Orchard Hill Farm is a 93 acre organic farm powered by Suffolk Punch draft horses, established in 1979 by Ken and Martha Laing. Orchard Hill Farm is blessed with excellent soils and a spectacular view. It is located on a ridge northwest of the village of Sparta (Ontario, Canada), near the north shore of Lake Erie.
The farm is tended to by Ken and Martha Laing. In their semi – retirement they are maintaining a small herd of Suffolk Punch horses to do most of the work on the farm and produce more of this wonderful rare breed of work horses. All of the farmable acres now have a perimeter fence and another farmer’s yearling calves are rotationally grazed each summer through the pastures. Permanent pasture is the best kind of no-till and is one of the best strategies for rebuilding healthy soils. The carbon footprint on the farm is reduced by the use of the Draft Horse (also called Work Horse or Heavy Horse).
We acknowledge that Orchard Hill Farm is located on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinabek and Leni-Lunaape People. This territory is covered under the McKee Purchase, signed May 19, 1790, Treaty #2 of Upper Canada Land Surrenders. We recognize and respect the traditional stewards of this land and by living, working and continuing to steward this land we try to honour them. As we move forward we continue to ask how we can be good guests here and how we can better support indigenous self-determination in the longer term.
Ken and Martha Laing
Both Ken and Martha grew up with connections to farming. Ken grew up on a farm near the town of St. Mary’s, while Martha spent the summers of her childhood on the family farm. When they studied at the University of Guelph, Ken’s passion for agriculture led him to earn a degree in horticulture while martha finished her degree in Fine Art. After completing their studies they moved to Martha’s family farm and established Orchard Hill Farm in 1979. For the first phase of their farming career they produced pick-your-own strawberries, raspberries, peaches and elderberries. They purchased their first team of draft horses in 1980. In 1989 they began the transition to organic farming and grew some grain crops in addition to the fruit. In 1997 Martha and their daughter Ellen started a small CSA garden producing vegetables to help pay for Ellen’s university tuition. Over the years the CSA became the main enterprize on the farm. Many interns joined us during the growing seasons of the CSA years. (See past blog posts.) Ellen and her family returned to the farm in 2015 and in 2017 Ellen took over the management of the CSA. She is no longer producing vegetables and has established Killdeer Food Co. (see page in the website). 2020-2022 Ken did no-till organic vegetable trials with Living Labs Canada and EFAO. Ken and Martha’s son, Grayden worked on the farm off and on, but his true passion is in the arts. He has produced videos on the farm and his family are now living in the area with his own media/art business (see links). In the last few years Martha has continued to explore her passion for growing dye plants and learning to dye with them.
For more information about us or our farm please contact us at:
Suffolk Punch Horses & Ken and Martha Laing – firstname.lastname@example.org (519) 775-2670