Just north of St. John’s Side Road at the second driveway on the left is the entrance to 16128 Ninth Line. A winding drive leads back past a barn to a house that serves the dual purpose as the Stem family residence and the headquarters of DynamicGreens Wheatgrass.
Tom Stem leads the way into their sunroom, which affords great views of the 38-acre farm and has absorbed the sun’s rays to an exceedingly warm 26° C. Tom opens the window to allow a -10° C. breeze to flow through the room.
Tom is a young looking 77. I abandon pre-developed interview questions as he starts to tell his story – his story is better. Tom is a remarkably good speaker and has the depth of knowledge of a person that spent a lifetime seeking answers. While we are talking, a local lady rings the doorbell and announces that she has come for her fix, but “my husband needs it worse”. Tom says that she is purchasing 300 ozs of juice.
The Stem’s built their house on this land in 1967. He was driving downtown for work, “but in those days, there were only two stoplights between here and there.” He worked as a financial advisor for a member of the Toronto Stock Exchange until 1993.
Tom and Janice raised four kids on the farm. In 1972, Janice found a lump and proceeded with a thermography test which clearly showed a developed hot area. Cancer had brutally taken Tom’s aunt and medicine didn’t have an answer if this was cancer. He uttered a prayer for help and guidance. In response, he got a visit from neighbour and friend Roy Clark. Roy had a book to lend him. The book said that body malfunction is nutritional. The book said that the best nutrition is found in green growing grass.
Tom started to grow wheat-grass for Janice. Her problem disappeared over the course of a year. She never received chemotherapy, radiation or an operation, and “that was 43 years ago,” says Tom. I ponder this “cure” out loud, and Tom corrects me – he never used that word, “this is amazing food, your body figures the rest out.” I check my notes – he’s right, he didn’t say cure.
He continued to grow wheatgrass for Janice, but she started to develop an allergy to it. Tom later realized that wheatgrass grown indoors or in a greenhouse naturally develops mold, which can create unintended effects, and a bad aftertaste as well. Once he moved to exclusive outdoor production, Janice’s allergy went away.
Word about the Stem’s wheatgrass spread by mouth. More and more neighbours were stopping by to request some of the stuff. It got to the point that Tom was giving away more than they were consuming. Making wheatgrass is labour intensive and Tom needed better tools. Rather than dipping into their savings, he decided to start selling product to support production. “And you know what happened,” said Tom “those same neighbours came by more often – now they didn’t feel like they were imposing.”
Tom explains that wheatgrass nutrition is powerful and totally complete. He rhymes off the names of many large animals like bison and horses that can subsist solely on grasses and live a healthy life.
Every process in the body, he says, is involved in conversion – turning the materials we consume into things like new cells, bone and hair. If our bodies do not receive the right ingredients, complex substitutions take place, but these consume energy and divert resources. According to Tom, nutrition from grass can help our bodies focus on simple conversions.
Tom argues that most ailments and sickness are the collateral damage of mineral deficiencies. “Our bodies need 90 elements in our diet, no one is focused on this. Instead we treat the side effects of deficiency with medicine, therapies and surgery.”
They farm more than 500 acres across Whitchurch-Stouffville. Tom admits that when they are working the field by Stouffville Road and Highway 48 – they stop in for fast food at lunch. “I’m not a kook you know, but I keep an awareness of our body’s engine’s needs.” He also admits that he didn’t start drinking the stuff personally until the early 1990’s when an unexpected prostate growth was found during his annual pilot’s license physical – “then I began to drink a lot of it,” he says.
We were with Tom for 2.5 hours. The time passed quickly. He didn’t once look like time was short, even though the giant pot on the stove that had been simmering all afternoon smelled like delicious Italian fare. Rather, his passion had taken hold. I imagine that he spends most afternoons this way – listening to people’s stories and telling his own, amassing information and doing more research.
Tom won’t allow for his sales volumes to be published, but needless to say – they are busy, as word of mouth has led to 60% of their total sales being in the United States. DynamicGreens Wheatgrass products are for sale through their website and are available at a discounted rate for farm pick-up Wednesday and Saturday. You will not find their product available in stores or at juice bars, because resale requires pasteurization, which would deplete most of the nutritional benefit, says Tom.
Tom makes us each a tall glass of the stuff. It takes a two minute stir to thaw 5 frozen cubes (2.5 ounces) with water. Not too bad really. At first glance at pricing, consuming the product regularly looks like an investment. I do some quick math to figure that it would be comparable in price to drinking an additional coffee chain latte every day. “We have to scrutinize a kitchen budget. Food costs are soaring, but bad health can lead to cruel poverty,” concludes Tom. For more information, see www.dynamicgreens.com.