I had just finished a job with Matt Barnes and while we were waiting for our flight at La Guardia we started talking about ideas of things we wanted to shoot. I mentioned that I wanted to photograph at a farm and do some portraits of a farmer, but had not done any research as to where or who yet. He quickly suggested in “You should ask James, his family has a farm up in Uxbridge.” That was the start of this little project. My initial idea was to photograph an older more stereotypical farmer, working the land and doing “farmy stuff”. It quickly evolved after I met up and chatted with James. After scouting, I realized that my initial idea was not going to work, but that just meant rolling with it and changing it up.
Thankfully the Forsythe’s didn’t mind me invading their barn to set up a mini portrait studio and peppering them with questions as I photographed them. I always knew farmers were a hardworking bunch but it became even more apparent when I asked James how long his typical day was when doing the farmers market in the city. His answer came as a shock, James gets up at 3 am and will get back to the farm at around 11 pm and he does that multiple times a week. This passion for farming didn’t come to James as early as it did to his father and brother. James worked in the city at a tattoo shop (which his folks weren’t too thrilled about) in his earlier years. However this allowed him to meet and befriend Josh who was his boss at those shops but now works with James as the operations manager for Homegrown CSA.
In addition to Homegrown James runs farmers market days on Tuesday and Thursdays at the Anchor Social Club in Leslieville from 3pm to 7pm and one on Sunday at Unionville. On Fridays through Sundays Joshua and James do the deliveries for their subscribers. Unlike traditional CSA models, James allows short term subscriptions. He realized that paying up front for a seasons worth of produce was not always feasible for many of his customers, and by giving them the option to do go on a week to week basis, would attract customers who would otherwise shop at traditional grocery stores. The advantage for his customers is now they get extremely high quality and fresh produce grown locally in the province, at very affordable prices. Another great thing that James is doing with Homegrown is that every 10 shares sold, Homegrown will donate a share to women's charity focusing on helping women restart their lives with their families. This is a cause that he cares deeply about.
As the sun went down, we made our way to the back of the farm towards the pond and got ready for a little evening session of branding. Each share of produce is delivered in a box that is branded by James and Josh by hand. It’s little personal touches like this that they use to set themselves apart and have fun. As we waited for fire get the brand to temperature, we drank some beers, shot a pellet gun at empty bottles, swapped stories and shared laughs. In an age where you can buy anything at the click of the button, it was comforting to know that there are people out there passionate about providing us with excellent quality food, sourced locally and active in giving back to the community.