and potatoes. Their farm is completely run by members of the family, where Steven’s wife, children, and even his mother work together to produce their variety of crops. As they grow storage crops which are sold during the winter months, these farmers don’t really get time off, although Fekete reports that their busy season begins in February when the greenhouse tasks start (they have a 4000 foot greenhouse), and ends in November with the completion of the harvest. Although available labourers dwindle as the children grow up and move away from the farm, the fact that all of their major crops are now machine harvested lessens labour demands. With this in mind, they have also recently upgraded their transplanter so that only one person is required for operation.
“I would consider the ever-changing weather to be our biggest challenge.” says Fekete, who also cited the drastically increasing input costs as another factor for growing concern.
Canadians have enjoyed relatively low food costs until now, but, with the price of everything increasing, food costs will follow. Fekete also cites product availability as an issue in managing pest and weed challenges. Horticulture simply doesn’t get the lion’s share of attention in the agricultural product development scene. Fekete explains that, in contrast to corn and soybean crops which generate the birth of many new products, older products are being discontinued, but newer solutions are not being produced to replace them on the horticulture side.
In spite of all of this, Fekete says he chose farming and enjoys it. “Every day is different as tasks vary with the seasons.” He goes on to echo what so many farmers say about the satisfaction of the trade: “Watching a crop progress from start to finish is very enjoyable especially if it turns out successful. Plus,” he adds honestly, “I enjoy being my own boss.” Steven’s wife, Carolyn, reports that she finds the potato harvest to be the most enjoyable crop.
Fekete’s Feeding The City At Market
In addition to the knowledge obtained by the three generations of Canadian farmers in the family, Fekete says he gleans a great deal of information from the internet. Of course, the family also obtains knowledge from networking with other farmers, attending trade shows and seminars, and looking to OMAFRA for recommendations.
Fekete Produce ensures little is wasted by also selling second grade produce. Horses enjoy their carrot seconds, as do consumers of carrot juice. Potatoes and tomato seconds are also re-purposed.
A quick look on their Facebook page shows the diversity of their bounty: celery and parsley root, carrots, shallots, cabbages of many varieties, potatoes and beets all grace the screen and consumer plates, coming straight from Fekete soils. We can all be grateful for the adaptability of this farming family who took to the internet when markets closed so that the greater Burford area now has full access to what once was only enjoyed by those closer to the big city.