Jesse Lauzon, Springridge Farm
By Jeanine Moyer
Milton – Jesse Lauzon knows a good story when he hears one, especially when it’s one he’s part of. And he’s proud to be a part of the Springridge Farm story where he talks to visitors about how their food is grown on the farm, gives cooking and preparation tips and shares his love of local food and farming.
Growing up as the kid next door, Lauzon spent his summers working on the farm. After completing chef school in Toronto, he returned to Springridge as part of the community business.
Springridge Farm, located in Milton, is a farm retail and agri-tainment destination. Owned by Laura and John Hughes, the family farm offers seasonal festivals, farm tours, local food and entertainment for visitors of all ages. After spending time in the big city, Lauzon knew it was time to return to the farm and says he’s fortunate to have found a place where he can share a mutual love for farming and food with the Hughes family.
“I’m not afraid to say my job is fun,” says Lauzon, who is food director for the on-farm bakery, food shop and café. He’s busy every day from spring through Christmas creating food from the farm’s fresh ingredients, preparing meals for the café, organizing parties and entertainment and talking to visitors about what he loves most – fresh, local food.
“Everyone loves stories, especially the story behind our food and farm, and as a consumer myself I dig that,” says Lauzon who eagerly discusses everything with visitors from how strawberries are grown to tips for rolling out the flakiest pastry.
Lauzon provide customers with what he believes are “meaningful experiences where visitors can learn the story behind their food.” He’s also responsible for managing the on-farm gourmet food shop where he offers value-added food items like jams, jellies, sauces and chutneys – all made from the farm’s fruits. Over the years Lauzon has noticed his customers’ increasing interest in food, recipes and cookbooks, so he’s been organizing book signings and author events. “It’s like having a party every weekend to celebrate food,” he says. And on any given weekend, they welcome thousands of visitors to the farm.
Springridge Farm has been open to customers since 1975, but Lauzon believes recent consumer interest in local food has helped to expand what the farm has to offer. “Local food isn’t a new thing, it’s just recently exploded,” he says. “Local isn’t just who we are. As farmers it’s what we do – and it makes a great story too.”
As past president of the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association (OFFMA), Lauzon volunteers his time within agriculture to help other farmers market their produce and share their own stories with customers. He was the first OFFMA president that didn’t own a farm himself, something he feels demonstrates the unique opportunities and experiences this industry has to offer. Lauzon says he’s been welcomed into Ontario agriculture where everyone has an important role to play.
Lauzon loves his unique job and knows it is through conversations with people like himself that create a better understanding by consumers when he discusses things like how the food is grown, how best to prepare it and how to enjoy it. He admits customers inspire him too, often sharing their own ideas and recipes. “Our business is motivated by communication, people and partnerships,” says Lauzon. “Some marvel at the location, the food or the atmosphere of the place, but for us, it’s just another day on the farm.”
To learn more about this Ontario farm business, visit www.springridgefarm.com