Family Farming. An important backbone to our community.
What makes a family farm a success? A large part is the hard working families behind them. Meet Mike and Krista Edwards of Edwards Family Organics.
We, at Foodlink, are so fortunate to work with so many different farming families. Everyone has such an interesting story to share and it is my privilege to be able to share some of these stories. As someone who comes from a family farm, it is always so gratifying hearing about these other businesses that are succeeding. You learn something new by speaking to these families and there is always something to bring back to your own business.
I was fortunate enough to talk to Krista Edwards, of Edwards Family Organics, recently and learn a little more about their operation. Mike and Krista's farm is located just outside the picturesque town of Millbank. They took over the farm 15 years ago and since then have made some big changes to it.
1) Your farm wasn't originally organic. You are now certified by Eco Cert Canada. What made you go organic?
When we first took over Mike’s family farm 15 years ago, the animals and land were farmed conventionally. Once we had children, we wanted to feed our babies the best we could, so we changed to organic food at that time. The real deal breaker was when a crop sprayer came in and started spraying chemical in our fields. I ran indoors with the boys and shut all our windows. I didn’t want them breathing in the smells. I remember thinking this is crazy. This is really where our journey to organic started, wanting what is best for our three boys.
2) Your store specializes in organic beef, pork and chicken, which you raise. Do you offer individual cuts as well as bulk packages for your consumers?
We do specialize in organic pork, beef and chicken but we also sell lamb. Consumers are able to order small and large boxes of various cuts of pork, beef and chicken on our website. In our on farm meat store, consumers are able to by individual cuts. We also provide delivery within the K-W area. The delivery fee for the boxes is included in the price, otherwise orders must be over $100 for free delivery.
3) You and Mike have an on farm store. Is it open year round? Are consumers able to find your products at any other locations?
Edwards Family Organics is open year round. In the winter, (January – May) our hours are shortened to:
The rest of the year, (May-December) we are open:
Consumers are also able to buy our meats at the Wellesley Market and at The Sustainable Market.
4) Farming comes with many challenges and many rewards. Is there something that comes to mind (whether a reward or challenge), as a small family farm, that a consumer wouldn’t necessarily think of?
As a small family farm, we have encountered many challenges that the average consumer may not realize. An example of this is after we bought our home farm, which was all beef cows at the time, within 6 months, the BSE (Mad Cow disease) crisis happened. Issues like this and other changes such as weather and political policies that we can’t control has caused us to change our path and business plan from what we originally started with. We have learned to be more accommodating and always watch for a new opportunity to arise, even at the time when we think we can’t. We had to refocus and change what our future plan for our family farm was once BSE happened.
We can think of many rewards since starting our business. Likely our favourite is listening and talking to our customers. We have learned to accommodate many requests of different cuts that people enjoy. We also enjoy receiving compliments about our products and even having pictures emailed to us of dishes our consumers have made with our organic meat.
New Things that are happening here:
-we sell lamb in our store that we raise, we presently have 250 ewes.
-we are building a new chicken barn that will hold between 14,000-18,000 certified organic chickens.
- our store carries a variety of sauces/relishes/jams that complement our meat cuts.
-both Nannie and Nana have some of their crafts to buy in our store too.
So, when you have some free time, or want to go exploring this weekend, I would suggest you head to Edwards Family Organics and check out their farm and amazing products. While you are in Millbank, make sure you drop by another one of our Foodlink partners Anna Mae's Bakery & Restaurant. I would highly recommend the broasted chicken and a piece of one of their many homemade pies!