Antony John and Tina Vandenheuvel, a Sebringville-area husband and wife who have dedicated their careers to organic farming, are the latest honourees of the Stratford Perth Museum Agriculture Wall of Fame.
John McIntosh, chair of the committee, pointed out that their influence has extended far beyond Perth County.
“The committee is pleased to announce our choice from this year’s nominees,” said McIntosh. “This dynamic couple have become well-known – not just in our area but stretching out to the greater food community with their organic farm produce marketed through their Soiled Reputation business.
“Antony and Tina have proven that agriculture and food production and marketing comes in different shapes and sizes and we felt should be recognized for their accomplishments.”
Antony and Tina started their farming careers in 1983 at Heuvelholm Farms just north of Sebringville, working for Tina’s father, Joe. In 1993 they bought an 80-acre farm from Tina’s parents in Perth East.
At the time Antony was a landscaper and two of Stratford’s finest restaurants were among his clients. It was at this point Antony recognized an opportunity to supply local restaurants with vegetables, most notably salad greens, and by 1993 the couple founded their farm operation, Soiled Reputation
By 1999 Soiled Reputation had achieved certified organic status, and has maintained that standard every year since. Soiled Reputation expanded rapidly, growing into a year-round operation of 15,000 square feet of greenhouses and 28 certified organic acres, making it one of the largest certified organic market gardens in Canada.
Today, hundreds of varieties of unique and hard to find culinary vegetables are produced (over 20 varieties of tomatoes alone).
During the peak months of summer, the farm produces almost 500 pounds of various salad mixes every week, all picked one leaf at a time, and thousands of pounds of gourmet vegetables.
Since its inception, the work force to plant, weed, and harvest all this food has been entirely local. Since 2012, over 130 jobs have been created by Soiled Reputation Farm, and many of the workers come back year after year. Today, the 16 acres of field crops and 15,000 square feet of greenhouses generate an annual income equivalent to a 500-acre cash crop operation.
“Tina and I are deeply honoured and humbled by our induction into the Stratford Perth Museum’s Agricultural Wall of Fame,” said Antony. “To have our life’s work held up for regard in a county famous for it’s agricultural output is one of the highlights of a career in organic farming together.”
Soiled Reputation has established itself as the industry standard for high-end, locally grown organic produce. Their vegetables grace the tables of some of the finest restaurants in Toronto, Niagara, Stratford, Kitchener-Waterloo, and London and chefs from all over the world visit the farm or seek out the food grown there.