Aman Sedighi manages A-OK Gardens near Brookfield, PEI. He graciously opened his farm as part of an ACORN farm tour this summer. The following notes were taken by Desiree Jans, ACORN Project Manager, during that tour.
Tell us about your farm:
A-OK Gardens produces certified organic vegetables, herbs and fruits on 14 cultivated acres spread over about 100 acres of land. The farm’s name, Aman's Organic Kitchen Gardens (A-OK Gardens), reflects the concept of diversity in design. Crops are grown in a patchwork of smaller beds and the same crop is grown in several locations.That way, if one area is hit by disease or other stressors, there’s another location from which to harvest. Aman says, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket!” The gardens grow more than 50 different types of crops. Aman likes to experiment and saves seed from promising crops. He shared generous slices of his “Aman Special” watermelon; cut fresh from the vine on a hot afternoon, it was especially delicious!
Aman and his family emigrated from Iran in 2010. He had studied agriculture at university and worked as an agricultural researcher. His admiration for farming as a profession is clear and he loves his new role as a farmer entrepreneur. He brags to his friends about his huge office with the open sky for a ceiling. He’s very happy to have landed in PEI and feels that the PEI soil is special because it can grow a lot of different things well. His first job in PEI was on a dairy farm. He asked the farmer if he could grow a few vegetables and herbs and was given a small plot of land. He was soon growing more than his family could use. Once he sold his first collection of herbs to Papa Joes, he knew what he wanted to do!
Why did you become certified organic?
Aman has a deep philosophical motivation for the way he grows food. He says one has to respect Mother Nature. We talk about pests - labeling an insect as a pest is human judgment. An insect may be destructive at one time in the plant’s life cycle but may be beneficial at another time, as a pollinator, for example. Killing that insect may have unforeseen consequences in the bigger picture. Mother Nature keeps a balance now and for future generations. For Aman, growing organically isn’t about certification, it’s a philosophy of how to live with nature.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Aman jokes that maybe his English is not so good but he knows the language of plants!
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Aman gets up early in the morning and likes to work hard. He says he’s “plugged into nature” and that’s where he gets his energy!