Sunday, December 10, 2023

Stopping to smell the pumpkins

The owner and operator of Matches Seeds, Michael Matischuk posing for the camera at his store on Allumettes Island.

It's all about the gratification and enjoying the simple pleasures of life,” said Michael Matischuk.
As the owner and operator of Matches Seeds, Matischuk knows a thing or two about gratification and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Having manifested a lifelong passion for horticulture into a grassroots seed store and home garden centre, Matischuk has made a name for himself amongst Ottawa Valley green thumbs.
Matischuk has always been interested in horticulture. As a child growing up in Winnipeg, he would spend hours helping tend to his grandparents’ gardens. Learning how to properly prune flowering shrubs, control weeds and to delineate between the various varieties of tomatoes, Matischuk’s passion for horticulture would grow each summer under the rays from the overhead sun.
With a passion for plants having been fostered within him through cumulative growing seasons, Matischuk moved to Ontario and enrolled himself within Humber College’s horticulture apprenticeship program. After graduating from the program, Matischuk worked as a horticulture technician at a small garden centre in Toronto. Here he worked for a decade, further refining his grasp on horticultural concepts and instilling within him a more intimate appreciation for plantlife.
Everything changed when the owner of the garden centre Matischuk was working at wanted to retire and sold the business. Not feeling the same connection with new ownership, Matischuk left the business and, needing a job to pay bloated Toronto rent fees, took a position at a credit union. Unsatisfied with the position and tired of working for someone else, Matischuk and his partner Gabriel Lortie traded in the bustling streets of Toronto for the tranquil forests of Allumettes Island.
“It’s quiet and it’s peaceful,” said Matischuk about Allumettes Island. “I think stress was the biggest reason why I left my corporate job. Things have come full circle and I’m trying to get back into the stuff that I love.”
Finding peace and a place to call home on Allumettes Island, Matischuk didn’t wait long before rekindling the horticulture passion he has had since childhood. Soon after arriving on Allumette Island, Matischuk - with the indispensable help of Lortie - opened Matches Seeds. A small garden centre built by Matischuk and Lortie from the ground up, Matches Seeds specializes in the sale of its namesake. Selling 68 varieties of vegetable and flower seeds, the business has become a staple supplier for gardeners throughout the Ottawa Valley.
Starting off small, Matischuk grew name recognition for his businesses through weekly attendance at the Chapeau Farmers Market. With growing interest in his seed varieties, Matischuk expanded his product catalogue to include things like gardening tools, hydroponic equipment and fertilizers.
Meeting fellow gardening enthusiasts, Matches Seeds came to be known not only for the quality of its products, but for the horticulture expertise of Matischuk himself. A lifelong gardener with a mix of practical and technical horticulture proficiency, Matischuks’ name soon became synonymous with approachable gardening guidance. Gardeners from throughout the Ottawa Valley have come to appreciate his horticultural knowledge and the affable manner in which he offers it.
“Just having my background in horticulture, this is the stuff that I know and love,” said Matischuk. “People have been super receptive so far and seem happy to have a local seed company.”
Aside from Matischuk’s high quality products and professional horticulture background, it is his unique packaging that sets him apart. For those who are unaware, when translated into English, L’Isle-aux-Allumettes reads Matches Island. Thought to have been given the name by Voyagers after a travelling Jesuit left a box of matches on the island, the name has stuck to this day.
In a clever innuendo involving the island’s name, Matches Seeds parcels their products into packages made to look like old-fashioned matchbooks. More than just an artful double entendre, Matischuk attests to the package’s utility.
“Our clients say they really like the packages because it’s easy to put in your pocket and go into the garden,” said Matischuk.
A self confessed gardening fanatic, Matches Seeds is Matischuk’s passion project. Cultivating a career from a passion he has had since childhood, Matischuk knows all too well the importance of hard work and devotion if one is to achieve their goals. Through it all, he has retained his zeal for horticulture.
“I’d say we’re pretty hardcore,” said Matischuk with a smile. “We’ve got gardens in the front and in the back of the property and sometimes, we overdo it. You find what you love to do and stick with it.”


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