History of Cullen’s Foods
Ben Cullen grew up in a gardening family and, in pursuit of his love of food, attended agriculture college in the heart of Ontario’s farm country: Ridgetown, Ontario. When in Ridgetown Ben became immersed in the culture of Ontario’s agriculture industry and forged relationships which are strong to this day. After attending university in Nova Scotia and working the food industry, he decided to launch Cullen’s Foods to promote a model of food business that connects agricultural producers more directly with consumers. That is why we are 100% transparent in our supply chain and deal directly with farmers we know, rather than using intermediaries. This allows us to promote more sustainable food systems at home, while supporting better systems abroad through our not-for-profit partner, S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation.
We believe local food can support better systems at home and abroad, which is why we partnered with S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation with a minimum annual contribution of 1% of sales.
You can also find Ben Cullen in the weekly Toronto Star column he shares with his dad, Mark Cullen, where they cover a range of environmental, gardening and food-related topics. Ben and Mark also host a twice-monthly podcast, Green File, in addition to their newsletter which can be found at www.markcullen.com
Meet the Farmers
Chad and Amy FennellChad and Amy raise beef and grow a variety of crops in Middlesex County, Ontario. The couple met on a farmer-specific dating website after Chad, a fourth-generation farmer, found Amy, a native of Gary, Indiana, who had developed an interest farming on her 2-acre urban lot. Fennels have traditionally been a conventional beef operation which they aspire to take in a more sustainable direction, starting with 50 acres of land converted to organic starting in 2016. Chad and founder Ben met while studying agriculture in Ridgetown, Ontario.
Mike Holzworth of Holzworth FarmsMike Holzworth grew up on the family farm in Palmerston which was a medium sized operation involving cash crops and livestock when Tiffany came to join him after completing her degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph. Together they began the transition to organic in 2010, starting with hay, sunflower corn and soybeans. Locally, the Holzworths are famous for their sweet corn which regularly takes home first prize at the Palmerston Fair. Today Holzworth Farms has 220 of their total 440 acres certified organic, with 20 more under transition.
Dan and Miriam of Konzelmann FarmsIn 1996 Dan and Miriam immigrated from Switzerland where they had farmed dairy, taking over a conventional cash crop operation which they began converting to organic in 1999. Today they operate over 2000 acres of organic farmland, making them one of the largest organic growers in the province. Konzelmanns have processed their own seed since they began farming in 1996, and eventually began processing their own crops as well. Eventually, they started accepting grains from other certified organic farms and now they handle over 3500 tonnes of organic grain per year.
Leevi and Vanessa Hotari of Fresh Acres FarmLeevi and Vanessa Hotari grow and process organic edible beans on two farms between New Lowell and King, Ontario. Together with their four kids they are committed to ecologically sound and local food systems.
Lorin and Jody YliojaLorin and Jody Ylioja raise goats on their organic farm alongside various crops including chickpeas and flax near the town of Birsay, in west-central Saskatchewan. In addition to farming, Lorin has a cabinet making business and built much of the family home himself where they live with their eight children.
Tom Trick of Trick’s Creek FarmTom Trick is the current generation to run Trick’s Creek Farm between Clinton and Bayfield, Ontario. Trick’s Creek, named for the family, runs through the heavily wooded and naturalized property where grass-fed beef cattle roam between various pastures and sections of organic row crops which include black beans for Cullen’s Foods.
Johannes and Jacqui KnapJohannes and Jacqui Knap farm with his parents Josef and Maria who took up farming near Bayfield, Ontario after immigrating from Austria in 1989. The Knap farm has been certified organic since 2007, where they grow a mix of cash crops in addition to extensive vegetable gardens and fruit orchards.
Mitchell, Blair and Livia TownsendMitchell Townsend farms with his parents Blair and Livia Townsend near Walsingham, Ontario. Together, the primary focus of their farming operation revolves around the family business Ontario Popping Corn Company, where they are widely recognized for their Ontario-grown popcorn under the “Uncle Bob’s” brand. In rotation with popcorn, they grow a variety of organic and conventional crops including organic navy and kidney beans, which are also processed at their facility for Cullen’s Foods.
Carrigan and Jen MacDougall of Mactab AcresCarrigan and Jen MacDougall of Mactab Acres have been farming since 1999 near Strathroy, Ontario. Carrigan’s father and uncles are also involved to produce corn, wheat, and black beans both organically and conventionally.
Tyler and Sarah FreyTyler and Sarah Frey began organic grain farming in 2017 near Bengough, Saskatchewan in Southern Saskatchewan. They have successfully produced a variety of grain and pulse crops over the last few years. They also run a herd of 200 cattle alongside Tyler’s parents since 2012. Off the farm Tyler works as a journeyman welder with SaskPower and Sarah is a Registered Nurse working in the ER.
Rod & Marcy FreyRod & Marcy Frey, parents to Tyler Frey of Bengough, SK, started farming in 1983 with a 200 head cow/ calf operation. In 2008 they went organic and currently seed about 1000 acres of crops including wheat, oats, peas, and lentils.
Tyler RobertsonTyler Robertson is a 6th generation farmer outside Ridgetown, Ontario (where Cullen’s founder Ben coincidentally attended agriculture college). As the youngest among Cullen’s growers, Tyler is a recent graduate from the University of Guelph with an innovative approach to farming – including homebuilt equipment to deal with the constant weed pressure of organic farming.
Milo and Madison Chubb of Stonehenge OrganicsMylo and Madison Chubb are the father-son team behind Stonehenge Organics, a fourth-generation family farm spanning over 5000 acres in the heart of the Palliser triangle located in southern Saskatchewan. Stonehenge Organics is a grower with onsite processing of pulses including lentils and chickpeas.
Brett Israel of 3Gen FarmsBrett Israel of 3Gen Farms in Wallenstein is a fifth-generation farmer raising organic field crops and livestock with his Dad and Grandfather.
Andrew St JeanAndrew St Jean is an organic farmer from St Mary’s, Ontario and the organic manager for a local elevator dealing exclusively in organic grains.
Phil OegemaPhil Oegema is an organic farmer in St. Thomas Ontario. Phil and his father started growing organically in 2013, now with over 1100 acres certified for organic production. Phil is also active in his local Soil and Crop association, and is a provincial director for the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
About S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation
S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation is a volunteer-run charitable organization that works with small-scale farmers in South and Central America to implement sustainable solutions to the social, economic and environmental challenges they face. Using the “Pass On” principle, those helped assist others to promote healthy communities where people can improve their lives through their own efforts.
Cullen’s Foods believes that by improving local food systems, we can also help build more sustainable food systems abroad. That’s why Cullen’s Foods supports S.H.A.R.E. by donating a minimum 1% of sales to S.H.A.R.E. initiatives.
Find out more information about S.H.A.R.E.