Getting to Know: Connor Desjadin
Founder of Jardin Farms
Although Sault Ste. Marie is home to Canada’s largest wind farm, it’s also the home of Jardin Farms, an organic farm which owner Connor DesJardins says focuses on, “sustainable farming practices while producing vegetables and free range eggs.” As technology advances, especially in the food industry, the sudden reinvestment into local food economies has become especially important. “In high school I started working on a farm close by,” the small farmer says. “I have always enjoyed being outside and working with my hands. Farming was a good fit.”
Although Connor found out about entrepreneurship through his mother (who had a children’s clothing business) and high school classes, he advises to that it’s also important to gain experience in your interested field before launching a company; “I worked for 9 seasons on different farm operations before starting my own, and it was the best thing I could have done.”
“In the beginning I had the idea that we would produce everything possible on the farm. Over time we have focused in on vegetable and egg production. This allows us to focus and do those things well, versus multiple enterprises that would spread us too thin,” Connor says.
As small farmers continue to face many challenges, with small investments, Connor believes a lot could change. “I would definitely invest in more infrastructure, like greenhouses and a central warehouse that houses processing facilities and walk-in fridges. This would allow me to scale-up to a size that allows to hire on employees with full wages,” he continues.
Locally grown food sources are not only important economically and environmentally, but also, often simply taste better. If you’re interested in Jardin Farms, you can get involved by heading down to The Mill Market every Saturday from 8AM-2PM and meeting Connor — or, as he says, catch him drinking coffee at Shabby Motley of Cafe Natura.
Story written by Erin Ashley
Connor is a participant in the Hook It Up program delivered by Socent7. Hook It Up is a support program for young social entrepreneurs in Ontario. Learn more at www.hookitup.ca.
**END OF PROGRAM UPDATE** Connor has utilized Hook it Up’s support towards a new greenhouse and is in the midst of securing certifications to allow him to supply to local grocery stores. His message to other young entrepreneurs “ I wish I knew how much money it was going to take to get to where we are now. There were a lot of overlooked costs like insurance or permits that were not factored in when we were determining the startup costs. If I gave one piece of advice it would be to take it slow and make sure every little detail is covered. That can be difficult if you are new to that field, so if you are able to work for someone else doing the same thing you can learn on their dime and time.”