Wholesome Produce & Very Cool Stuff
Twenty-five years ago, Shelley Brown and her husband were looking for a place to put down roots and raise a family. When a friend told them about a farm for sale on Fish Lake Road, Demorestville, they found that place.
“We built a home here and raised a son,” says Shelley. “Now he’s raising his own family right next door. We work together on the farm and they have invested in their own cattle.” The Browns are well known for their beef cattle and have recently gone to 100% grass fed all year round. She says with pride, “Our calves are born here and raised hormone-free and antibiotic-free from birth to market.”
They recognized the growing interest in knowing exactly where our food comes from and the consumer shift toward healthier, more sustainably-raised meat. “We thought, hey, we already do things that way, but we’re not getting the full benefit of selling direct to people and having them know who we are and how we do things,” she says. So they opened their own retail space. “It’s a boutique-style farm-stand,” she says with pride, and it really, truly is. It’s called The Harvest Shed, a farm-stand with a difference that offers locally produced, top quality stuff not just for the kitchen but the whole house. Shelley loves well-made, hand-made or up-cycled things, and she’s supporting local artisans by selling their decorative and practical items.
The shop got off to a great start in 2019, then Covid 19 hit and restrictions had them scrambling. But 2020 is going well. There is a strong market for top quality, sustainably-raised, grass-fed beef and The Harvest Shed sells it in a wide range of cuts. “T-bone and sirloin steaks, prime rib, short ribs and roasts, everything right down to lean ground beef, all wrapped in freezer paper,” says Shelley. In fact they sold so well in Spring, their supply is limited until Fall 2020. But there is a lot more to explore in the store.
“We added pork to see if there was a demand for it,” she says. “It’s not pasture-raised, but I like to say our pork is raised the old-fashioned way. My parents’ and grandparents’ way.” Pork cuts range from chops and roasts to ground pork and side pork … and then, there’s the eggs.
“I’ve got chickens now. Lots of chickens!” she laughs. “I have 25 hens. I’m learning a lot as I go along and we’re getting tons of eggs.” In keeping with the down-home style of The Harvest Shed Shelley’s free range eggs are for sale washed or unwashed, depending on just how country her customers want to be.
Other fine local goods on offer include Roblin’s Maple Syrup Darvel Lace Honey & beeswax candles and Meg’s beeswax wraps, Old Tyme Canning wine jellies, Grumpsy’s beautiful turned wood bowls, birdfeeders and birdhouses, rocking horses, keychains and driftwood sailboats, from local wood-workers, Hugh Davies, Janice Powell, John Sedore, Tony Carrol and Chrisopher Coylel, sewing by Hangin’ By a Thread, From The Homestead and Diane Denyes-Wenn, primitive rug hooking by Louise Powers, Enchanting Natural Soaps, Uniquely Wired Creations, Beach Pebble Tales, Bodhi Tree jewelry, Deep Roots & Co., Alka’s Garden artwork and Shelley’s own hand painted signs and crochet. “If I love it, I want it in the shop,” she says. Her impressive team of crafters sells everything from jewellery to handmade soap. There are antiques and vintage finds, too. If you love crochet, you’ll love this place. Shelly says, “Some people think crochet is all about mittens and hats, which I do, but also everything from jewellery and capes to baskets.”
The first year she found her artisans online and by asking around. This year, those sellers returned and a lot of others approached her. The shop filled up fast. She’s glad to showcase their work and displays and hands out their business cards, urging customers to contact the makers directly.
Fish Lake Road has always been off-the-beaten-track, but that is changing with the popular Three Dog Winery nearby. Shelley promotes The Harvest Shed mostly through Facebook, and with a listing on prince-edward-county.com, people from all over the world find her easily. She’s had visitors from Germany, Australia and Peurto Rico, but says, “I especially love it when local people find me, because they’re the ones that come back again and again for gifts and things for themselves.” And it’s a GREAT place for gifts. You just don’t find this stuff, or this vibe in a big box store.
Christmas capped off their first season and they had a ball. “It was a lot of fun, we’ll definitely do it again,” she says. “We opened weekends only because this place is hard to heat, but we dressed up The Shed with lights and wreaths and a big Christmas tree covered in hand-made decorations. It’s pretty dim in here in the winter, so it looked magical with all the twinkling lights.” County people often stay away from popular attractions and shops in the high season, partly because they’re busy themselves and partly to avoid the crowds, but a lot of locals discovered The Harvest Shed at Christmas. And they loved it. “Everybody’s welcome to come in and just have a look any time,” she says. “There’s no pressure to buy. We’re enjoying ourselves, and we like meeting people.” The Harvest Shed will close at Thanksgiving but reopen after Remembrance Day for holiday shopping.
2020 is a strange year, but Shelley and her husband are rolling with it. They’ve adapted. They’ve got great produce and products, and they’re having fun. Visitors buy meat and produce as well as hand-made items, but locals are her biggest market for produce. “Over the winter we took meat orders by Facebook message and email and it was easy,” she says. “You say what you want, I put it together, weigh it and get back to you with the cost. If it’s all good, we arrange a time for pick up from the driveway.” In fact, adapting to the Covid crisis has its bright side. If you want to know exactly where your food comes from, dropping in to the place where the beef cattle live is a heck of a way to find out.
When asked her advice to others thinking of taking a leap, going into business or changing their business in Prince Edward County she says without hesitation, “Go with something you’re passionate about. For me that’s farming and anything hand-made or upcycled. Be willing to collaborate, be willing to learn and say Yes, Yes, Yes to opportunities that come your way.” What’s in the future for The Harvest Shed? More local, sustainably grown food. The County is rich in small-scale producers and it’s what customers are looking for.
The shop is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday noon to 4pm, and Shelley has added self-serve for when it is closed – that’s so County, and urban visitors love it – and she does it the old way, cash in a jar, and the new way, e-transfer payment by phone. She says Patches (the dog) is usually around to keep an eye on things.
For startups or businesses looking to expand or re-locate to The County, you can fill out this Business Inquiry Questionnaire, and the Community Development Department will respond in 48 hours.