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Blackshire Gardens
Contact: Hughes, Ahren
Address: 222193 Conc 14, RR1 Neustadt, ON, N0G 2M0
Email Address: ahrenjhughes@gmail.com
Phone: 519-477-2611
About Us
Blackshire Gardens is a 45-acre farm just east of Neustadt. Our production is artisanal in size and quality. We’ve been growing healthy food without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers since we bought the farm in 2011. Currently our main crops are asparagus, forest-grown shiitake mushrooms, and heritage dried beans. We are developing several value-added products such as tempeh and miso that are made with our dried beans instead of the traditional soy beans.

As a city slicker, Ahren started learning about farming in his early twenties, working on farms in British Columbia, Kenya, and around Guelph. In 2011 he and his wife purchased a 45-acre farm near Neustadt that they now call home. Ahren began farming because he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to care for the earth and his community. He figured there was no better way to do this than to farm ecologically and feed people locally. One of his favorite farm activities is harvesting mushrooms in the cool forest when it's unbearably hot and humid out in the field. He loves smelling the rich soil, and thinking about all the microbial life that is hard at work, making it possible for him to grow food. Ahren also loves connecting with customers who are so appreciative of the healthy food that they are soon going to eat. When not farming you might find Ahren scuba diving in Tobermory, or canoeing in Georgian Bay, or enjoying a local IPA beer beside the pond. He wonders if he might have been a fish in a past life.
Practices
Our Certification. All of the farming management decisions that are made strive towards improving the health of the soil with ecological practices such as minimal tillage, crop rotation, cover cropping and using certified organic amendments that bolster healthy soil biology and chemistry. All of these practices serve to promote healthy living soils which in turn produce healthy food. Our production is artisanal in size and quality. We absolutely do not use any harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers. We grow organically but we are not ‘certified’ organic. The certification cost is over $1000 per year for our size of farm and at this point we cannot justify the expense. We definitely support the organic certification process, as it helps to create solidarity in the marketplace and reduce customer confusion around all the different labels - ‘sustainable’, ‘natural’, ‘no spray’. We choose to describe our production as ‘ecologically grown’ as we feel it conveys our holistic approach to farming, one which intimately understands the connections between healthy soils, healthy ecosystems and healthy human communities