rav singh

Rav Singh explains the okra trials at the Ontario Vegetable Demonstration Gardens, Fertile Ground Farm, St Agatha, ON

Rav Singh has her sights set high. Equity and inclusivity, climate resilience, food justice, and seed sovereignty.  Rav started her farm, Shade of Miti, two years ago on rented land in Caledon, located on Treaty 13 Land. She specializes in growing South Asian vegetables which she sells at farmers’ markets in her home community of Mississauga.

How do seeds fit into the bigger picture at Shade of Miti? Rav explains: “When I was first starting to farm, I was growing a little bit of everything just to see what worked, what didn't work and what customers at farmers' markets would want. In Mississauga, the community that I live in and the communities where I go to farmers’ markets, a lot of them are newcomers. They're people of colour. They're Black community members. And they were wanting certain products that weren't being grown by local farmers. So obviously I was like, ‘Yeah, we can't grow like mangoes and coconuts here, but there's so much that we can grow here.’ That was what first drew my attention to the seed trials.”

Okra is the most popular thing Rav grows and she can’t keep up with demand. She approached Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) to see if they’d be interested in doing a variety trial and has been leading that project for the last 2 years. This year, there are 6 or 7 farmers across Ontario participating. “I'm just really hoping that this will create a foundation of data and knowledge that people can access in the future if they want to grow okra and also just to get people to think a little bit differently around research … who's involved in research and what types of things are being researched.”

Rav is also doing her own mini-experiments with ginger, peanuts, and saffron. And she’s not stopping there. Bitter melon and amaranth trials are next on her bucket list. When she’s not trialing veggies, Rav is also engaged in environmental education and advocacy.

“I think it's important because it is helping us take back control of our food system, when a lot of it has been taken away from us and put into the hands of corporate ag. Doing farmer-led research is a way for us to take some of that back, organize and be better able to identify what our needs are and what the reality is of being a smaller scale farmer. We all know the important role local, small scale farmers play in our food system. I think if we want to work towards things like food sovereignty and food justice: seed sovereignty is such a big part of that. We need to understand our seeds and I think doing like these experiments and crop trials, specifically around seeds, it's kind of building that foundation of seed sovereignty, of seed holding, seed keeping seed sharing, that will help lead us to these bigger things that we're trying to work towards like climate resilient communities, food sovereignty and food justice.”


Thanks to Meredith Davis, Good Roots Consulting, who conducted the farmer interview for this story.