Before opening Fresh From the Farm in 2003, Jacqui and Tim Schmucker were incredibly nervous.
Although the couple had already been selling meat, cheese and honey on a pre-order basis out of a walk-in cooler space they rented for two days a month, opening their own store was a completely different experience.
“We had no clue if we were going to make it because this was a huge step,” Tim says. “We had like almost two weeks where we almost killed ourselves working 24/7, but we managed.”
Fresh From the Farm, which is located on Donlands Avenue near O’Connor Avenue, features hormone and drug-free meats, produce, dairy, baked goods and prepared meals such as lasagna, shepherd’s pie and burritos, which are made in-house.
“All our food comes from small family farms, Amish and Mennonite. Many are horse and buggy people that are growing food in very sustainable ways,” he says. “When you come in and buy a chicken we can tell you, ‘Well this was grown by the Martin family and this is what they feed their chickens.’ ”
He says they strive to bridge the gap between rural food producers and urban food consumers so people are more connected to where their food comes from. Jacqui says many of her recipes were inspired from trying to create healthy meals for her children and were also developed with love and passion.
In addition to their partnership with several Ontario-based farmers, the store also offers artisan breads from St. John’s Bakery, which is based in Riverside, and gluten-free breads from Jennifer’s Original on Kingston Road. They also supply other small businesses in the community with their farm fresh goods, like Lazy Daisy’s Cafe near their home on Gerrard Street E. at Coxwell Avenue.
“We have had numerous offers to expand, to start another location in partnership with someone and we’ve resolutely said no because quality of life is more important than continually expanding and expanding,” Tim says. “For us it’s more important to have a balanced life.”
After the Christmas holidays they say they were delighted to receive many grateful emails from customers.
“I am happy when the customer is happy” Jacqui says. “Sometimes when I feel very, very tired after working so much and so hard, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving, I wonder sometimes, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But then a customer comes and says ‘thank you so much for what you are doing, thank you for the wonderful food.’ ”
About this article: