Mike and Susan Bohm welcome you to Hawthorne Ridge Heritage Farm. Our century home and business is located on 105 acres of rolling hills, rippling creeks, wetlands, hardwood bush, pastureland and orchards in Peterborough County, east of the city of Peterborough by about 25 mins, and just north of Hwy 7.
Hawthorne Ridge Heritage Farm is a busy place! The farm is home to chickens, vegetables, flowers, cats, honeybees, wildlife, ponds, and our prized herd of rare purebred Red Poll Cattle. We offer a wide variety of products from the farm so that you and your family can enjoy homegrown flavours and nutrient dense foods at your table. Some products are only available in season – like our vegetables and flowers. Other products are available year- round – like our grass-fed beef, chicken and preserves.
Every season brings new activities, so we invite you to explore our website and facebook pages regularly and to reach out through email or messenger if you have questions or wish to try our products.
Because we are farming from dawn to dusk, we do not offer regular visitation but we do provide regular deliveries and occasional tours. We hope to see you soon!
Mike and Susan share common values – family first, caring for the land and treating every aspect of our business thoughtfully and ethically.
Mike grew up in Southwestern Ontario in a small farming community where he learned to love cows and develop a deeply respectful relationship with the land. Just a few miles away, Susan grew up in an agricultural community focussed on bringing farm products to the table.
After full careers off, but never too far from farms, Mike and Susan came together to launch Hawthorne Ridge Heritage Farm drawing together the best from our farming family traditions, our education and our passion for creating exceptional food. The farm has also been the central gathering place for our six grown children and their families; thinking of their futures guides the decisions we make today.
Now, our goal is to produce the best quality products that we can, and to showcase the tremendous diversity that an integrated operation can offer. We proudly and confidently share our meat, vegetables, preserves and flowers with others who value local products and understand that a trusting relationship with your farmer is essential. We offer weekly deliveries throughout the Peterborough region and enjoy the chance to introduce our products and share porch side conversations with our customers.
We are blessed to be able to carry out our farming dream on an exceptional landscape that is home to many native species of wildlife and birds. Our commitment to land and water stewardship is our way of life.
For more on the ways in which we have worked to ensure the long-term environmental sustainability of the farm, please click here. To see some photos, click here.
At Hawthorne Ridge Heritage Farm we grow grass-fed beefand some pastured poultryfor meat.
We believe that some heritage breeds, which have largely been left behind because they do not produce as efficiently in modern agricultural systems, offer excellent traits for the smaller producer and have delicious flavour profiles for the table consumer. One of these cattle breeds is the Red Poll, and we invite you to learn more about their fascinating history here. Suffice to say, that they are a smaller, gentler breed, do well on rougher pastures typical of Peterborough County, are excellent moms and provide lean, flavourful cuts. We grow Red Polls exclusively, with real dedication to maintaining strong genetics so that this classic breed can continue for generations.
Similarly we raise heritage poultry, including the Canadian Chantecler Chicken, taking care to choose those breeds with characteristics that fit our methods. Our pasture-raised poultry grow up in outdoor “chicken tractors”, bottomless meshed shelters that provide protection from weather and predators (big problem at Hawthorne Ridge!), yet allow them access to fresh grass to run on, bugs to catch and fresh air always. Because poultry production is closely managed in Canada through a quota system, we are permitted to grow only a small number each year. We have our chickens processed in the fall and are often sold out by Christmas. Read more about heritage chickens and our approach here.
Customers often ask us about eggs. Like other poultry products, egg production is managed through a quota system to ensure that supply and demand are generally matched, which makes perfect sense to us. We do not own the quota that would be necessary for us to produce large numbers of eggs, so we sell only a few dozen each week “at the farm gate” as the law allows. Our heritage hens do not produce well in the short days of winter, so our production varies greatly from the spring peak, to just enough for breakfast in the winter. To be honest, eggs are more a labour of love than a business proposition here at Hawthorne Ridge Heritage Farm.
Some animals are considered livestock when you complete a Census of Agriculture, but are not animals we actually sell….mystified? Read on!
