When somebody asks Darryl Carver what he does for a living, his first inclination is to respond, “I’m a farmer.” That’s not quite true…yet. But he is inching closer and closer to making it a reality. Carver, 42, along with his wife, Shauna, and three sons Gavin, 13, Gibson, 8, and Hudson, 7, work together at Carver’s Natural Farms in Petrolia. “We have different entities on the farm such as chickens, turkeys, and pigs and we’re hoping to get into cattle at some point,” Darryl says. “We also grow garlic.”
Darryl and Shauna have always understood the value of a hard day’s work and wanted to instill that in their boys from a young age. Before the Carvers could be found working their 40-acre farm in Petrolia, Darryl worked in sheet metal, before returning to school to become a process operator. Darryl and Shauna had always dreamt about moving to the country to raise their boys and in 2018 they made their dream a reality. “We just wanted a nice piece of property,” Darryl says. “Our whole idea at the time was to start growing garlic." The family began growing garlic the first year and then the next year, after speaking with some people and watching YouTube videos, they decided to grow chickens for their family. "Everything took off from there.”
The first year the family got into chickens they raised about 100 birds, mostly for their own consumption. “Then we started selling to family and friends. After that we saw there was a market for it, so Shauna and I decided to grow more and joined the Artisanal Chicken Program which is the Chicken Farmers of Ontario." The Carvers are now licensed to raise a certain amount of birds per year, and they can now sell to restaurants, grocery stores, and farmers' markets. After chickens, the Carver’s began raising organic free-range turkeys and heritage breeds of pork, including Berkshire and Berkshire Cross. Their garlic operation has expanded as well, with this past season having them plant nine different varieties, in search of the perfect garlic bulb.
A typical day on the farm begins at 4:30 a.m. to ensure chores are completed before Darryl heads into this full-time job. In the evening the Carvers work as a family to do chores and odd jobs around the farm. “We want to raise our animals and give them the best life they can have – outside where they get plenty of sunshine and they can have their natural instincts and do what they like,” Darryl says. “A lot of people thank us for giving the animals such a good life.” Darryl and Shauna love the farm life and hope eventually that Darryl can retire early and they can farm as a family full-time. “That is the dream and it would be awesome.”