The annual Stone Soup Fall Celebration at Ignatius Farm just north of Guelph recently celebrated the 2019 growing season and abundant fall harvest.
“This is a time for us all to come together to share in the fruits of our labour,” said Ignatius Farm manager, Heather Lekx.
The European folk story, Stone Soup, is one in which hungry strangers convince the people of a town to each share a small amount of their food in order to make a meal that everyone enjoys. It continues today, as a moral tale regarding the value of sharing and how it benefits all who contribute.
“The idea is that everyone brings a vegetable. All pitch in and enjoy the bounty,” Lekx said.
As the soup simmered at St. Brigid’s Villa, located at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, a delightful aroma of spices and vegetables filled the kitchen.
“We're making four different kinds of soup. One is inspired by one of our gardeners which is a borscht, and we also have a lentil and tomato soup and a brothy soup with whatever people bring,” Lekx said.
“We always have a few ideas and then after a while, the soup just takes on a life of its own.”
And of course, the soup would not be complete without a stone delivered by a group of children eager to have a taste.
The celebration has become an annual event for about 10 years and it continues to bring out volunteers ready to stir and chop.
A variety of vegetables including parsnips, carrots, parsley potatoes and tomatoes were prepared by volunteers.
One volunteer, Celeste Lopreiato, was happy to help and it was her first year doing so at the event.
“I like community events and I get my veggies here for my business. And my partner volunteers here as well. I just thought I would come and help," Lopreiato said, “and I have never seen apples pressed before so I really wanted to see what that was like.”
New to the event this year, was making apple cider from apples collected that day from the orchard at Ignatius Farm.
The apples were pressed with an apple press rented from the Guelph Tool Library.
“The centre has always had orchards and for the last six years we’ve leased the orchard but this summer, we thought we would make it available to the community, and Matt Soltys has helped make that happen,” Lekx said.
Soltys, an organic orchardist, played a pivotal role in restoring the orchard.
“It’s about rejuvenating the orchard and reaching out to different food security organizations to develop a vision to help diversify the orchard and make it more meaningful to the larger community,” Soltys said.
“So, from monoculture to community food forest. This is an evolution from the community garden. People now want to see trees and bushes and that’s the model we are going for. We want to encourage more orchards throughout the city.”
But for Soltys, the orchard and the farm are places to learn.
“We have weekly work parties and workshops and last year we had more cohesive orchard training. This an incubator place for people to come and learn,” Soltys said.
For Simone Weinstein, the farm has offered a local opportunity to learn about gardening.
“This as one of the few gardens close by where I could learn about gardening and get my hands dirty,” Weinstein said.
Since 1913, Ignatius Farm has served as the ‘well of sustenance’ for the Jesuit community in the region.
Over the past 20 years, Ignatius Farm has evolved to become a model for organic agriculture and continues to offer mentoring for organic farmers. The farm strives to bridge the ‘urban with rural’, and invites the surrounding community to enjoy and become involved with their local farm
Ignatius Farm Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) has provided families and area businesses with farm-fresh food since 2001. The farm is part of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre — a place of peace committed to fostering an ecological way of life for the well-being of land and people.
According to the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, Community Shared Agriculture began in the early 1960s as a response to food safety issues and the urbanization of agricultural land.
Consumers looking for healthier and ecologically-produced food, engaged small farm operations in a mutually supportive relationship that served to benefit the consumer, grower and the environment.
The resulting Community Shared/Supported Agriculture programs produced nutritious, farm-fresh food with fair and guaranteed profit margins for local growers
Also known as Community Supported Agriculture, CSA is an alternative food access and distribution method where the customer is linked directly to the farm.
The customer, or CSA member, purchases “shares” in the harvest, paying at the beginning of the season and receives a portion of the harvest over the course of the season, sharing in the risk and bounty of food production.
The Ignatius Farm CSA grows over 60 varieties of fresh, certified organic vegetables and fruits and it sells a limited number of shares on a first-come, first-served basis.
Ignatius Farm CSA has adopted a share model where someone can receive vegetables for the full growing season or a shorter seasonal timeline. In addition to the various summer share timelines offered, winter shares are also available in November, December and January.
And working share options are available for those who wish to volunteer in exchange for their vegetables.
The farm uses donations in four areas: share sponsorships, internship sponsorships, community garden plot sponsorships and the Farm Resilience Fund which supports projects and farm infrastructure.
Volunteer, Gillian Murphy, could not wait to get her hands on the vegetables being prepped for the Stone Soup dinner.
“I was an intern here at the farm last year, and this year I am a farm associate. We grow all year round and over 200 families come to pick up veggies from the farm,” Murphy said.
After soup and cider, everyone enjoyed time outside around the campfire.
“It’s so great to come together,” Murphy said.
“This is to celebrate everyone who has been part of the farming season."