Meet a Canadian Ginseng Farmer: Marc Noorenberghe

Farmer Name: Marc Noorenberghe
Farm Name: Marc and Alyssa Noorenberghe
Farm Location: Delhi, Ontario

How long have you been farming?

I was born and raised on the farm, and have been farming my whole life. My wife and I started growing ginseng in 2015. Before that, I was actively farming with my family.

Approximately how many acres are under your care?

We have a little over 13 acres of ginseng that we grow ourselves. We also manage a few hundred acres of a variety of different grains and tobacco with my family.

Is this a family farm? What generation?

Yes, this is a family farm, I’m a 4th generation farmer and the third generation on this exact piece of land. I’m proud to continue growing and managing crops.

Why did you choose to farm?

I chose to continue to farm when I met my wife and we got together. We were both born and raised on a farm. We knew that’s what we wanted to come back to, where we wanted to raise a family, and grow together.

Why did you choose to grow ginseng?

I chose to grow ginseng because I like a challenge, and it’s definitely a very challenging crop to grow. High risk, hopefully high reward, and something new to learn. It’s a fascinating crop that I love learning more about every day.

What unique challenges do ginseng farmers face?

Ginseng is a very unique crop. Weather-specific challenges are big with ginseng. It doesn’t like excess rain, doesn’t like to be too wet, and if it’s too dry, it takes a lot of irrigating. Ginseng is an open market. It’s a very unique challenge, marketing your root and taking your crop from a seed in the ground all the way to six years later as a marketable product.

Do you or your family members consume ginseng?

Yes, we use ginseng through a variety of different products, typically energy drinks or tea.

Are your family members part of your farming operation?

I’m very lucky to have both my parents and my wife’s family actively involved in our ginseng operation. As well as the other crops we grow together too.

How are you incorporating sustainability practices into your farm?

When farming ginseng it’s very important to have high-quality land and good-quality farming practices. Good agricultural practices are very important for managing our property and soil. We’ve implemented everything from tree lines for wind erosion, cover crops for soil erosion, different cover crops for water retention and soil management, anything to be more sustainable and we are always working to be more self-sufficient.

Tell us a bit about your workers.

The employees on our farm are predominantly offshore workers during the growing season, from Jamaica and Mexico. And in the off-season it’s predominantly locals.

What do you hope to see as the future of ginseng farming in Ontario?

I look forward to the future of ginseng in Ontario. I’m very proud to be a part of the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association. I think it’s very important that we continue to educate locals, not just in Ontario, across the country, on what ginseng is and what benefits it can provide. Ontario produces a very valuable, high-quality ginseng. There’s a lot of uses for ginseng in Canada, a lot of room for those markets to continue to expand, and a lot of information that could be learned about the crop and the root, specifically.

What do you enjoy most about being a ginseng farmer?

The thing I enjoy most about growing ginseng is the challenges it brings. I love working in the great outdoors, fresh air, learning new things, facing new challenges and finding ways to tackle the challenges. And most of all, I’m at home with my family.