“I love farming” declares Sam McLean, who has pursued his passion for almost 30 years on a farm in the Kawarthas that was homesteaded in the mid-1800’s. The farm has been producing maple syrup for over 100 years and strawberries since the mid-1950’s.
Sam passed his passion for farming onto his children, Ben and Erin, and they are following in his footsteps. In 2011, to support additional family members, they acquired a nearby farm which allowed them to expand their product lines and production. They have also expanded their special events and now Maplefest (3 weekends in March) and Pumpkinfest (4 weekends in October) attract over 10,000 people each!
In 2017, the McLean Berry Farm was awarded the Tourism/Hospitality Award and Erin McLean received the Young Professional of the Year Award from the Kawartha Chamber of Commerce & Tourism. The Peterborough County Federation of Agriculture and the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce named the McLean family the 2019 Farm Family of the Year.
They now work both farms, the 100-acre McLean Berry Farm and the 187-acre Buckhorn Berry Farm, growing strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, snap peas, beans, asparagus, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, gourds, peppers, currants, rhubarb, squash and zucchini; they also produce maple syrup, jam, pickles and preserves.
Distribution of sales/revenue
|Farmers’ Markets (6)||30%|
|On farm events||10%|
Farmers’ markets attended
- Haliburton Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays
- Peterborough Downtown Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays
- Lakefield Farmers’ Market on Thursdays
- Stanhope Farmers’ Market on Fridays
- Minden Farmers’ Market on Saturdays
- Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Market on Saturdays
On farm events
Maplefest on three weekends, 9:30 am to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday in March. Attracted over 10,000 people 2019.
Pumpkinfest on four weekends, 11 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday in October. Attracted 13,000 people in 2019.
The MyPick experience
Sam McLean was one of the first farmers to join MyPick in 2011. The Peterborough Farmers’ Market had an issue with vendors who only bought and resold produce pretending to be farmers. Sam and other farmers selling at Peterborough saw the MyPick Verified Local Farmer Brand as a way to differentiate themselves from the resellers. They embraced the program and have been MyPick verified farmers ever since.
The situation came to a head in 2017 when Peterborough was featured in a CBC Marketplace story on transparency at farmers markets. In the spring of 2018, the McLeans and six other farmers had their applications to sell at the Peterborough Farmers’ Market refused. The community rallied around the seven farm families and supported the creation of a new farmer-only market. Within weeks the Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Market was launched. All farmers selling at the market are third party verified and the majority are MyPick.
“Farmers’ markets are incredibly important to our family’s business – we sell about 30% of our crops at markets. People want to know where their food is coming from and they make the choice to buy directly from a farm family and support that farm family. MyPick gives them confidence in that choice.”
“You can’t put a price on the MyPick verification – it’s amazing – it gives our customers confidence in what we sell and over the years it has helped build our customer base with repeat sales.”
Erin McLean, McLean & Buckhorn Berry Farms