Homestead Organics of Berwick is moving to Morrisburg.
Homestead Organics took over ownership of the former Chinook building along Allison Avenue in Morrisburg, Friday, December 6.
The new site for the Berwick organic processing operation, is the focus of a $2.4 million project that will eventually see all of Homestead’s operations moved from the former feed mill site in Berwick to this Morrisburg location.
The 27,000 square foot building, is more than triple the size of the Berwick operation, which has only 8,000 square feet of space, including trailers and a tent.
“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t stay in Berwick,” said president Tom Manley who did point out that the company will be staying in SDG and that all of the company’s 14 employees will eventually make the move with them to the Morrisburg site.
The two part move will be phased in over time.
This week, Homestead already started to make use of the building’s warehousing space.
The bulk of the first phase will involve moving the soybean cleaning operations of the business.
The cost of moving that part of the business is about $900,000 including the purchase of the building and the necessary site upgrades.
The cost of phase one is being covered by about 30 private investors.
By March, that part of the project should be operating from the Morrisburg site, with about two employees.
Manley says that Homestead will be a two site operation, over the next couple of years, but eventually they plan to move all of their 12 staff, processing and administration to Morrisburg, and maybe even add a retail area.
Manley is extremely pleased with this new location, which offers ample warehousing and processing space for Homestead, but also has enough extra room to offer leasing to other small organic processors. Manley has a vision of the site becoming “organics central”.
“Morrisburg could be a hub of organic food activity in the near future,” he said.
For three years, Manley has been in search of an appropriate new location for Homestead Organics, which is growing incrementally, year after year.
Just 16 years ago, Homestead was processing about 500 tonnes annually, and now, in their 25th year, they annually process over 7,000 tonnes of organic whole grains.
“Organic is becoming very mainstream, just walk down the aisles of your grocery store and you will see it,” said Manley, estimating that the organics sector is growing at a rate of 10-15 per cent annually.
During the search for an appropriate facility to house their growing business, Manley looked at a number of options including large facilities in Chesterville, Long Sault, and two buildings in Morrisburg before purchasing this Allison Avenue facility.
“We had a number of false starts over the years,” said Manley, adding that capital is often difficult for a business to access.
Homestead Organics was founded by Tom Manley’s father Murray. Tom, the current president, returned to the family business 16 years ago. Three years ago, Tom’s son Yannik, joined them.
All three were at the press conference hosted at the new facility last week. Joining them were project supporters, local dignitaries and media.
“We are very pleased that you found the right fit for your business here in Morrisburg and we are happy to have a new business in our municipality,” said Chuck Barkley, president of the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce.
“I will be glad to see this facility up and running,” said South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds, adding that this new venture for this community fits nicely with the community’s backbone, which is its agricultural base.