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Let's Eat: Sleepy G is a small farm in Sibley with a big heart

Sleepy G Farm is the only certified organic farm in Northwest Ontario.

PASS LAKE -- Nestled in the rocky outcrops and green valleys of Pass Lake there is a little agricultural gem with a large focus on community and inclusion.

Owners and founders Marcelle and Brendan have operated in the area since 2006 and established Sleepy G Farm in 2010. Since 2014 the farm also has the distinction of being the only certified organic farm in Northwest Ontario.  Focusing on vegetables, as well as a flock of hens for eggs and short horn cattle for beef.

Marcelle and Brendan were born and raised in Southern Ontario, and they met while attending Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.  After working for a few years in B.C. they invested in Sleepy G Farm and have been growing ever since.

The farm has uses the CSA (community supported agricultural) model for about 80-85 per cent of it’s food distribution. Marcelle explains, ”Members declare their support for us, through a deposit or a prepayment in the wintertime about this time of year to secure their portion of our harvest - their CSA share for the summer and fall months.” Signing up for a membership is easy on their website:

They began this program in 2010 with 20 community members and in the past decade their membership has grown to almost 300 members. Members get fresh veggies straight from sleepy G every week or every other week, depending on what they select. Over the years, the CSA program has evolved to where members can select the specific items in their share ahead of time online.  Members pick up their share locally, Marcelle explains, “They meet in town and it’s a community day, a lot of our members know each other, we have done very little advertising, our CSA program has mainly spread by word of mouth. Which is really the best way to recruit new members.”  

This year, Sleepy G has implemented a sliding scale fee schedule to the CSA program. They wanted to offer more options and be more inclusive by making the program as accessible as possible for everyone. People can choose to pay 20 per cent less or 20 per cent more or the regular old price. “There’s no pressure to select one or the other, it’s self selection. If folks want to apply to receive a deeper discount, which is directly correlated to how much our other members have contributed towards the subsidy fee, then they can apply to receive 50 per cent off or even free. So it’s basically a mechanism for our members who are a little bit more comfortable in their lifestyle to support members who may finding signing up for a CSA or even growing to a grocery store at bit of a stretch financially."

Sleepy G is very excited to add this aspect to their CSA program and hopes that it attracts a clientele who may not have otherwise considered themselves eligible for a CSA membership. Marcelle was inspired by other farms who have implemented similar programs with success. “A lot of our members know each other and we know all of our members by name, it is a real community."

They also run a winter program where members can sign up for Winter shares. They don’t grow vegetables in the wintertime, but they distribute veggies that they’ve grown in the summer and have stored over the winter. This program runs between the months of October and February. In Northwestern Ontario, with an extremely limited  growing season, Sleepy G is able to distribute produce from the end of July to early March - an absolutely impressive output. A few years ago they invested in a large warehouse, they’ve termed the ‘root cellar’ where they store all the winter vegetables. "That has allowed us to really extend the harvest for months beyond when we are actually harvesting."

The Spring garden sale is something new that Sleepy G has offered over the last few years. “We love gardening and we know other people love gardening. Not only is it important to secure one’s own food stability; but to keep healthy both mentally and physically.” Sleepy G Farm wants people to enjoy the food the farm offers but also experience the satisfaction of growing food themselves. Marcelle starting growing extra transplants to sell, which evolved into also offering seeds and fertilizers.  Everything they sell are plants and products they use themselves, “Things that they really believe in.” The proof is in the results. The pre-sale will be online on the Sleepy G Farm website by late March and they also plan some pop-ups around town or at the farm. Watch for Marcelle and Brendan as the snow thaws, or visit Sleepy G for yourself this summer.

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