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If you spot a brightly coloured egg this time of year, it’s likely to make you think of one thing: Easter.
But this year, The Gamble Farm in Port Sydney wants you to think of something different: supporting vulnerable women and children in our community.
You can find the farm’s eggs in local stores (there’s a list of locations at the end of this story) and, just in time for the holiday, their cartons will have a special Easter-themed label. With each purchase of the eggs, the farm will donate a portion of the sale to the Muskoka Women’s Advocacy Group (MWAG), the organization that runs Muskoka’s two crisis shelters for women and children.
There is also donation link on The Gamble Farm Facebook page for those who would like to do more to support MWAG.
“I took quite a bit of time to research local charities and there are a bunch we wanted to support,” says Alexandra (Ali) Gamble, who owns the farm with her husband Dan. “They really struck a chord with us for their support of women and children coming out of abusive situations. It’s something that’s important to us and moving forward we’d like to help raise awareness as well.”
The Easter promotion is a way for the Gambles to support a community that has embraced them since they arrived in Muskoka two years ago.
“We’ve had a huge amount of support from the local community, which I wasn’t really anticipating initially,” says Ali. “I didn’t realize how loyal people in Muskoka are to their local businesses, which has been really awesome because they are our bread and butter. The tourists in the summer are great but the locals in Muskoka are what keep us afloat. That’s been a welcome surprise.”
Like many people, Ali and Dan had an interest in growing their own food. Before moving to Muskoka, they had a few backyard hens and sold eggs to a couple of neighbours.
“We really liked the interaction and wanted to see if we could grow it as a business and have it as a full-time income. We really had to sit down and crunch numbers to figure out how and when and where we could do that,” explains Ali. They wrote a business plan and then went looking for a property that would suit their needs. They found it on South Mary Lake Road in Port Sydney.
In addition to laying hens, the farm also has laying ducks and quail, meat birds and turkeys, and a market garden. They sell their products at a farm-gate store during the summer, along with plant starts, preserves, and local fish from other local producers.
“The consumer is becoming more informed and people really want to know where their food comes from,” says Ali. “We weren’t farmers before this. We’re a prime example of that movement of wanting to live off your own land and grow your own food and take care of your own animals and know that things are being raised ethically.”
They’ve had a steep learning curve—and they are still learning. “We found that growing produce here is very difficult. There’s a short growing season and poor soils, and the inclement weather that you have to deal with is tough,” says Ali. “And on the livestock side, there’s a lot of predators, so you have to develop multi-levels of defense to keep things away from your animals.” One of their dogs, Maya, is a Great Pyrenees and helps to ward off threats.
If all goes well with this Easter promotion in support of MWAG, Ali and Dan plan to do several similar promotions each year in support of a different local charity each time.
“The more successful these promotions are, the more we’ll be able to afford to do,” says Ali. “I think it’s going to go over well. I’m hoping that these continue to grow over the years.”
You can find The Gamble Farm’s eggs in Huntsville at Soul Sistas, the Muskoka North Good Food Co-op, Bullock’s Your Independent Grocer, Metro, and Farmer’s Daughter; in Port Sydney at Jamieson’s General Store and Freshmart; at the Novar Foodland and the Baysville Country Store; in Bracebridge at Northern Produce, Gagnon’s YIG, Muskoka Natural Food Market, and McMaster’s Muskoka Fine Foods; at the Sobeys in Gravenhurst, the Port Carling Foodland and the Rosseau General Store; and at other locations further afield including Metro Orillia, Bradford Sobeys, Alcona Beach Sobeys, Angus Sobeys, Aurora Sobeys, and in Barrie at Goodness Me, Zehrs Essa, Zehrs Big Bay, and Metro Barrie.
The Gamble Farm is located at 445 South Mary Lake Road in Port Sydney. Their farm-gate store will open for the summer in May. Follow along on Facebook or Instagram @thegamblefarm for more information, or visit thegamblefarm.com.