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Ontario's lone lentil farm can be found in Elora

Lau tea da Lentils co-owner, Laura Ferrier, explains the humidity makes it hard to grow lentils in Ontario

WELLINGTON COUNTY - There is a strong pulse coming from outside of Elora that is supplying local lentils to various businesses within the community.

Lau tea da Lentils has been growing lentils, a type of pulse similar to beans, peas and chickpeas, for over eight years. The farm claims to be the only lentil grower in Ontario.  

Laura Ferrier, co-owner of Lau tea da Lentils, said the farm harvested its first batch of lentils in 2017 after friends from Saskatchewan challenged them to do so in 2016. Today, they produce large green lentils and lentil flour, alongside soybeans, hay and wheat. 

“It’s been really good," said Ferrier about the interest in locally-grown lentils. "From the first time I approached the first business in Elora, they jumped right on it, and ever since, I’ve grown the number of people I provide to, to spas, to restaurants, to resorts, to bulk stores, to specialty markets, it’s been really good and it’s nice that people want to support a local, young, family farm as well.”

This year, Lau tea da Lentils was awarded the Excellence in Agriculture by the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce. Ferrier said the farm is pleased to have received the award.

“It’s wonderful, we don’t do it for recognition at all, but it’s certainly nice to be recognized for what we are doing," said Ferrier. “In general, we were very fortunate with our backgrounds in agriculture and our connections to help these lentils grow and be successful at it.”

Canada is the world's largest producer and exporter of lentils, with Saskatchewan producing 95 per cent of lentils in Canada, according to lentils.org, a brand funded by the non-for-profit, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

Ferrier explains lentils grow well in Saskatchewan due to its dry climate. In Ontario, she said the humidity makes the plant vulnerable to disease. 

"We had to baby them along to make sure they were healthy during the growing season," she said, mentioning the growing season for lentils is between May to mid or late August. “Compared to corn, wheat or soybeans, they are certainly a higher management crop."

Prior to producing lentils, Ferrier admits she can't remember eating one. Now, she incorporates lentils into a variety of meals.

“I’ve incorporated them into salads, I’ve made humus out of lentils, I’ve mixed them with ground beef to extend the life of the ground beef as a cheaper source of protein, I’ve made butter chicken with them, substituting the chicken with lentils," said Ferrier, "and the amount of things you can do with these little grains, I’m shocked."

As inflation continues to affect food prices, Ferrier said lentils are well rounded and a good way to bulk up a meal. She adds it is important for residents to continue to support the pulse industry during this time.

“If we don’t support it, it won’t be there. We need to support our local farmers and our local growers across Canada," said Ferrier. “It’s important to be cognizant of these growers who are working really hard to grow nutritious foods.”

To learn more about Lau tea da Lentils, check out their Facebook page.