For Harold and Patsy Schmidt, Acres of Dreams is an aptly named business.
For years, they have wanted to farm in the Timmins area.
“I grew up on a beef farm and went to agricultural college,” she said. “I took equine but ended up marrying a guy in the dairy program. “We’ve always been looking for a farm. Harold’s job ended up in mining, so we did that for a while.”
After raising their family, they sought to fulfill their dream of farming in the north.
“We bought the farm in 2013,” Schmidt said. “I’ve been full-time farming from the very beginning and Harold became full-time in 2016.”
After starting with beef, the farm has expanded to include numerous other products to provide area residents with farm fresh food.
“We’ve been expanding all the time,” she said. “We started up just wanting to do the veal calves and then the opportunity to do the artisanal chicken program, to do 3,000 chickens a year, came around, so we did that. We had the opportunity to recommission my husband’s family pork farm, so last year we took that on.
“Originally, we were just doing beef, and any of the beef cuts. Then the chickens came about. We were doing the whole chickens at first, so now we cut up the chickens and also offer breasts and legs. We’ve added pork to our portfolio as well. We do barbecue pigs and rent our roaster as well.”
The family-run farm offers beef, chicken, pork, turkey and eggs. It is all locally raised and processed.
“We do take some of our meat to southern Ontario and it gets made into summer sausage, pepperettes, kielbasa and we’ve got a few other things coming up as well.”
Their products have proven to be popular among northern residents.
“We’ve had a really good support from the local community,” Schmidt said. “People like to know what goes into their food and where it comes from. We try to stay local so our after-buyers are local and we like to sell back to our local communities.”
She also believes the farm-fresh trend will be more than a passing fad with some customers.
“I think that you will always have the people who are here to stay with it,” she said. “There are some who are riding the trend train, but the regulars will follow through for a long, long time.”
In addition to tending to the animals, they grow barley and hay to feed the livestock. They have 70 acres of their own, and lease another 100 acres locally for growing.
With so much to do, when do local farmers get a day off?
“What’s that?” she asked, with a laugh. “With just the two of us running the farm, we can’t leave at the same time, so there is always one of us around. Even Christmas morning, calves and pigs and chickens need to be fed.”
In addition to selling at the farm, the couple attends many local markets.
“We do the Kirkland Lake Food Market. We do the Downtown Timmins Urban Park market, the Matheson Gail’s Market, the Cochrane Farmers’ Market, the Iroquois Falls market, and the Mountjoy Farmers’ Market, and then we are always here,” she said, noting it will likely be easier to catch her or Harold at one of the markets.
“Or if you are planning to come to the farm, I always tell people to call ahead first because you never know where we’ll be, at one of the markets or out in the fields.”
The Schmidts feel fortunate to be doing what they love in their community.
“We just proudly grow in Timmins,” she said. “All of our stuff is grown in Timmins.
“We have bees in our own backyard. This is our first year with the bees and they are doing really well. We do the eggs as well.
“We are proud to do it all in Timmins.”
With that said, Harold and Patsy Schmidt are truly living their dream.
Acres of Dreams is located at 1156 Mahoney Rd. in Timmins. Follow them on Facebook or call 705-365-7484.