Vendor Feature: Orchard Hill Farm

Hello everyone and happy Thursday! In April, we began a series of Vendor Features where you were introduced to one of our vendors each week. Now that the market is up and running again and we've settled back into a bit of a routine, we thought it would be the perfect time to continue these features! One of the things I love most about Farmers' Markets is that you can meet the people who grow and make your local food and local products directly. These features allow you to do that with a bit more detail! Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Ellen Laing from Orchard Hill Farm and Killdeer Food Company! Read below to get to know her a little more - and make sure to come to the market this Saturday to introduce yourself to Ellen and try some of her wonderful bounty!

Meet Ellen Laing from Orchard Hill Farm!

Orchard Hill Farm is a horse-powered farm located just north of Sparta where Ellen’s family grows a wide variety of fresh produce including (but definitely not limited to!) salad greens, potatoes, onions, sweet & hot peppers, rhubarb, asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis! Ellen’s family has been farming for generations. Her parents began growing fruits and vegetables in 1979, started growing organically in 1983 and came to the Covent Garden Market in the 1980’s to sell organic strawberries!

Ellen lives on the farm with her parents, her husband, and two young children. She met her husband in Alaska and then moved to Oregon together where Ellen worked as a chef in high-end restaurants. When she moved back to the farm to be closer to family, Ellen hadn’t intended to start farming but through a love for food and knowledge of how it grows, Ellen started her company, Killdeer Food Company, named for her favourite bird that often keeps her company in the garden. Ellen tries to use all the food her family produces and makes vinegars, ferments, salads, soups, and more, depending on what’s available at the farm.

“I love to eat, cook and feed people,” writes Ellen. “We have to eat every day – elevating it to something that feeds my desire for beauty and creativity, while supporting the wildlife and diversity of this land that has been in the family for so long…there’s just something really elementally satisfying about it. I love the simplicity and the complexity of farming – there is always something humbling, something astounding and moving in each season of growing food.”

Ellen loves to talk with people about their food! This is one of the reasons she sells her fresh produce at farmers’ markets. Ellen wants people to know where their food is coming from and give them an opportunity to ask questions! “I hope that we can build a relationship and that they feel like they can trust that I will make the right decisions – about where I source my seeds, how I care for the land, when and how I harvest,” Ellen writes. “Food security at its finest.” Ellen cares about her food, and makes her farming and cooking decisions consciously. If you have any questions about why she grows a certain variety of tomato, or how and when she chooses to plant it, just ask! She would be happy to answer your questions, give any advice, or chat about how you liked something you purchased the week before! This is the beauty of a farmers’ market – a place to meet your farmer.

With her experience as both a chef and a farmer, Ellen knows how fantastic vegetables can taste – “in the right season, with the right growing conditions, harvested and stored in the right way. We harvest greens only in the morning, hydro cool them and let them chill in a walk-in fridge before we pack them, because that’s how they’re going to hold up the best. The best is what I want to bring to market every week.”

To get a taste of Orchard Hill’s Bounty, head to their online store! Each Monday, Ellen updates the website with what’s available that week and ordering closes on Wednesday at noon. You can choose to pick up your order directly at the farm on Friday afternoons, or at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings. Make sure to sign up for their weekly newsletters while you’re on their page! Ellen will send you details about what’s available and might send an occasional recipe! Support local, London!

Who Can You Find at the Farmers' Market this Week?

This is the list, folks! See who you can find at the Farmers’ Market this Saturday, June 20th! Click on their names to find information on pre-orders and to learn more about their farms and businesses!

Stay tuned for more updates as more of our vendors return to the market over the next few weeks! Check out their websites for more information about their products and to see what’s in season!