Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables sows the seeds of a sustainable future

by | Apr 8, 2024 | Community, Environment, Hunger Relief

“It has been a very fruitful relationship,” Jessica Wynne said with a chuckle.  

Wynne is the Sustainability Specialist at Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables Inc., winner of the From-the-Farm Award, one of the categories in the 2024 Second Harvest Food Rescue Awards. Within less than a year, Pfenning’s has donated over 300,000 lbs. of organic fruits and vegetables to Second Harvest. 

The Pfenning family has a long history of farming in Germany — more than 400 years — before establishing themselves here in New Hamburg, Ontario in 1981. Pfenning’s spans over 700 acres of fertile farmland, where 40 different crops of fruits and vegetables flourish under the stewardship of the family and their dedicated team. 

Pfenning’s also gives back to the community by supporting local food banks and community fridges. The partnership with Second Harvest allows the farm to broaden its impact to more people in need across the province. A donation typically takes several days to process and involves different teams: from packing, weighing to loading.  

“It’s a team effort and a team desire to want to make our community a better place,” Wynne said.  

Receiving a Food Rescue Award was a humbling and emotional experience for both Wynne and the Pfenning’s team. Cognizant of the magnitude of avoidable food waste in the food industry, Wynne said it was a wholesome feeling to know that every odd-looking carrot, bunch of greens and pint of strawberries could find a home in somebody’s pantry. 

“Farmers in general have a tremendous opportunity to make a meaningful difference regarding food security in our local community, our province, our country,” Wynne said. “It’s just a matter of wanting to feed our neighbours and having that extra diversion step so that our produce goes to feed people rather than ending up in compost.” 

At the heart of Pfenning’s mission is a deep-rooted commitment to sustainable practices that preserve the balance and prosperity of the ecosystem for the next generation. To Wynne, it’s as simple as “farming with nature” by respecting the ecosystem that includes not only the crops, but also microbial life and soil health, the employees who are planting, harvesting and packing the items, and the consumers of the produce.  

As an active member in organizations such as Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, Canadian Organic Growers, the Organic Council of Ontario, Pfenning’s looks to inspire and work with other like-minded farmers to explore innovative options and opportunities for the farming industry to do better.   

Pfenning’s current collaboration with Second Harvest champions a circular food economy. Surplus produce not meeting donation standards is returned to Pfenning’s for composting, nurturing next season’s crops. This ensures nothing goes to waste — it’s the best of both worlds: nourishing people and the soil for healthy and resilient crops. The project is well underway, and Wynne is excited to see the results in the coming months. 

Looking ahead, Pfenning’s envisions a future grounded in continuity and commitment. 

“We will continue to be a family-owned organic farm that prioritizes the relationship we have with the land, our team members and the people consuming our crops,” Wynne said. “It is this relationship and our responsibilities that will help to propel our sustainability and philanthropic goals.” 

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