Walton Wood Farm is headquartered along the shores of Rice Lake in Bailieboro, ON Canada. Being a rural-based company, we like to support our fellow farmers as much as possible. These days, small farms need non-agricultural, diversified streams of income to survive and stay out of the clutches of big corporate agriculture.
We are very lucky as there are many creative things happening in our neck of the woods in rural Ontario!
Our Taste of the Country Birthday Celebration
Last summer, we celebrated our 4th birthday at South Pond Farms in Pontypool, Ontario. South Pond Farms and its founder/owner, Danielle French, have achieved international attention with their Netflix series, A Taste of the Country.
The South Pond Farms Experience
On our arrival, we were greeted by a pastoral setting fit for a fairy-tale. We were transfixed by the restored 1800s barn, bright red animal barn, Victorian farmhouse, rustic outdoor kitchen, and of course, a picturesque pond. Odd as it sounds, I was especially impressed by the charming bathroom out-building with a diligent old goat as its guardian. Old Martha accepted an entrance fee of a hearty snuggle.
Learning to Bake—with a Master Pastry Chef!
Our first activity was learning to make bread from scratch in the country kitchen. It was once an old drive-shed and restored to service South Pond Farm’s wedding and event business. Rustic and cozy, we enjoyed making bread dough with Pastry Chef Dylan Smith.
Bread has a surprisingly simple ingredient list, but good bread has some tricks. Kneading it is a kind of art form and I found it immensely therapeutic. It was fascinating to learn that some of the bread ‘starter’ could be over 40 years old! Dough picks up salt and bacteria from the air around it and breads take on the flavour of the environment in which it is made. Doesn’t get more local than that!
Wide Open Spaces
After setting our loaves to rise and enjoying a good cup of tea with freshly made scones, we dropped in on the aviary tour guided by Danielle’s daughter, Carlyle. We learned all about the hierarchy of the hives—yes Queens do rule—, how honey is made by the bees, and how it’s harvested by Sound Pond Farms. We even tasted some of the delicious golden drops from the honeycomb.
After a leisure hike on the trails, we sat for a spell for some pond gazing. An outdoor brick oven nearby cast the scent of smoky embers and brought me back to time spent around a campfire—quiet moments, reflecting on life and drinking in the view. Slowing down just for a little while.
Delectable Lunch at South Pond Farms
Lunch was ready and set inside the old barn—the mismatched chairs, rough wooden tables, and higgly piggly bone China made for an inviting setting with the mood of a movie set. It felt as though we were in a Diane Lane film like Under the Tuscan Sun.
We were served tasty flatbread pizzas with farm-grown ingredients and fresh greens with homemade dressing. Simple and delicious. Desert was a mouth-watering, flourless chocolate cake and Danielle was kind to serve us some celebratory Champagne.
Weddings at South Pond Farms
I’ve been married twice and never had an actual wedding, but thought if I did, it would have to be at South Pond Farms. Not fussy, not pretentious—a gathering place that is soulful and grounding. Yes, a real ‘Taste of the Country.’
Since our visit, South Pond opened a gift shop next to the barn, and we’re excited our own Rural Roots Collection is available there alongside Danielle’s book series and delicious jams, spreads and salts.
On a side note;
Danielle and I met on Boxing Day over a year ago. Our friendship sprouted from a shared passion to make high quality sustainable products, bring jobs and tourism to our communities of Peterborough and the Kawarthas, and exercise our creative muscle by innovating how farms do business.
Our brands are vastly different; South Pond Farms is a brand of innocence and a return to values through food and environment. Walton Wood Farm makes soaps and lotions with edgy themes and we can be at times a bit wild.
Although our companies have different voices, we have the same challenges; finding and training staff, marketing, sales, financial management, operations, and working seven days a week to stay on top if it all.
We are both very lucky to have partners in life that are fully supportive. Danielle’s “Shawn” and my “Peter” are cut from the same plaid shirt and blue jeans cloth. Hard-working, gentle men with infinite wisdom and grounded sensibilities. A calm voice in the storm.
There are lots of sleepless nights for both Danielle and me. It is reassuring and enjoyable to have another farmpreneur to share experiences with; ideas, “aha’s,” successes and failures all go down better with a glass of wine and a friend who can relate. Complementing, not competing.
In 2019, my wish for you is to make space in your life for a ‘simpler time’ and find your own Taste of the Country. Somewhere off the grid to step back, reflect and enjoy the moment, just as we did that warm summer day last June at South Pond Farms.
Founder, Walton Wood Farm