By Angelica Ingram
Published Aug. 1 2016
Xavier Dulong wakes up in the morning grabs his bike and makes the one kilometre trip from his home on Highway 118 to a property across from Maple Lake on St. Peter’s Road.
Once he arrives he gets to work.
Xavier heads over to the back of the property where two large gardens exist the further one filled with row upon row of potato plants.
The potatoes are his pride and joy with hours of sweat patience attention and effort poured into them.
They are the fruits of his labour almost literally and the source of his summer income as he begins to start selling the vegetables at all three local farmers’ markets this week.
With his enthusiasm spunk and determination Xavier is ahead of most 12-year-olds in the job market.
Yes Xavier is 12 years old.
A go-getter since the age of eight he launched his first business Xavier’s Odd Jobs with a business card and a slogan.
“No job’s too big too small” he says referencing his first attempt at making money. “Not a lot of people wanted to hire an eight-year-old.”
Now Xavier has another summer job that keeps him busy and out in the sun; farming.
It began at the start of last summer when family friend Gary Trapp was looking for some assistance maintaining his expansive gardens.
A student at JDH Elementary School Xavier was looking for summer employment and thus the partnership began.
His tasks include ordering the seeds planting watering picking off beetles pulling up the plants and preparing them for selling.
“I like it” he says.
“He pored over that seed catalogue” said Phil Dulong Xavier’s dad.
T his summer Xavier helped plant almost 500 potato plants with each plant producing many baby red potatoes.
He sold the potatoes last summer at Country Bakery on Highway 118. This summer starting last week Xavier has been selling the potatoes at the Carnarvon Haliburton and Minden markets under the tent belonging to Richard Taylor of The Nest Egg farm.
He has spent the last few weeks of the summer at the market with other vendors learning how to sell produce interact with customers and market his potatoes.
“The market’s fun I enjoy it” says Xavier. “Richard has been giving me pointers.”
In preparation for his debut he made his own sign advertising Xavier’s Best: #1 Local Organic Vegetables.
The potatoes are all natural with no pesticides or herbicides used. Just water from Maple Lake and manure from a nearby Alpaca farm. He harvests them as they become ready with just one plant at a time.
This year the potatoes were planted a little later than usual during the first week of June to avoid frost.
Born and raised in Haliburton Xavier is going into Grade 8 this fall and may have to miss a few days of school to finish off his season at the market.
He doesn’t seem to mind.
The lessons he’s learning from gardening and from the market are life lessons cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit in the young lad.
However he has no intentions of being a full-time farmer when he grows up.
“No probably not” he says when asked if that’s his career aspiration. “Hopefully I’ll have a garden.”
Trapp says Xavier has been a very dedicated worker and has helped him out tremendously especially with the planting process.
“It’s great working with Xavier” said Trapp. “He is a bright ambitious young guy. He has a great sense of humour and is fun to work with. We plant the veggies and often work together in the garden after planting but sometimes cover each other off individually when one of us has other commitments and there is watering or weeding to do.”
Trapp goes on to explain that gardening provides many life lessons including the experience of delayed gratification.
“Xavier has been learning to work hard now and get paid later if the crop is successful” said Trapp.
On average Xavier spends a few hours at the garden every week. He gets paid based on what he sells.
He hopes to continue working in the garden over the coming years with his eyes on driving the tractor which he is just learning.
When asked if he’s enjoyed a potato yet this year Xavier’s response is surprising.
“I haven’t had any. They’ve been too small” he says.
However he is really looking forward to them.
“A red potato I like when it’s just been cooked in tinfoil with a bit of butter and the skin on.”