We manage honeybees on the farm – not because we want to sell them, or even because we want to sell honey (which we do from time-to-time), but because we value the pollination services that they provide. We have a variety of fruits and vegetables that require pollination to produce the products we want. We also have hay fields that need to produce seed by fall in order to maintain productivity for the following year. Bees are essential to help plants complete this lifecycle and we value them, along with native pollinators who provide a similar service. We make management decisions based on helping pollinators whenever we can: we limit the use of pesticides (really only spot treatments of herbicide to manage poison ivy, which is evil); we maintain lush fencerows of native plants so that the bees have flowers all season; and we limit cosmetic mowing to reduce disturbance of native pollinators (and also because there are better uses for time and fossil fuels).
We maintain a flock of guinea fowl, who free range. Guineas are probably the “wildest” animal on the farm – they keep completely to themselves, free-ranging for bugs and seeds and ignoring us completely. We keep them for three reasons: they are the best alarm system known to farmers, shrieking loudly when visitors arrive and creating a tremendous fuss when predators are lurking around (difficult to sleep through at 4am too); they reduce the population of potentially disease-carrying ticks by selectively snapping up immature ticks before they have a chance to attach to livestock or humans; and, they taste amazing if you can catch and cook one up – they are the original “pheasant under glass” and are considered a delicacy for good reason.
In an effort to help maintain dwindling stocks of heritage livestock, we have attempted to grow a flock of Beltsville Small White Turkeys. These are smaller birds, as the name implies, than the monsters that grace North American Thanksgiving tables, and they are fun to raise. We continue to work at this project, which has been hampered by some wily predators…stay tuned for this year’s update.
And then there are cats. Are cats livestock? Well, no, not really. but they are essential to the operation of our farm because they keep the rodent population, which could destroy animal feed and damage electrical wiring, at a real minimum. We have a small population of barn cats, who live year round in the hayloft of the barn where there is lots of fluffy straw for snuggling. They have names (meet Bootsie, Pepe and Chip below), they are fed and cared for daily, they are friendly but not cuddly and they are all participants in our rigorous spay and neuter program. They have a job to do, and they take it seriously! So why did we include a note about the cats? To reassure people that it is NOT ok to take unwanted pets “for a ride to the country” – unfixed cats are not welcomed by the existing cat population or by their owners. We try to balance the necessary work of rodent control with the well-documented risk that cats offer to song bird populations by keeping our gang to the minimum number and keeping them well-fed to reduce predator activity outside of the barn.
And a little more info for the eager reader…
Farming relies on close understanding and management of biological cycles, which can be thought of as closed loops. Imagine the life cycle of a tomato plant – a seed is planted, and a seedling transplanted to the garden where it collects energy from the sun through photosynthesis, along with food and water from the soil to produce yummy tomatoes in August. When the fall frosts come along, the tomato plant withers and dies and is broken down by microbes to return to the soil that will grow next year’s garden. It seems like a completely closed cycle, but it is not. Whenever we harvest, we leave the system just a little depleted, and if we did that over and over, soon we would not be able to grow tomatoes at all. So in the garden we add back well-composted plant materials and manure to ensure that the balance of soil nutrients is maintained.
Livestock are essential to the biological cycles on our farm. They convert grass that we grow for them (hay), and plants that they forage into fertile manure that they deposit in the pastures over the summer and that we collect from the barn floors over the winter when they are housed indoors. People turn up their noses at manure (p-ewwwww!) but it is the product of cattle’s amazing ruminant processes (did you know they have a 4-chambered stomach?) that allows them to eat and digest materials that humans can’t and it is the gold that keeps our land fertile and productive. The extra benefit for us is that from time-to-time we harvest a beef for the yummy bbq treats that we sell to our customers.
Hawthorne Ridge Botanicals
We are passionate about growing fruits, vegetables and flowers, along with our livestock and poultry and we invite you to explore this part of our website where we offer some details.
The original farm boasted an orchard planted in the 1920s and progeny from those trees have taken root in every fencerow on the property. Some still produce blemish-free fruit, but most are used to produce our own supply of sweet apple cider, which we press every fall. Ontario law prevents us from selling the cider, but you can get a taste through some of our preserves!
Our generous garden is designed to produce vegetables for our own use throughout the year, and to provide custom-grown herbs and vegetables for local restaurants. When we have more than what we need, we offer extras at our roadside stand, but you will have to watch our facebook and instagram pages (@hawthorneridgebotanicals) for availability.
