We see more bio-intensive, organic, and micro-farms pop up across North America (yay!), but those specializing in growing Afro-Caribbean fruits and vegetables are less common. Inspired by the Creole Gardens in Haiti, Les Jardins des Lakou is nestled on property belonging to the Corry family in the beautiful Eastern Townships, just outside Montreal.
Farm owner Jean-Philippe Vezina has visions of a more sustainable world and healthier, more inclusive communities. He wants to help and inspire Canadians of African descent to connect with and embrace their agricultural and culinary roots. His micro-farm grows Afro-Caribbean produce like sweet potatoes, okra, callaloo leaves, and giraumon squash, all vegetables unique to North America with plenty of health benefits. Fruits and veggies more typical to Quebec, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and more, are also grown on-site. Vezina recognizes that African Canadians are more susceptible to various chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity, which have strong links to fried foods, fatty meat products, and sugary drinks.
By offering clean, nutritious crops not usually available in North America, Les Jardins des Lakou can help mitigate the health crisis while allowing customers to appreciate and enjoy culinary traditions from afar. The farm runs a vegetable box scheme serving the entire Montreal community and offers many recipes on its website to learn more about Caribbean cooking. Customers can also feel good about how their food is grown; bio-intensive farming techniques protect and enhance soil life, and Les Jardins des Lakou is in the process of obtaining its organic certification.