Two weekends ago, at Eco Farm Days in Cornwall, Ontario; I learned that Paul Pospisil, Canada’s Garlic Guru, had passed away.
Paul Pospisil was my first garlic mentor.
I met Paul in 2001, just a few weeks after my very first garlic harvest.
I was working at Switch Farms in Campbellville, Ontario. I had never seed garlic growing until that year. I can still remember that first taste of the juiciest most delicious garlic I had ever eaten. I immediately fell in love with this crop.
When my buddy Guillaume Venne called up and invited me to a nearby garlic festival. My answer was a resounding YES!
I did not know what you did at a garlic festival but I could imagine that I wasn’t the only person who had been so easily and thoroughly seduced by this pungent vegetable. I wanted to meet the people who would come together to celebrate garlic. And I wanted to know more about this crop.
At the festival, I spoke to all the vendors and went to all the talks. And I met Paul Pospisil.
Paul stood behind a table covered with pamphlets and garlic. He told me about the 10 types of garlic and how garlic scapes turned into bulbils if you left them on the plant. He gave me planting advice and told me how Canadian garlic was the best garlic in the world!
I left the festival with my pockets full of garlic and all the back issues of Paul’s garlic newsletter.
We would repeat this cycle for many years.
I would plant garlic in the fall, take care of it through the year and harvest at the end of July. Then I would go to the nearest garlic festival to find Paul and barrage him with my latest questions.
“Should I plant the small cloves too?”
“What is eating my garlic scapes?”
“How do you braid hardneck garlic?”
And Paul would answer each and every question. And my garlic crop got bigger and bigger. It got so big, I needed to start a farm with my friends so that I could justify growing this much garlic!
In 2007, I contacted Paul to find out how exactly one goes about starting a garlic festival. And if there was one thing Paul was more passionate about than garlic, it was garlic festivals!
And that lead to the The Ste-Anne-De-Bellevue Garlic Festival.
I will no longer be running into Paul at garlic festivals and farming events. But this August, I will be channelling Paul’s garlic enthusiasm as I sit in the workshop tent and answer hundreds of questions about garlic.
I know that my story is not alone. Paul Pospisil, the Garlic Guru, created a community of garlic growers and lovers. I am grateful for all his work.