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Let’s eat! Ol’ McDonald has a farm in Lavigne you can visit

Lisa McDonald and Jason Baumgartner left city life behind to launch a pesticide-free, community-supported agriculture program that you can visit to buy fresh local food and learn about farming

Lisa McDonald and Jason Baumgartner had a dream of getting away from the hustle and bustle of big city life to focus on raising their two kids in greener pastures.

Those dreams were realized when Lisa turned her parents property in Lavigne into a full-scale produce farm three years ago.

The Old McDonald’s Family Farm, south on Highway 64 between Verner and Noelville, offers community-supported agriculture programs for families to buy into as well as harvest tours at this time of year.

“I was working as a general manager for Niagara Falls hotel and my husband was running a restaurant. I wanted a second child but no longer wanted 10-hour days. My parents had this property for eight years and so it all just clicked,” said Lisa McDonald.

The pesticide-free, community-supported agriculture program provides pre-purchased vegetables for families on a 14-week basis and reaches as far as North Bay and Sudbury.

The farm offers kale, carrots, beans and all kinds of other market goodies.  

Kohlrabi, also known as a “German turnip” is easy to grow in the Lavigne soil, as are swiss chard, tomatoes, cucumbers, baby carrots and peppers.

Lisa said this year green onions were mastered to ensure they are bunched together and grown more efficiently. 

The lettuce was also a huge success thanks to the installation of overhead irrigation and a caterpillar tunnel.

The bean and carrot crops were not abundant this year, but Lisa feels those are new challenges to tackle next spring.

In addition to vegetables, Lisa said they also harvested 160 chickens and sold off the birds in two batches this year.

Right now, produce season is wrapping up with a good old-fashioned cleaning of the fields to prepare for the fall fair and pumpkin patch festivities.

Every weekend from Oct. 1 to Oct. 23, Old McDonald’s Family Farm will offer a corn maze, pony rides, tractors, vendors and carnival snacks Saturday’s and Sunday’s.

The corn mazes are made out of a strong grass called grain sorghum.

There are chickens, ducks, rabbits and sheep for the young children to experience.

Sadly the pumpkins on site won’t be from Old McDonald’s this season.

Lisa McDonald said “our crop of pumpkins did not work after 2,000 transplants due to the nitrogen in the soil. We are bringing pumpkins this year and will try again next year.”

Next year, they are also hoping to incorporate some chef’s table events where Jason can put his chef’s papers and background in food and beverage to good use. 

Lisa said she also aspired to live off the land in a yurt with her partner Jason.

The farm might not exactly fit the bill, but they are living peacefully and learning a lot about the fertile lands of Lavigne along the way.

To plan an upcoming visit to the Old McDonald Family Farm for some harvest season fun during the month of October, visit OldMcdonaldsFamilyFarm.ca.

Visits to the patch are $10 for adults and $5 for children.

The farm is also on Facebook and Instagram.

It’s located at 140 Poirier Road between Verner and Noelville on Highway 64.  

Anastasia Rioux is a writer in Greater Sudbury. Let’s Eat! is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.