Heartwood Farm

Behind the Scenes at the Farm Featuring Heartwood Farm & Cidery

Spring is a time of renewal and celebration, especially for farms in York Durham Headwaters. One of the jewels in the region that celebrates each season is Heartwood Farm and Cidery. Come along as we dig deep into the heart and soil of this regenerative farm. Learn about how this farm family prepares for the planting season and how you can roll up your sleeves and get dirty on the farm this spring. Join us as we celebrate the magic of spring on the farm and uncover the stories that unfold amidst the marvelous muddy Heartwood Farm.

Heartwood Farm Cidery
Heartwood Farm
Heartwood Farm Cidery

Set on 42 acres, Heartwood Farm and Cidery is located amidst the countryside of Ontario’s greenbelt just outside of the Village of Erin. This quintessential family-run business has two generations getting their hands dirty in everything from working in the mud to hitting the dirt to promote their products at markets.

Heartwood Farm is a regenerative farm that is dedicated to agricultural innovation. For them, it’s more about working with the land from the soil up, creating a co-working relationship with Mother Nature, to be true stewards of their land.

In addition to a working farm with livestock and various plantings, Heartwood is a craft cider producer. Using apples from their orchards, maple syrup from their trees and other items from their land they craft unique and flavourful seasonal ciders that’ll put a spring in your step.

Another fun reason to visit Heartwood Farm is for their unique farm experiences. Visitors can book a range of down and dirty things to do like drinking cider with cows and glamping in the woods.

Heartwood Farm Cidery Erin
Heartwood Farm Cidery Cow
Heartwood Farm Cider

I had the opportunity to interview Val, one of the owners and backbone of Heartwood Farm, to discuss spring on the farm. When asked about how Heartwood Farm began, she gave me all the dirty details.

Val and her family moved from Toronto 20 years ago, with three small kids. She said, “I had dreams to reconnect with my rural heritage.” Val also shared that she wanted, “to find a way of life that connected (her) and the family to the land, food and rural community.”

As their kids got older and her husband became interested in growing fruit trees and establishing an orchard on the farm, things started to grow. The farm evolved into a space where they welcomed visitors, like opening the cidery and developing on-farm experiences.

When asked about how they get the farm ready for spring, Val shared that it all begins with maple season in the farm’s sugar bush. Val says, “March is a time when we’re inviting visitors back, we’re actively engaged in making maple syrup on the farm.” Spring is a great time to enjoy their Secrets of the Sugar Bush. This fun experience shares all about how maple syrup is produced and how the sweet gold is produced on the farm. Maple season on the farm is a short one. So, spring is a busy time that includes cleaning up all the maple syrup production materials and storing them for next year.

Another key element in preparing the farm in the spring is pruning. “We have a small team of very committed volunteers on the farm.” These dedicated volunteers do spring pruning in their orchards to get the fruit trees ready.

Heartwood Farm Cidery

Heartwood Farm is home to a number of animals that include chickens, cows and pigs. Spring means, “moving animals to and from based on their reproductive cycles,” as males and females are kept separate when not mating. Val shares, “we farmers are presiding over an orgy,” because, “we have to make sure that the right animals are together at the right time.”

Pig at Heartwood

While some farms are busy planting crops in their field in the spring, Val says that, “because so much of our farm is in perennials we don’t have to plant them every year.” Heartwood Farm is made up of a lot of grassland, trees, shrubs, as well as fruit and nut trees.

However, she mentioned that they do get their hands dirty with, “small raised bed gardens, where we grow food for our family.” Plus, they also grow some vegetables for their glamping guests. “We also grow some of the ingredients for our ciders. Very specifically, the cayenne peppers that go into the cider called Eve Goes Badass,” added Val.

Heartwood Farm Cider

With all the long days and hard, dirty work, I asked Val about some of her ‘wins’ as a farmer.

Because of the up and down weather of late winter into early spring this year, which meant an early maple season, they sadly lost some sap early on. However, Val shared that, “we still at the end of the season felt good about the yield from the maple syrup.”

Maple season also had another key win that Val mentioned which was, “the opportunity to share the experience with different groups of people,” that visit the farm is always rewarding. She shared that a group of Japanese high school students visited this spring and got their first exposure to Canadiana while visiting during the maple season.

Also, even with the challenging weather changes, Val shares, “building resilience into our system, helps us be more able to navigate the strange weather,” as a win as a farmer.

Heartwood Farm Cidery

You too can get out and dig your heels into the soil at Heartwood Farm! The farm offers a variety of hands-on activities that include cider tastings on their patio as you look out over the farm, giving you a true perspective on the farm to glass taste.

Another fun thing to do at Heartwood is their Cider with Cows experience. Starting in late May, visitors can book this one-of-a-kind experience where Val will take you through the picturesque pastures on the farm with a glass of cider to sip and stroll. Get up close and friendly with the farm’s herd of cows and learn all about their connection to the regenerative farming process.

Heartwood Farm is also home to one of the coolest glamping stays in York Durham Headwaters. With three frontier-style tents set up across the property, you can enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating farm stay starting in May. Each of the tents feature a comfortable queen-sized bed, outdoor kitchen and chance to immerse yourself in the great outdoors.

Heartwood Farm Cidery Cabin

New this year is Heartwood’s Four Seasons of Transformation retreat. This incredible day-long guided program is ideal for those in a transitional time in their life and want to unplug and reconnect to nature and themselves. Four Seasons of Transformation is an awesome opportunity, especially in the spring, to tap into renewal on the farm. Guests will enjoy forest bathing, connecting with the animals and all with the farm as a companion to their journey.

Be sure to pre-book your experiences online in advance.

Heartwood Farm & Cidery is an exceptional farm among the many across the York Durham Headwaters region. This regenerative farm stands out for countless reasons. Among which include their dedication to the land and working with it as well as their immersive hands-on experiences that offer visitors an opportunity to reconnect with the earth and get their hands dirty too. So, if you’re looking for a memorable place to visit this spring, plan a trip to Heartwood Farm.

By: Stephanie Mayo from The World As I See It

York Durham Headwaters Go to Home Page