« I am very aware that, geographically, 80 per cent of the riding is agricultural, » said Riden, during an interview at The Grand Barn, his family farm in East Hawkesbury Township. « I want to be able to speak to and for the farmers. »
Riden, 40, has lived in the Prescott County area almost all of his life. His family moved to the area when he was six and he attended high school at Vankleek Collegiate Institute. After graduation he went to Ottawa to attend Carleton University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in law and a bachelor’s degree in integrated science, with a focus on genetics.
His main interest is in agriculture but he thinks have at least a paralegal-equivalent expertise in law is a benefit. He works at the Harmony Gardens market garden in Dalkeith and is in the process of transforming the family farm into a large-scale community garden site open to any community groups, school classes, or individuals who want to set up a community garden project.
« It was never a dream of mine to get into politics, » he said, regarding his decision to become the Green Party candidate for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell in the June 2 provincial election.
His community garden project at The Grand Barn became the first step towards his Green Party candidacy. He began that project two years ago soon after the pandemic began. Riden began following reports about how the pandemic was interfering with supply chains for some products and he thought that turning some of his unused farmland over to other groups to start community gardens would be a good way to help some local families deal with their food needs.
The local food bank was one of the first to take Riden up on his offer of community garden space. There are now six garden plots tended by food bank volunteers to grow fresh produce for later distribution at harvest time to food bank clients. Several other groups and individuals have adopted garden plots at The Grand Barn, for a total of 20 small community gardens.
After getting the community garden project started, Riden became involved with EcoEast, the regional non-profit group dedicated to fostering awareness of climate change and lobbying local municipalities and regional governments to create and enforce their own action plans to address potential climate change issues in Eastern Ontario.
During one meeting of EcoEast there was discussion about the upcoming provincial election and the lack of a local candidate for the Green Party. During his own research Riden noted that the Green Party’s campaign platform covered other issues beside the environment and applied to become the party’s GPR candidate.
« I want to go door to door now, » Riden said, adding that he wants to explain to local voters how the Green Party would address issues like health care services support, making mental health services eligible for coverage under the provincial health insurance program, and promoting support for more public transit and affordable housing.
More information on Riden and the Green Party is at: