By Tom Collins
A Western Ontario farm family is getting out of the dairy business to sell Christmas trees in Eastern Ontario.
Pam and Grant Martin of Sunholm Farms at Ethel in Huron County have agreed to purchase Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm at Pakenham, west of Ottawa, to be closer to Pam’s mother, who runs Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush.
The Martins were finalists in the national dairy farm sustainability award in 2012 and won the organic dairy farm of the year award this year.
“Lots of people were completely floored when we made the announcement we had agreed to purchase the Christmas tree farm and sell our organic dairy operation,” said Grant. “The decision to sell this farm was very difficult. I was born and raised here and love the community, the land and our cattle. I also love a challenge and learning new things. These are a couple of reasons why we decided to make the move.”
Pam said her four sons are excited about being able to help at their grandmother’s sugar bush. She is looking forward to dealing with a more easy-going commodity in Christmas trees.
“Being married to a dairy farmer sometimes feels like you’re married to a dairy farm,” she said. “It’s a 365-day-a-year thing. I don’t know how many weddings we’ve gone to in the past where we go to the wedding in the afternoon, we run home, milk the cows, and make it back for dessert. The freedom to have a weekend off. We haven’t actually wrapped our heads around that yet. I think for the first little while we just may feel confused.”
The Martins’ 140-acre dairy farm is up for sale for $4.7 million and comes with 49.7 kg of quota, 80 milking cows, the barn and a four-bedroom home.
Grant said a key selling feature is the organic nature of the farm.
“We believe that organic agriculture will continue to enjoy excellent growth rates,” he said. “The three organic milk price increases this year and more quota incentives are a sign of things to come.”