Please note Sunnynook Farms will be closed for the 2021 season for restructuring but they will still maintain hay and meat sales in addition to their equine facilities.
The Holmbergs’ two-hundred-acre farm in Echo Bay ON, operated as a dairy farm since the 1960s. Craig Holmberg’s parents raised him and his three brothers on the farm and they all grew up working it. When it came time for their parents to retire, Craig and his wife Sandy made the decision to purchase the property and continue the family tradition. Now they’re raising their own children on the farm, and each plays an important role in making sure everything runs well.
“Instead of dairy, we decided to make some changes, and little by little we expanded and got into hay, poultry, beef, pork and produce,” said Sandy. “At first, we sold our products word-of-mouth. Then when the Mill Market in Sault Ste. Marie started up in 2014, we sold through the farmers’ market.”
Soon, area restaurants started approaching Sunnynook Farms looking to source locally. Sandy told me: “Angela Caputo, owner of The Breakfast Pig Eatery, wanted to work with us because we practiced raising our animals humanely. Our hogs are free range, where they are free to move between the barn and the pasture. We grow most of the feed for all of our farm animals including hay, peas, oats, and barley.”
The two-acre market garden on the farm grows a wide variety of vegetables including corn, pumpkins, greens, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, zucchini, and more. “What we don’t have, we will sell for the Mennonite farmers in the area, as they have greenhouses and have a longer growing season,” says Sandy.
For the past three years, Sunnynook Farms has offered a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) program. “It’s a win-win for everyone, as it gives us some capital early in the season, and our customers can come to the market booth and pick out exactly what they want for their family, instead of us doing it for them.” This popular CSA has just a few spots open.
I asked Sandy about future plans for the farm. “Since we’re not far from the main highway, we want to become more of a tourist destination. For the past four years we have had an open house in September, and that’s been very popular. The event has offered farm-raised meat for sale, and Angela from the Breakfast Pig is on-site with her food cart with prepared food dishes. People are free to walk the farm, see the art, equipment, fields, and animals. There is also horseback riding. We want to do that more often, and include sleigh rides in the winter and hay rides in the summer, along with continuing a U-Pick event during an open house. People are more interested in knowing where their food comes from, and we want to give them the opportunity to see and experience that and hear directly from the farmer.”
Craig and Sandy believe in giving back to the community. Over the years, they have given a big portion of their leftover produce to local charities through Connect the Dots Community Harvest, which distributes it to area organizations who in turn, get the produce directly to the people in the community who need it.
The Holmberg family are hard workers. The business of farming takes a special kind of people to steward the land, raise healthy animals, and produce food we all enjoy all year round. Hats off to Craig, Sandy, and family!