You have heard about the 100 mile diet? Well at Hawthorne Ridge, our ideal is the 100 ft diet – where dinner consists of a garden tour and harvest about 4pm every summer day, preparation of whatever is ready to be picked, along with something sizzling on the bbq. It just doesn’t get any better!
One of the veggies that we do produce and sell regularly is garlic. Ontario grown garlic is phenomenal, and if you are still relying on insipid, imported bulbs, you really must try fresh scapes (green shoots, ready in June) and bulbs, which are ready later in the summer, whether you buy from us, or at your local farmer’s market. Check out our recipes section for some ideas on how to use scapes.
At Hawthorne Ridge Botanicals, we grow fresh, seasonal, pesticide-free blooms to fill as many lives as possible with incredible beauty!
Susan is both an avid gardener and flower farmer. What’s the difference you ask? Well, a gardener carefully tends flower beds so that the flowers enhance a home and table and the process can be enjoyed from seed to vase. A flower farmer grows flowers for the enjoyment of others, often harvesting rows from the flower field and shipping before the blooms even open…
Flowers are available from the farm in a number of different ways.
Our flower bouquets by subscription are delivered directly to the subscriber (or the person who has been gifted with a subscription). Read more about subscriptions here, or go directly to the Store to shop.
Individual bouquets are also available for order as the season permits. If you have something special in mind, contact us directly to discuss.
At some times of the year, we make flowers available at our roadside stand (see directions in Contact Us).
We also grow edible flowers that pop up in restaurant salads and quiches all over Peterborough.
And, we work with event planners and brides to ensure every celebration looks its best. Our wedding work is carefully documented on our instagram page (@hawthorneridgebotanicals).
The flower business is growing rapidly, so stay tuned for the building of a greenhouse, which is planned for the summer of 2020.
Please check out our galleries of floral images: these are arranged to show you individual flower photos, some of our bouquet design work, and finally photos from some weddings we have completed. Photo galleries are shown here.
We don’t like to boast, but Susan does have some cred! She is a graduate of the University of Guelph (OAC) with a BScAgr in Horticulture (1981), has graduated from the now-popular Floret Flowers Workshop (2019) and is an active member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Mostly she enjoys the collegial interactions with other local flower producers, especially a small group that collaborates to make purchases together. To see the most up-to-date floral news, follow us on instagram @hawthorneridgebotanicals.
Hawthorne Ridge Heritage Farm offers fresh frozen meat year round. Our grass-fed beef is raised on our farm and quantities are relatively limited. For this reason, we sell “by the cut” so that you can be selective and can match your purchases to the size of your available freezer space. If you are looking for a larger order we do sell 1/2s and 1/4s on request.
We pasture chickens during the summer months, raising heritage chicks in predator-proof pens that are moved each day, so that the birds have access to fresh grass, bugs and scratching zones. We supplement their diet with a grain-based grower ration to ensure they receive enough calories to feel content. Late in the summer, or early fall we have our birds processed and they are available almost year round as frozen whole birds, averaging between 4 and 6 lbs. Chicken does sell out quickly!
We no longer produce pork or lamb, but are able to secure pasture raised pork and lamb from another local farmer for you. It is available frozen, by the cut or 1/2 or 1/4 on request.
Customers often ask questions about the feed that we use to raise our animals. The cattle are grass-fed from forages that we produce on our own farm and we supplement that with small grains such as oats. We do not feed corn to the cattle. The chickens enjoy a milled grain supplement. Obtaining certified organic feed for them is very challenging and results in a cost-prohibitive product, so we are using non-medicated feeds from our local feed supplier. Our local suppliers of pork and lamb are similarly careful about the products they are using to feed their animals.
All of our meat is processed at Hilt’s Abattoir at Norwood, Ontario. In order for us to be able to sell our meat to you, the law requires processing in a provincially inspected plant and we are fortunate that Hilt’s is local, less than 10 mins away from the farm. This is important for many reasons, including the fact that Hilt’s does a great job for us, and because they are so close to the farm, there is no travel stress for our animals on processing day.
We respect that how animals live and are fed and processed is very important, and we are always available to answer any other questions that you may have.
To get more information on any of our products, please use the drop down menu from Our Products. To shop right away, please go to the Store, using this link.