Every once in a while you meet someone who you consider extraordinary! Sam McLean is one of those people! It’s not that he is an outwardly figure. Actually, he’s not. If fact, he seems to be low key and unassuming (at least to me) However, he exudes a quiet confidence, especially when he talks about his farms (McLean and Buckhorn Berry Farms) and his family.
"Welcome to the McLean Berry Farm."
Sam McLean was a cabinet maker, but not anymore. Now he is a “full-fledged” farmer and a successful entrepreneur! Although Sam wasn’t raised as a farmer, he has farming in his blood. Both his grandfather and father were farmers, but not the young Sam. Sam was raised in Peterborough, but moved to Alberta as a young man. He and his wife Jane live there for a number of years. Sam liked it there, but Jane “convinced” him to move back home, Ontario and Peterborough. Once they had settled back in the area, Sam traded his cabinet making tools for farm implements. The McLean Berry Farm and the climb for survival were born! Sam and Jane purchased a neglected berry farm located between Lakefield and Buckhorn. There, with their two children, daughter Erin and son Ben, they started to build their future. A mere mortal would have been happy just building a successful berry farm, but not our “hero” Sam! Yes, it all started with berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries), but then it grew! More varieties of produce were added, sweet corn, peas, beans, potatoes. Eventually he out grew his own 25 acres and started to look for more.
"Inside the produce store at the McLean Berry Farm."
Today he now farms 100 acres (75 acres leased). They all contain everything from berries to corn and potatoes to tomatoes! You would think that this would be enough! Remember, this was all happening with two growing children and he and Jane were doing this all on their own! I can only imagine the long days and nights Sam spent building his dream! As the business grew other components were added, “Pick Your Own Berries”, a “Produce Store”, participation in “Farmers Markets” (3 of them, 2 in Peterborough and 1 in Toronto) and they host and run two festivals (one in the spring and the other in the summer)!
"Judi eats one of her 'Pick Your Own Berries' at the McLean Berry Farm."
A few years ago Sam and his family decided to purchase another area berry farms, the Buckhorn Berry Farm. Sam's son, Ben, manages the Buckhorn Farm. Daughter, Erin, is totally involved with the McLean Farm, overseeing both the store and the Farmers' Market booths plus much more. To say that the whole family is involved would be an understatement! In the Summer, the McLean Berry Farm welcomes visitors to their annual Strawberry Festival. During the festival the family can enjoy "tasty strawberry treats to sample, live music, strawberry picking, wagon rides and a great local summer BBQ"!
"Welcome to the Buckhorn Berry Farm."
Exerpt from the McLean Berrt Farm's history (http://www.mcleanberryfarm.com/html/history.html) "In the summer of 2010, the McLean family was able to purchase the Buckhorn Berry Farm and this has provided them with more wonderful arable land to be farmed. Now, instead of renting land, they are able to save countless hours of traveling and moving machinery and focus on what they really love - growing delectable fruits and vegetables!"
"A Buckhorn Berry Farm field."
Now in addition to their McLean Berry Farm store, the McLean's sell their products at the Buckhorn Berry Farm store.
"The Buckhorn Berry Farm store."
And, I forgot to mention, they own a larger grove of Maple Trees. In the spring they tap the trees. They do it the old fashion way. They collect the sap with buckets. Sam feels it’s less intrusive.
"Maple trees art tapped to collect sap from the trees."
If you have never explored a "sugar bush" and witnessed how the "sap" is collected and "maple syrup" is produced, you are missing an awesone "Canadian" tradition.
"Collecting Sap the old fashion way!"
Once the sap has been collected and taken to the sugar shack, the "magic" begins... wonderful, tasty Maple Sugar/Syrup!
"The McLean Berry Farm Sugar Shack!"
Now the real fun begins for visitors to the farm, the Buckhorn Maplefest! The McLean Berry Farm comes alive in March. People, hungry for the sweet taste of Maple Sugar, line up to experience both the taste and the fun of discovering how Maple Syrup is produced.
"Welcome tp Maplefest at the McLean Berry Farm."
During the Buckhorn Maplefest, vistors can experience how Maple Syrup use to be made, with the Sap boiling in a large open pot. The operation is now much more modernized, but the taste is still the same!
"Making Maple Syrup the old fashion way!"
For vistors who just want the fresh air, and a walk in the woods. the McLean's provide snowshoes. That is, if there is still snow on the ground!
"There's snowshoes if you need them."
The Buckhorn Berry Farm is famous for their "pumpkin patch"!
"Welcome to the PUMPKIN PATCH."
Each Fall the McLean's welcome visitors to their annual Pumpkin Festival held at the Buckhorn Berry Farm.
"PUMPKIN fun at the Pumkin Festval."
The Pumpkin Festival offers visitors lots of fun activities. For instance, there is the "Corn Maze". You can get "lost" having fun!
"Come into the Corn Maze!"
If you are "really" brave, there are many "scary" (not too scary) activities. You can look for you favourite "headstone"!
"Here's a PERFECT headstone for you!"
Looking for entertainment? Check out the Pumkin Cannon! "It's aimed to please!"
"The Pumpkin Cannon."
Finally if you are looking for those "perfect" pumpkin(s), you can go to the Buckhorn Berry Farm "Pumpkin Patch" and search until you find one (them). so much fun!
"Looking for the PERFECT pumpkin!"
Fortunately Sam and Jane’s children have grown up appreciating and loving farm life. His son, Ben, is now Sam’s “right hand man” and is helping his parents in their “golden years”! Erin “cracks the whip” at the Farmers Markets and looks after the McLean’s Country Stores. With all this happening Jane will be looking after the family garden and making sure that Sam behaves himself! The dictionary defines “extraordinary” as “exceptional in character, amount, extent, degree, etc.; noteworthy; remarkable: extraordinary speed; an extraordinary man”. This certainly describes Sam and the McLean Family perfectly! The McLean’s and the McLean and Buckhorn Berry Farms are a wonderful example of what drive, imagination and determination can do! If you love fresh produce, it certainly is worth the drive to Buckhorn and the McLean and Buckhorn Berry Farms! You will be glad you did! To find out more about the McLean’s, check out their website at http://www.mcleanberryfarm.com/.