Goat cheese and vegetable frittata
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle French from South Pond Farms. This place is a real gem and ideal for the perfect wedding day...
MJ ~ What is the story behind South Pond Farms?Danielle ~ South Pond is farm in the Kawartha Lakes, outside of Peterborough. It was first worked as a farm in the late 1800’s. It stopped being a working farm in the 1960’s and by the time I moved here from the city in 2006 as a place to bring up my four daughters the property was in disrepair. The barn was falling down, the house in ruins. One of my interests has always been in food. I wanted to have a business that would use the land so I started Farm Flavours - delivery farm fresh food to various people in Toronto on Friday’s using in part - the gardens I had developed on the property. The business was successful so installed a commercial kitchen and, from there, I ventured into restoring the barn as a place to have farm dinners. Once the barn was restored, I found that people wanted to have special celebrations there - weddings and special events. My daughters have worked with me and my partner Shawn in creating South Pond as a destination for art, culture, celebrations set against the backdrop of the beauty of the Oak Ridges Moraine and the area’s working farms.
MJ ~ I would assume the farm is more of a summer/fall place to be? Can you tell me what goes on all year long?Danielle ~ I enjoy the property with my family - I have ski and hiking trails that I am able to finally find the time to use! But there is a lot of work that goes on to make the property the way that it is - wood piling, maintenance, garden work, repairs and of course, a series of capital improvements. Ideally we would like to host smaller culinary events which is why we've just launched our Culinary and Artistic Adventures programs that are for smaller groups interested in making something, learning something, getting away from their life for a day, and just enjoying the property the way that we do! Even in the winter, it is beautiful here and there is something to be enjoyed. In fact, Snow Day is coming up February 8th! It’s a day to enjoy the property in the winter!
MJ ~ Why should couples get married at South Pond Farms?Danielle ~ South Pond appeals to couples who love the outdoors. People that appreciate nature and farm land, and who yearn for some simplicity in their lives. Inside the barn, all things become equal - economic, social boundaries I believe drop and guests just enjoy how a barn “speaks” to them. We do remind people that it is an outdoor experience. The barn while sheltered from the elements, is open to the outside
Behind the scenes, it takes some effort - in fact probably more than festivities in a banquet hall - to make the day seamless! The grounds need to be maintained, the flowers watered if rainfall has been limited, gardens weeded, barn floors swept and tables set up. I think people like having their ceremony overlooking the pond - if lucky the swan family who make the pond one of their residences, will land on the water while the ceremony is underway! Guests enjoy having a drink in the meadow, snacking on hot flat brads from the stone oven. I don’t ever get bored of this experience and I can imagine that guests who are here will savour it also.
MJ ~ I truly think food is key when it comes to the wedding reception. Can you tell me about what you guys have to offer? Danielle ~ The food experience begins when guests sample our appetizers and flat breads from the stone oven. We source our food locally and whatever is fresh from the gardens, we serve. Snap peas and goat cheese dip, roasted tomatoes with fresh basil on flat breads, when guests enter the barn for dinner, we serve on vintage platters, family style: a platter or grilled meats, fresh vegetables with herbs, and usually some sort of fresh berry cobbler for dessert with Kawartha Dairy products!
MJ ~ Your Farm is beautiful.... can you share some of the highlights of your grounds?Danielle ~ The Farm has a real natural beauty. All we’ve done here is to enhance it. We have added gardens with a wild flower feel and tall grasses that are indigenous to the area. We are even planting a cutting garden for floral arrangements this year. The pond is a real feature and some people may chose to have a reception in the clearing that we’ve created close to the edge. We keep trails groomed so that guests can walk around and visit with Millie the goat and friends or sit in the flower garden for a meditative break, or simply join the festivities around the stone oven later at a evening fire or watching the sun set in one of our Adirondack chairs. We try to create a peaceful setting despite the commotion of a wedding.
For more information about South Pond Farms please visit Danielle's website at: southpondfarms.ca
Inside the barn during our Art in the Fields Event (which will be running again this year June 29-July 3)
The outdoor stone oven
Tula the baby goat
Pond with swans