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The ‘Magnificent’ Zero Mile Diet

The ‘Magnificent’ Zero Mile Diet

I met Lea Kitler and Diane ‘Dee’ Doiron on the recent Olivia trip 40th anniversary cruise to the Caribbean. They told me about their wonderful farm “Magnificent Hill” in Highland Grove, Ontario. On the ‘Hill’, these women not only grow their own organic fruits and vegetables, but also raise goats, pigs, and chickens, make soap, pies and preserves, keep bees and tap maple trees…heck, they even create custom handcrafted signs using local pine! They met online six years ago and developed an instant connection. Lea was already on the Hill for five years, and Dee joined her with enthusiasm and a desire to partner in this amazing journey of self-sufficiency and sustainability.

MAGHILLI wondered, what on earth can’t these women do? So I went to their farm’s website and discovered a great story about their ‘Zero-Mile Diet Adventure’—a fascinating study on how they are putting into practice what exploring the limits of sustainability really means.

Dee writes: Since the beginning of our journey into what we hope will be a self-sustainable lifestyle, our goal has been to be independent of the local grocery store for our daily food needs. This fall we made the decision to make the leap to a Zero-Mile Diet next summer. For six months, starting with planting season in May, we will consume only what has been grown or raised on the Hill.

For most, this would be a scary leap into the unknown, but lately when we’ve been sitting down for our meals, the plates in front of us are filled with our own products — a very satisfying sight, I can assure you. The only thing we can’t provide is the bulk of our dairy needs, mostly butter, cheese and some milk. We have some dairy from our goats, but we are looking into purchasing a cow over the winter to help with those last few things we need in our diets.

But we knew we couldn’t just jump headfirst into this, so my partner, Lea, spent a month on a test run of the Zero-Mile Diet to see if it could be done. I did not participate and can attest that she was frustrated a few times but in the end she felt great, had lots of energy and looked wonderful. Here is her journal entry about the process:

“It really shouldn’t be a difficult goal to accomplish, I thought to myself as I poured a cup of our own homegrown herbal tea. The time goes so fast; it felt like it was just yesterday that we were planning our tea gardens, and not long after that, drying the herbs in the greenhouse. I continued to ponder the possibilities of only eating what we grow. My grandparents would be proud of my attempt — or would they? After all, this is all they knew — getting up in the morning to tend to the animals and then spending the day tending to the chores of feeding themselves by planting, harvesting and preserving goods for the days to follow.

What changed so drastically from their generation to mine, that made me become so dependent on my local grocery store? When did I not have a choice to make anymore?
We have been growing our own food for five years and it was time to put our goal to the test. I would eat only products from the Hill for 30 days. I knew I’d have some addictions to overcome. We don’t grow grain yet, so I would not have any bread for the month (but we will be planting an acre in the spring). No more coffee, and very few options from the dairy department. As my mind continued to walk down the aisles of the local grocery store, I tallied up the products that we do produce on the farm — and I gained confidence. We grow our own grapes and have bottled our own wine (yes, I noticed that I put that first on the list). We have our own pork, chicken and goat meat in the freezer. More than 30 varieties of our fruits and vegetables have been dried, canned, stewed and frozen. So how hard could it be?

Over the first 10 days, I overcome my old addictions to certain foods and eating habits in order to make room for my new ones. Nearing the end, my diet becomes 100 % local and chemical free, high in protein and very low in carbohydrates. I eat two main meals instead of three. I have no sugar in my diet outside of honey and maple syrup, both of which we produce here. As the 30th day approaches, my energy level is at a new high and the quality of food I am consuming is so satisfying, not only in flavour, but in the realization of the power of choice in what I am eating.”

Find out more about the farm at  Twitter @maghill    On Facebook

Lea Kitler had been self employed for over 30 years and is a licensed Sales Representative with the Ontario Real Estate Association since 1995 and is available to assist you with your next investment. If you are buying or selling a home, cottage or commercial property, in the Bancroft and Haliburton area call Lea direct at 705.448.9453 or email:

Diane Doiron is a professional photojournalist from New Brunswick, Canada. Growing up in the Atlantic shores, her love of nature and wildlife has brought her to respect and honor her surroundings and of course to enjoy them. Both passions have been joined to create visually stunning photos of the sights and sounds of what she sees on her adventures in the wilderness. Diane’s photos have been premiered in the National Post, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Fredericton Daily Gleaner. And has won numerous awards as a photojournalist.

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One comment

  • Silvia says:

    What an amazing story. I really enjoyed reading it and I’m glad for their success. It’s difficult to duplicate in San Francisco though.