NORTH AUGUSTA - Young farmers Nikki and Stuart Oke are proudly making their farm ownership dream a reality.

With formal education in ecologically sustainable systems, along with hands-on experience on farms across Ontario, the couple has now put down their own roots - literally and figuratively - on Branch Road in Augusta Township.

And they're landing here with experience, having already built their business - Rooted Oak Farm -successfully on land they were renting in Quebec. They may be young, but they are experienced in growing sustainable, delicious produce using a combination of modern and efficient technology as well as traditional farm philosophy.

"We've envisioned this for a long time," says Stuart of the move to this area. "We're really excited about the area and being here."

They're planting their crops for the first time here this season, but they already have a solid customer base with 100 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) customers from the Ottawa Valley region. They've developed their brand, successfully growing more than 40 types of vegetables for the past five years along with a newer weekly cut flower delivery business.

"We met each other working on another farm and we bonded over food," says Stuart, who is also Youth President for the National Farmers Union. They wanted to be closer to family in the Wolfe Island and Kingston area so, North Augusta seemed like a perfect choice for relocation.

"We take a lot of pride in growing quality food for people. We also have a goal of building stronger local food systems," he says.

He's aware that young farmers are a bit of an anomaly these days. The average age of a Canadian farmer is 55-60 years of age and data shows 80% don't have succession planning in place.

"The barriers of starting (a new vegetable farming operation) have never been so large," he says. "But we value this work and helping young farmers across the country. We also believe in strong community support."

Nikki and Stuart are off to a good start with two new greenhouses being built on their property.

They offer a diverse range of vegetables and fruit and also provide their customers with the option of customizing their food baskets online. That way you are getting the produce you want. They're growing seedlings for sale and and will continue their cut flower business.

Learn more about Rooted Oak Farm, Nikki and Stuart's vision on their website. Visit their Facebook and Instagram pages for regular updates on their products and distribution, or send them an email.