Two years ago, a seed was planted when The Urban Farm opened its doors. The concept was to give residents easy access to more farm-fresh food.
As people continue to seek healthy food options, that seed has grown. The Urban Farm has placed more roots down with a second location.
Husband and wife owners Steve Morin and Becky Lefebvre still have their storefront in South Porcupine. Now, they have added a larger second store in Timmins’ west end.
“On July 6, 2020, is when we officially opened the store,” Morin said. “We wanted to expand out here, the west end, because it is a bigger market. The population is out here. There are big stores out here, everyone was driving this way.
“It made sense that we would plant our feet in the ground now, since we were doing so well in South Porcupine.”
They plan to continue operating both locations.
“We see a lot of South Porcupine people come this way,” he said. “It’s a bigger store. We try to put as much as we can in the South Porcupine store, but being that it is only 300 square feet, and this being 1,800 square feet, we just can’t (offer everything).”
With more space, the new store has a lot of new products available.
“We have some coffee from Espanola. It is roasted in Espanola,” Morin said. “We brought in some spices from Peppertree, which is in southern Ontario.
“We have a section called the winter garden. We are flash freezing some of our products. The berries are from PEI. The corn is from Ontario. We have that kind of product that we don’t want to bring in from Mexico, we decided to do that. We call it the winter garden. It comes in flash-frozen.”
There is also a delicious addition to The Urban Farm’s meat department.
“One thing we are doing, which was a big decision, is we brought in certified Black Angus beef,” Morin explained. “We age that 30 days. It’s very tender. That’s probably our biggest change because the meat, we were selling so much of it before, has grown so much.”
There are also farm-fresh, ready-made meals available.
“We have ready-made meals from Pebbles,” he said. “Pebbles is a Mennonite restaurant out in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. People have really taken a liking to it. There are actually some people who are very impressed we have it, they heard about it already when they travelled out that way.
“It’s a ready-made frozen meal that you can put in the microwave or oven and feeds up to six people.”
The Urban Farms wants to make sure there are no surprises in the food they sell.
“For us, it’s about farm-fresh,” Morin said. “It’s about building relationships with the people who are selling us the product and knowing exactly what’s going on with the product we’re buying.
“So, if it’s chicken, it’s non-GMO, there’s no antibiotics in the feeds. It’s knowing very much what the farmers do and how they treat the product.
“People forget about building relationships. It’s easy to just get on the phone and order something through Amazon. We work really hard to know about our product and meet the people we deal with.”
When available, locally grown and harvested food is in stock. There is a system in place in the store to let people know how close to home their products are from.
“We have a colour coding system. Some of the products have little stickers on them,” he said. “Depending on the colour you can tell exactly where it is from.”
There will be more opportunities for The Urban Farm to provide locally grown produce in the new year.
“The local farmers are doing amazing, but then again being the North there is a seasonal factor to it,” Morin said. “We are extremely happy to announce, from what we are being told, that as of February we are going to be able to get local tomatoes year-round, local peppers year-round and local cucumbers year-round.
“There are two 200-foot greenhouses that are being constructed (in the Matheson area) and we’ll be able to bring that in. That will be a fresh product that is local from farmers we trust.”
He said the business is working to provide modern convenience with old-fashioned, farm-fresh food.
“We are offering free delivery, free curbside, same-day delivery,” he said. “We have shopping online. We’ve started that, but we still have some work to do. We have meat, meat bundles, soups, a lot of different shopping online and we are going to continue growing that.
“The newest thing we are going to be putting out is a meal plan. We’ll have 15 meals to choose from, delivered to your door.”
The Urban Farm’s West End store is located at 1052 Riverside Dr. in Timmins. It is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The East End store is located at 119 Crawford St. in South Porcupine. It is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed Sunday.