Thomson Farms Cider & Winery, located in the northwest corner of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, has been a farm that’s been evolving over its 50+ year history.
While their roots are in strawberry farming, the Thomson family has expanded their farm offerings on their fifty-five-acre property on the western edge of Sault Ste. Marie.
Wally and Martha Thomson bought the property in the early 70s and began to grow potatoes. Eventually, strawberries were added and they opened the property for customers as a U-pick operation. Their grandson Brad grew up helping out on the farm and learned every aspect of running a farm operation.
Today, after skipping a generation, Brad Morley, his wife Michelle and their two children now live on the property and own operate the farm. They have grown and enhanced the business in a short period of time.
Brad Morley and his team at Thomson Farms Cider & Winery want you to know that they have been very busy since I last caught up with them in 2017. In 2019 they converted their 100-year-old barn into an event venue. They also teamed up with a local caterer from Grand Gardens. “We can now host weddings and other private events in the barn”, said Brad.
The biggest addition to the value-added products available at the farm is wine and cider. They have even changed their name to reflect this change. Brad said, “With the expertise of our wine-maker Alexandra, who came to us from Nova Scotia, we have invested in our on-farm winery/cidery and as a result, we can produce some fantastic products like fruit wines and hard cider."
“We are making fruit wines using strawberries from our own farm, wild blueberries from Wawa, and raspberries from Leisure farms in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario. Our hard apple cider is made from Ontario apples from the Collingwood/Thornbury region and Thomson's is also making a strawberry/blended apple cider”, said Brad.
In addition to the event barn, Thomson Farms has opened its own Wine Bar & Patio, open year-round and provides a great opportunity for people to sample wine and hard cider by the glass. “The entire farm property is licensed, where people can roam around," Brad pointed out.
Their products are sold directly from the farm and at the Mill Market, as well as at local restaurants including the Machine Shop, Quattro Vinotecca, Embers On The Ridge, Root River Golf Course and The Breakfast Pig. There is even a Wine Club subscription, where subscribers can get a four, six, or twelve-month subscription, where bottles of wine of their choosing are delivered to their door (cost includes delivery).
Brad says, “We’re moving towards the tourism market and the Agri-Tourism model”. “We want to create pumpkin weekends including pick your own pumpkin, hayrides and bonfires and we did a very successful farm-to-table dinner partnered with Buy Algoma and Embers On The Ridge."
Not to worry! The pick-your-own strawberries will be staying! In fact, with the new Day-neutral type of strawberries available, the season will run from July to September.
Thomson Farms' has a long history of welcoming families to their property for a “fun on-farm” experience. Customers who came as children, and are now bringing their own kids to the farm for the delicious, fresh taste of locally grown strawberries and more. Kids are welcome to play on the playground equipment, while their parents walk into the fields of strawberries to pick. Customers of all ages are welcome to come and pick, or buy ready-picked berries. As well you can get freshly made baking including pies and gluten-free strawberry tarts. Alternatively, you can just relax on the patio and enjoy some strawberry lemonade.
Brad explained that in addition to expanding their on-farm operations, they have also broadened the distribution channels of their farm products. In Sault Ste. Marie, many Thomson Farms products are currently available at Rome’s and Pino’s, Metro grocery stores as well as the Mill Market Farmers’ Market and other grocery stores throughout Ontario. They will also be making frozen whole strawberries available. Some local restaurants are using their products and Brad would like to see more of this kind of support from local businesses. Brad says “our jams are very popular with six different varieties and their Strawberry & Jalapeño Fruit and Pepper Spread are best sellers!”
Brad’s grandparents, Wally and Martha Thomson enjoy coming back to the farm and greeting customers. They get a kick out of watching the kids play and of course keeping a proud eye on their grandson Brad and his family and how they are preserving the family farm tradition!
If you haven’t yet tried Thomson’s new wines and ciders and any of their products, you’re in for a real treat!