Harry Stoddart is a sixth generation farmer in Ontario, Canada. He farms 560 certified organic acres in the Kawartha Lakes region within the shadow of the Greater Toronto Area with his wife Silvia and their 5 children. Harry’s farming career started with buying his parents conventional confinement hog farm. He managed a major expansion – doubling the sow herd and tripling the land base in three years. He also managed to narrowly avoid bankruptcy due to the combination of a devastating disease outbreak and the hog market crash in ’98. He then spent 7 years working as a management consultant for some of the largest global consulting organizations before returning to full-time farming.
Harry started the transition to organic production almost 15 years ago as a desperation strategy to save the family farm. He and a partner grew their combined certified organic operations to 2000 acres of cash grain production, making them one of the largest certified organic farms in Ontario. In 2008 Harry and his partner divided their land base, divided their equipment and dissolved the partnership. Each focusing on the land closest to home (they were 80 miles from one corner of the land base to the other). Harry and Silvia decided to focus on direct to consumer sales of grass-fed meat. Their Meat CSA continues to sell out even as it grows each year.
Harry and Silvia have used almost every marketing structure available to organic producers: wholesale grain sales; package grain sales to millers, restaurants; farmer’s markets; vegetable sales to restaurants, meat sales to restaurants and institutions; founded a vegetable co-op; sold to a multi-farm vegetable CSA; sold through their own Meat CSA; and conventional commodity production.
Harry is a popular speaker in the sustainable agriculture community and is currently a faculty member in the Sustainable Agriculture program at Fleming College in Lindsay Ontario. Real Dirt: An Ex-Industrial Farmer’s Guide to Sustainable Eating is Harry’s first book.