Stack those pancakes high and top it with Kettle Ridge syrup! Why is this sweet stuff so delicious? Because it’s local and made with love! This little farm is finding ways to educate and entertain their guests to the farm and we are ALL about that. If you haven’t head of Kettle Ridge, it might be time to pull up a chair to the breakfast table for a big treat. We were curious about how the modern day farmer gets their start and what goes into creating the sweet life on a sustainable farm.
How did Kettle Ridge Farm begin?
The farm was started about 10 years ago by Joe Hurley, a tax accountant who decided he preferred working outdoors in the natural environment. With no farming experience he began tapping maple trees to produce maple syrup and he started keeping bees to produce wildflower honey. Five years ago, Joe purchased a wooded 11-acre property on Log Cabin Road in Victor to launch a full-time, environmentally-sustainable farm, and his son Chris joined him to become the farm’s manager. Together they have built a small yet thriving local farm that not only produces exceptional maple and honey products, but also hosts tours, pancake breakfasts, and farm-to-table dinners.
What is your favorite part about operating your farm?
Without question, it is meeting and talking to our new customers as well as our old supporters. People are genuinely interested in what we do to produce maple syrup and honey and we love to show them. A big part of our mission is educational, and we often take individuals and groups—including senior citizen groups, people with disabilities, and kids from city neighborhoods—around the farm. Our Adopt-a-Maple program actually gives people the opportunity to “adopt” one of our maple trees for a year, which means having a tree with their name on it, receiving a photo certificate and package of maple products, and even coming out to the farm to help tap their tree in late winter. It’s a lot of fun.
What has been a challenge about starting up a local farm?
Becoming financially sustainable is certainly at or near the top of the list. The fixed costs for property taxes, insurance, employee salaries, and equipment maintenance are substantial enough that we could never make it simply by selling maple syrup and honey—there just aren’t enough maple trees to tap, and there is too much cheap imported honey in the marketplace. That’s why the revenues from special events and other “tourist” activities are necessary for our long-term viability. We’re also expanding our product line to include specialty items like coffee-infused and bourbon barrel-aged maple syrups. Fortunately we receive a lot of support from the local community in everything we do.
Why you like selling at Parkleigh
Visitors to the farm often ask us where they can buy our maple syrup and honey, and we’re happy to tell them they can find it at Parkleigh. Everyone knows Parkleigh and everyone enjoys shopping there. We love shopping there! Parkleigh epitomizes the “support local” shopping experience and as area residents we are proud of the long and successful history of the store.