A mainstay at the Collingwood Farmers’ Market and found in retailers around the region, the journey to build Pure Music Garlic has humble roots ... or, rather, bulbs.
In 2006, Paul and Lorraine Irwin were on the hunt for a farm to call their own, and spent two months driving tens of thousands of kilometres for a place to call home.
They finally found what they were looking for and moved into their new home in Grey County. There was a large boulder situated on the property, which reminded Paul of a historic lookout in Scotland called Boars Rock that used to serve as a rallying point for a family clan. The rock became the rallying point for the Irwin family and their farming future.
They started a large vegetable farm and raised chickens. Paul was an airline pilot and Lorraine worked full-time at a long-term care facility in Thornbury. Their kids enjoyed growing their own vegetables and helping the tenant farmer with his barn chores and cattle.
About 10 years ago, Paul saw some garlic for sale and decided to give it a try. Called “music” garlic, it is a garlic variety that produces large bulbs, with robust, spicy flavour and large, pink-purple cloves. Once an Italian variety, music has become one of the top garlic varieties grown in Canada.
Five bulbs turned into 35 plants and the following year, they harvested their first garlic bulbs from the ground.
Before they knew it, they had 35,000 bulbs. They booked holidays from their off-farm jobs during harvest season and relied on their children and neighbours for help.
“It was a lot,” Lorraine said. “We did everything by hand at the start.”
Eventually, Paul looked into a garlic planter. When they hit 50,000 bulbs a year later, they officially received their organic certification.
However, in 2019, mother nature was not so kind to the Irwin family, and disaster struck their crop that season. They managed to salvage a small amount of garlic that was deemed suitable for consumption but not for sale, so Lorraine decided to try her hand at turning the garlic into powder.
“Before we knew it, people were going insane for it,” said Lorraine.
She would get asked over and over again what was added to the garlic powder that made it so delicious and her reply was always, “nothing but pure music.”
After saying it enough, Pure Music Garlic became the official name for Lorraine's line of garlic products.
Lorraine created the line of products using garlic from the farm, processed and packaged in their commercial kitchen and sold at their farm store. After discovering that she was intolerant to sodium and preservatives, she became determined to find other ways to make her meals still taste delicious, without using additives or preservatives. She expanded into seasoning packages, with garlic butter, ranch seasoning and her signature garlic chips being crowd favourites.
There is no salt in any of her products.
“I am pretty proud of what I have accomplished and the flavouring I have kept, because it’s all-natural,” she said. “As nature intended.”
Growing the garlic in a regenerative and sustainable manner as well as being certified organic is their number one priority. We know that people want to know where their food comes from, because we are the same.
Pure Music Garlic products can be found in shops throughout Grey and Simcoe County or purchased online.
Recently, Lorraine also dove into the niche market of black garlic. The fermented garlic is known for its savoury sweet umami taste.
“It is complex and rich, something that is definitely different, and certainly worth a try,” said Lorraine.
To date, Pure Music Garlic is the only known seller of certified organic black garlic in the province. They can be found at the Farmers’ Market in Collingwood on Saturdays, as well as garlic festivals throughout the province.