This story began in 2015, when Madeleine Maltby and Matthew Mason-Phillips teamed up and started urban farming in Ottawa backyards. Devoted to the principles of sustainable agriculture, and to the dream of farming the city, they quickly grew Backyard Edibles into a successful business that supplied top quality produce to farmers’ markets, restaurants, and retailers across the city. They also threw a microgreen business into the mix, building from scratch in a City Centre warehouse. After several successful seasons, the two knew it was time to consolidate operations on a farm of their own. In 2020, Backyard Edibles moved its entire operation to a beautiful NCC farm property in the east end of Ottawa, located next to one of Canada's most diverse ecological reserves, the Mer Bleue Bog & Conservation Area.
During this time, Matt Hodder and Kalen Stevens-Heap were just getting into farming. They had always grown their own food in their backyard or community garden plot, but had never officially worked in farming. After 15 years in the food industry, including years of selling produce at the Ottawa Farmers’ Markets, they decided that farming was where they could really make an impact. Matt jumped in first, and started working at Roots Down Organic Farm in Gananoque, Ontario. Kalen joined him a year later, and over four seasons, the two got a solid education in organic food production. When the pandemic struck and access to local food was threatened, they teamed up with Roots Down owner Jeff Klug and started FarmScore.ca, a local online farmers’ market that delivers groceries from 30 local farmers and producers to customers’ homes across Ottawa.
In 2020, after four seasons of long distance commuting, Matt and Kalen were looking to work closer to home, and looking for somewhere to grow their own produce for FarmScore. At the same time, Madeleine and Matthew were looking for some team members to come on board and help them transform their NCC farm. The four started working together, and after one season, decided they could potentially do great things together! They formed a partnership, and Heart City Farm was born. Heart City exists to farm in harmony with this unique and beautiful part of the city, respecting the land first while providing top quality organic produce to Ottawa.
meet your farmers
Madeleine's passion for farming began after her time studying ecological restoration in school. After an internship on a farm just north of Ottawa, Madeleine adapted what she learned on a rural farm and brought those practices to her hometown.
In the off season you'll find her exploring the outdoors, studying trees, and playing guitar.
Matthew grew up just outside of the city and always had an interest in working outside and growing food. After studying international development and working in community development and the trades, Matthew decided it was time to join forces with Madeleine and give farming a shot.
You can often find Matthew cooking up a storm and grooving to music, going on adventures with his pup, Winnie, or reading a good book with a great cup of coffee.
Bio is coming soon! In the meantime go say hi to Kalen at the farmers' market!
Bio is coming soon! In the meantime go
say hi to Matt at the farmer's market!
Heart City strives to build and contribute to a flourishing local food system by taking a soil-first approach to farming where giving back to the earth is just as important as taking from it. In order to build and sustain the healthy soils that are the foundation of sustainable food, here are some of the practices followed out in the fields of Heart City:
- using minimal tillage when creating garden beds, to leave as much soil structure intact as possible after the initial bed is formed
- utilizing mulch and tarps to protect crops and soil
- creating our own compost using microgreen refuse and buying organic certified compost & manure when needed
- using natural pest controls by strategically planting crops and using floating row covers to create physical barriers rather than using chemical methods
- promoting biodiversity by growing flowering crops to attract pollinators and beneficial insects, and creating wildlife corridors throughout the farm property
- practicing crop rotation and enriching soil with cover crops
- sourcing organic non-GMO seeds (including for our microgreen crops) wherever possible
- growing our microgreens in a certified organic soil mixture with no amendments required
- reusing/repurposing as much as possible around the farm and within our operations
- using minimal packaging for our vegetable crops and RPET clamshell containers for our microgreens