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The Fish Lake Garlic Man

Ontario lost an icon of the garlic world late last year, with the passing of Ted Maczka - the Fish Lake Garlic Man. Grower, researcher and evangelist, Ted devoted ~40 years of his life to his passion for garlic. Readily identifiable by his quirky garlic-topped baseball cap and car, Ted travelled across the province peddling garlic, sharing growing advice, and teaching about its many benefits. In addition to many farm and garlic festivals, he was a regular at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair where he established the garlic competition and donated a grant of prize money in the hope that the competition would outlast his lifetime.

Born in Poland, Ted came to Canada in 1952 and set up a small European food imports business. Although he always kept a garden, it wasn’t until the early 1970s when he bought a small farm property near Fish Lake in Prince Edward County that his passion for garlic took root. Inspired by a news article about Canada importing millions of dollars worth of garlic from China, Ted decided that he wanted to make Canada self-sufficient in garlic production.

When he started growing garlic, Ted was truly a pioneer. His “garlic gospel” was initially received with some scepticism, but his passion and tenacity helped build a movement in Canada. Ted became well-known to many garlic growers across the country, sending out his Fish Lake brand of garlic varieties by mail order, and mentoring many in the art of garlic production. He collected and grew dozens of garlic varieties and produced from both clove and bulbil, calling his farm his “Garlic Research and Experimental Station.”

Although garlic was certainly his passion, Ted believed strongly in the broader possibility of creating a much more self-sustaining agricultural system in Ontario. He worked to build that reality and had a big impact on many new & established farmers.

In a memorial note, Paul Posposil, editor of The Garlic News, wrote “As garlic growers, we should all be thankful for Ted Maczka, the Fish Lake Garlic Man. By personal dedication and unceasing effort, he, more than anyone else, helped to create a thriving garlic growing industry in Canada.”

Ted will be remembered not only for his contribution to the Canadian garlic growing movement, but more generally for his inspiring determination and optimism. "I see people trying not to laugh until they pass," Maczka told the Muskoka Region news in 2007. "I don't mind if people laugh, that means they're happy. If you're happy, you're healthy."

Seeds of Diversity carries numerous varieties of Fish Lake garlic from Ted, who has been a regular contributor to our Canadian Garlic Collection. In particular, we appreciate his contribution of the unique, big-cloved, Eastern-Ontario-adapted Porcelain strain which he simply called F3 but which is known to others as Fish Lake 3.

If you’d like to read more about the incredible Fish Lake Garlic Man, simply google his name; there are thousands of newspaper and magazine articles published about him!

Photo credit: MuskokaRegion.com

 

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