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Sunday, March 3, 2024
‘If you give something, you will receive:’ NOTL farm hosted free pick-your-own-tomatoes day
Sukyi Finn and Michael Watson have held pick-your-own-tomato days at their farm four times this year. JULIA SACCO

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that the farm uses some organic and inorganic chemicals on crops.

Sukyi Finn’s favourite thing to do with her farm fresh tomatoes is make fresh bruschetta with onions and cheese. 

“We did a couple of dinners and lunches last month and almost 100 per cent of what was on the table came from our farm,” said her husband, Michael Watson.

Finn and Watson started Front Step Farms Inc. on Line 1 Road in 2022 to provide food to the community. 

Watson is a generational farmer originally from Niagara and returned here during the pandemic. He and Finn started growing on the land in 2021.

“After we started – like everybody else – having problems during COVID, we would just focus on hot peppers and crops related to making hot peppers and hot sauce. We then built in some of the crops that we planned initially,” Watson said.

The greenhouse still holds various herbs, kale, rhubarb, swiss chard, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and more.

Last weekend, in response to an overabundance of tomatoes, Watson and Finn decided to hold a pick-your-own cherry tomatoes day, where NOTLers can stop by and fill a bin for free. 

“The cherry tomatoes were starting to become a bit more abundant because we didn’t have ourselves linked with a big chain,” Watson said.

At the same time, their produce was ready late and wholesale selling wasn’t a viable option.

“So then, it became the cherry tomato (picking). We thought, ‘Why not help people have a little taste?’ So that’s what brought us to today.”

They had a pick-your-own-tomatoes day four or five times throughout the summer. Watson said the farm always receives a good bit of interaction with the town, whether people stopped in for a few minutes or an hour. 

After relocating to their current farm location in Niagara-on-the-Lake, they struggled somewhat at first to integrate into the community – these outreach events help them make connections. 

“For the time being we’re really going to focus here and if people want to come they can come – and if they don’t free food gets them to sometimes come, then we meet them and they come again,” Watson said. 

The ultimate goal, he added, is to make food simple and accessible to everyone.

“We’re not giving away gold, the real thing is the concept. If you give something, you will receive,” he said. 

They don’t use pesticides on their produce, though they do use “some organic and inorganic chemistry when no alternatives are readily available or we have not yet developed the practice so the crop will be commercially viable,” Watson said.

“It’s really simple: it’s not rocket science, it’s food,” he said.

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