Tiny Monster is a 1/4 acre market garden located on Treaty 1 Territory in Lorette, Manitoba, and farmed by Ryan Gauvin (with the help of his amazing family). Producing a diverse, and ecologically balanced variety of vegetables, using hand-tools, regenerative practices, and with a focus on building healthy soil which in turn supports healthy plants, Tiny Monster is a true example of human-scale agriculture. For Gauvin and his family, this translates into a life engaged with nature, engaged with community, and engaged with meaningful, challenging, and healthy work. The result of this labour is an abundance of local, nutritious, and delicious vegetables, grown to the highest ecological and culinary standards, by nurturing hands.
Tiny Monster is built on the premise of regenerative, human-scale agriculture: functioning as part of the greater ecological system, rather than segregated from it. Our garden, bordered by a beautiful Oak/Ash forest and steps from the Seine River, is small by choice. This is for several reasons. First, it allows us to be more observant of the vegetables growing under our care, and leaves more natural habitat for the micro-fauna that we co-exist with. The outcome of this is high quality vegetables, improved soil, and increased ecological resilience. Second, it allows us to farm using simple human-powered tools that are gentle on the soil, on the earthworms, and on the greater environment. We don’t roto-till our soil, we don’t spray, and we don’t have a tractor. They are unnecessary at our scale. Third, it allows us the opportunity to experiment with unique, and sometimes difficult-to-grow crops that require the close watch and gentle hand of the gardener. The challenge of working at a truly human scale is great, but the rewards are much greater.
We believe that bacteria, fungi, insects, invertebrates, and other tiny monsters are crucial components of a balanced ecosystem and of great benefit to a diversified market garden. Even ahead of the gardener who plants the seed, these micro-fauna are the primary workforce that ensure that the vegetables are happy and healthy. Growing without pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, the core of our model is based on building healthy soil, utilizing a diversified crop plan, and maintaining the natural forested ecosystem that surrounds our garden, thus supporting a plethora of tiny monsters that in turn support the growth of nutritious, tasty vegetables.
We are firm believers in locally-sourced, financially accessible, sustainably grown vegetables. As long as food is being shipped to us from thousands of kilometres away – food that can be grown here at a higher quality and lower environmental and social cost – there is work to be done, and room for more small-scale farms, schoolyard gardens, food co-operatives, and backyard growers. Tiny Monster stands in solidarity with small-scale farmers and farm labourers, wild food foragers, fisher-persons and subsistence harvesters around the world in our belief that bigger does not equal better, and that borrowing from our grandchildren through unsustainable growing practices is never the answer. The fact of the matter is that there is little government support for small-scale market gardens like ours. It is up to us growers, together with our communities, to support each other and move forward towards a more sustainable, more equitable, and healthier local food economy. We are proud to be a part of the movement.
We will be growing in excess of 25 vegetable varieties for the 2020 season, with an emphasis on those vegetables that are suited to our human-scale growing practices. What does this actually mean? Think spinach, arugula, and salad turnips. Heirloom tomatoes, mesclun mix, radicchio and rapini. Our eclectic mix of vegetables will not replace a CSA box from your trusted local farm, but should complement one very nicely.
In addition to growing healthy vegetables to the highest standards, Tiny Monster’s Ryan Gauvin is also an experienced wild mushroom forager, a skillset he cultivated in the pacific coastal rainforests around Vancouver, and refined in the forests and hills surrounding Montreal where he supplied mushrooms to some of the finest restaurants in the country. Wild mushrooms are highly seasonal, environmentally temperamental, and the sustainable harvest require hours of labour and careful observation. The trouble is definitely worth it! As per Provincial regulations, wild mushrooms are not allowed to be sold at any Farmers Market in the province of Manitoba. Please contact Tiny Monster Garden directly if you’d like to purchase wild foraged mushrooms.