There is a “permaculture–inspired” farm in Ormstown called Au Jour Le Jour. This year, it isoffering various kinds of produce, including hardneck garlic – a crop that produces green stems, or scapes, that require trimming and are nice to eat. The farm is owned by Jamil Azzaoui.
Azzaoui is fairly new to the agriculture game. He spent most of his life working in show business in the realm of music. Throughout his time in the industry, he did a bit of everything from singing to producing to promoting, to name a few. He says he started his career “as a promotional agent for the Gipsy Kings,” and has worked with Richard Desjardins, Garou, Dan Bigras, and Luce Dufault. Though he took a break from the scene in his twenties, he picked it back up in his forties. He spent some time as a singer/songwriter and did quite a bit of comedy–based music.
When the pandemic hit, Azzaoui was looking for another discipline to occupy his time. He became drawn to the idea of alimentary self-sufficiency. “We hear about this term everywhere. The prime minister talks about it. We saw the difficulties we had when there were problems with transportation and the borders closed. So, that’s where it started,” he says.
He makes the distinction that his business follows a permaculture model, but it is not 100 per cent permaculture. He says there is one thing that all who participate in permaculture can agree upon: that there are three rules to be be followed. “The first is that you take care of yourself, your family, and your entourage. The second is that you take care of the life of the soil. You take great care and pay attention to what you’re doing to the soil. Three, you redistribute the excess in a way that is equitable.” On his farm, he takes care to make sure that the soil stays healthy and canbe used year after year without being damaged. He also strives to keep the land as it is, meaning he works around natural features, such as water pockets, that other farmers may eliminate. He lets such things remain unchanged to promote biodiversity and keep frogs and bugs around.
Most of what he grows and sells makes very little profit. He mainly sustains himself with sales ofgarlic, which is one of the farm’s main focuses.
The Great E-Scape
Recently, Azzaoui made a post on Facebook saying about 80 kilograms of garlic scapes he had collected were about to go bad. In the post, he said that if people wanted to swing by and pick some up, they could. The post blew up and went viral, gathering over 450,000 views. “I had thousands of shares, comments, and messages. People came to get them, and within three hours I gave them all away.” He says that “People were very generous. Many made e–transfer donations”to the farm.
Speaking of garlic, on July 16, Au Jour Le Jour is having a giant fresh garlic harvest day. Azzaoui is looking for 15 volunteers to help. In return, each person will receive one kilogram of fresh garlic and lunch. The day will begin at 9 a.m. Unfortunately, kids are not welcome at this time. Azzaoui encourages people to reach out and sign up to be volunteers for the day.
The farm itself is a simple setup; it includes a small kiosk where people can get their produce.“We aren’t a big team, we’re only two. The kiosk is self-serve. The philosophy is really important; there’s a box and you put in the money. We’re in the field; we can’t be everywhere.”
The small size of the team necessitates this model and Azzaoui hopes that folks will respect it. “We have faith in people, and up until now we’ve never had any issues.” He is excited to continue working his farm, and looks forward to meeting and working with volunteers on July 16.