Kristen Gingera, Corey Wilson, and family make bold dive into Townships’ farm life
The door was open as I approached Kristen Gingera and Corey Wilson’s house for an early evening interview last week. I could hear Kristen instructing her daughter, Scout, to take an egg carton and go gather late-afternoon eggs. Ten-year- old Scout and I crossed paths in the mudroom as she put on her boots, and I took off mine.
“How many laying hens do you have?” I asked.
“About 50,” Scout answered.
“Ah, so about three dozen eggs a day?”
“No, about four,” she corrected before skipping off, not missing a beat. The kitchen was a buzz of activity, Kristen greeting me, followed by Corey who was cutting potatoes. Friends continued the supper prep while Corey and Kristen took precious time out for our interview.
“In the beginning, it was survival mode,” Kristen said as they told their family story of picking up roots and moving to a 25-acre farm near Fulford in 2015. “The priority was spending as much time together as possible.”
Crisis had struck early. Six months after moving, their son, Hunter, a toddler at the time, was diagnosed with cancer. Kristen took a year off teaching—and has never returned since.
“That was the kick in the pants to get the farm going,” she said.
After years of treatments, Hunter, 8, is now cancer free, though affected by a rare auto-immune disease related to his diagnosis.
His little sister, Mackenzie, joined the family four and a half years ago. The three kids, plus young friends, and a gentle yellow lab kept the house humming as their parents and I chatted at the kitchen table.
Neither Kristen nor Corey had any direct or indirect farming experience when they moved. Even then, their dreams were inspired by their kids.
When their eldest, Scout, began eating solid food as a baby, Kristen wanted to make sure it was the healthiest possible. She knew that meant growing and raising some of their own. But Greenfield Park, on Montreal’s South Shore, didn’t allow backyard chickens in those days, so Kristen was ready to mount a lobbying campaign to change the municipal policy.
Corey suggested they move instead. And Corey’s parents proposed bi- generational living: that they all buy a small farm together in the Eastern Townships.
At first, Kristen and Corey continued working in the Montreal area, commuting each day for teaching and electrical contract jobs.
While exploring their new property one day in 2015 and admiring the creek flowing through the back, they were surprised to turn and find their kids stripped naked and heading for the water. Kristen snapped a photo of them bare bummed on their way in.
The name Cheeky Creek Farm was thus baptized.
Now raising their own pork, chicken, eggs, milk cows, sheep, ducks, and garlic, they’ve gone a long way to ensuring the healthiness they wanted for their children’s food, which they also sell to families, restaurants, and butcher shops.
And their farm sales have reached the point that they pay the mortgage, “plus a little,” Kristen said.
Their main product is pork. From the 10 to 12 Berkshire sows and 2 boars they keep (recommended by their farm mentor, Elwood Quinn, of Quinn Farm on Île-Perrot), they finished 115 pigs last year.
“During Covid, we were slammed!” Kristen said of the sudden surge in demand they enjoyed.
But still happy with his off-farm work, Corey also just started his own electrical contracting business, CC Électrique Inc., which is the other major part of the family income.
Neither expressed the least regret for their old life.
“We’ll never go back!” Kristen said.
“I can’t imagine it,” Corey added. “We haven’t turned the TV on in six months.”
“Our life isn’t scheduled anymore,” Kristen said, “but it’s a rhythm.”
The enthusiasm and joy for it all was bursting from everything they said in our short interview, just as projects were bursting out of their farmyard, eager for attention.
“It’s the gratitude,” Corey said.
“It’s that intimate connection of knowing what you’re eating,” Kristen added.
The gratitude was also heaped on Corey’s parents, Anne and Curt Wilson: “They’ve been a godsend, our life saviours,” Kristen said, with Corey adding like words.
Supper was probably overdue as our interview wound down. Perhaps on cue, Hunter showed up to change the pace, asking if his parents had shown me his painting, a watercolour full of sea creatures and animals, of bright blue water and gentle flow—of so much rhythm inherent in bringing one’s dreams from the imagination to paper to life.
Scott Stevenson farms and writes at his home in Newport, Quebec.