Fresh out of the garden and fresh off the farm, Sheldanna Farm will be sharing freshly-made goods at several local farmer’s markets this spring and summer.
Ann-marie and Sheldon Hollister of Ingleside started their farm as a hobby several years ago. It wasn’t until recently that they decided to make this a full-time ‘job.’ In fact, running the farm is a family affair with the couple’s three children helping out as well.
The 22 acre property includes five acres of gardens with sheds and pasture for an assortment of wildlife, two trails through forest which includes a tree house in an actual tree, and, of course, a home.
The Hollisters have called Sheldanna Farm their home for seven years. According to Ann-Marie, “we started out with just chickens and a garden. I just kept adding.”
Currently, the Hollisters have an assortment of projects on the go as well as a list of things they want to try.
With several fields filled with gardens and a new outdoor greenhouse and indoor greenhouses, the couple is preparing for an abundance of fruits and vegetables this year. In addition to selling their fresh produce, the Hollisters will use some to make jams, jellies, and preserves.
In addition to the abundant plant life on the farm, there is quite an assortment of wildlife, including goats, pigs, chickens, hens, roosters, ducks, rabbits, pigeons, turkeys (soon), and, of course, a cat and a dog.
Not all animals on the farm will become meat for the table. Some of the goats will produce milk, which will then be used to make butter, yogurt, cheese and even soap.
Another goat, the first of its kind to come to the farm, will produce wool, which Ann-marie intends to “learn how to spin, but that’s a winter project.”
Sheldanna Farm has two kinds of pigs, pot belly and the average meat pigs. The two pot bellies are rescues who live on the farm for no other purpose than just ‘to be’.
For now, the three meat pigs, soon to be joined by three more, will be able to live happily in a field of their own in amongst the trees, not far from the garden fields.
As a “big animal person,” Ann-marie has gone out of her way to ensure that all the animals will live their lives in clean, happy conditions. According to the Sheldanna Farm brochure: “We take great pride in our animals and believe that they should live the best life they can before it is their time to give back to us.”
The meat chickens are permitted to grow naturally, rather than being rushed as so many others are in similar situations. They’re given the room and space to live and grow without being confined like most chickens bred purely for meat.
The laying hens, who had originally been permitted to roam the property freely, have recently been penned up in a large area due to unauthorized hunting by local foxes.
Of their almost 50 chickens, the Hollisters lost 25 to the hungry foxes. On May 10th, Ann-marie and Sheldon picked up an additional 15 hens and are expecting to get another 20 in the very near future. They buy their hens as day-olds to prevent them from being de-beaked, a common practice that Ann-marie believes is inhumane.
Due to the recent fox activity, the Hollisters secure all of their animals in their pens at night.
The laying hens are not the only birds laying eggs right now. Sheldanna Farm is also home to several different kinds of ducks, two of which are staying close to their nests.
In addition to meat chickens and laying hens, the couple have decided to add six turkeys to the mix. If all goes well, they’ll probably continue farming turkeys.
In addition to your average farm animal, Sheldanna Farm is home to a new pair of pigeons who, according to Ann-marie, mate for life.
There are also a hand-full of rabbits. Some are from a line originally raised for meat, while others are from a line of domestic pets.
Ann-marie has also bred her lionhead rabbits, a domestic rabbit, for their babies, which were in turn sold to pet stores.
In addition to produce, meat, and animal by-products, Ann-marie makes a line of gluten-free baked goods, freshly made for the day they’re sold. She began this venture after being diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity. And, like most everything else she does on the farm, she learned by researching, reading and doing.
With the production of so much of what the average family would buy at the grocery store, the Hollister’s actual grocery bill is minute. According to Ann-marie, some months they spend anywhere between $200 and $400 per month for five people.
They even make their own maple syrup. Unfortunately, they can’t produce enough to sell, but they do have enough to satisfy the needs of their young family.
In fact, that is precisely why they’ve decided to pursue this lifestyle, said Ann-marie: to be together as a family and to provide for their family’s basic needs. She pointed out that farming on this scale is not a way to get rich, but to cover the basics.
As for how they market their many products, it’s through hard work, persistence, and getting out there and getting known.
At present, they have permits to sell their products at various farmer’s markets throughout the area. On Thursdays, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., they will be in Morrisburg. On Fridays, they will be in Long Sault from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. On Saturdays, they will be in both Iroquois, from 8 a.m. until noon, and in Chesterville, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. They will also sell on-farm on Saturday afternoons from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.
In addition to farmer’s markets, the couple is also part of the North Dundas Community Cooperative, a not-for-profit service whose mandate is: “Linking members of the community with local food producers and artisans, to provide healthy choices and showcase talent.”
Also, Sheldanna Farm is a registered Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. According to the Ontario CSA directory, “CSA farmers receive a set fee (from you – the consumer) prior to the start of growing season. In return, you receive shares (produce) in the farm’s bounty and you also share the risks due to weather and other factors beyond the control of the farmer.”
For those participating in the Sheldanna Farm CSA, baskets can be picked up at all farmer’s market locations or on-farm. Ann-marie pointed out that those who pick up their baskets on-farm have the opportunity to switch out whatever vegetables they don’t like for more of another.
The Sheldanna Farm CSA serves Ingleside, Long Sault, Cornwall, Morrisburg, Iroquois, Winchester, Chesterville, Ottawa and area.
In an effort to market their farm and its many products, the Hollisters plan to participate in as many community fair events as possible. They were recently invited to participate in Morrisburg’s Canada Day festivities.
To learn more about Sheldanna Farm, the Hollisters invite the public to visit.
Sheldanna Farm is located at 4957 Aultsville Road, Ingleside.