Family run business growing to meet demand
The Baxter family has been residents of Iron Bridge for several generations. With the beautiful Mississagi River running through it, Iron Bridge is located in the Municipality of Huron Shores. It is a friendly rural village on Highway 17 East, between Thessalon and Blind River ON.
The Baxters are entrepreneurs and have grown Maple Acres Farm in just a few short years. Ron and Jayne Baxter, a husband and wife team started their business about five years ago and they have been hard at work growing it since then. They’re located in Iron Bridge, off the highway on Eley Road, just past the Red Top Motor Inn.
They live in a home they built themselves on property severed from Ron’s parents’ 480-acre farm, right next door. Ron grew up in Iron Bridge, on his parent’s farm. Jayne is originally from Toronto. They have been living in Iron Bridge on their two-acre property for over ten years and they have two young boys. Jayne told me that she loves her newly adopted hometown. Ron recently left his off-farm job and now they both work full-time at the farm and in their business.
“We started with making maple butter with a machine we acquired. Initially, we were giving them away as gifts until we started to think that people may want to buy them because everyone loved them so much. It was at that point we began selling it to family and friends on Facebook. Soon, we made enough money to pay for the maple butter machine,” said Jayne. “From there we added more products and went to vendor sales in the area.”
“On Ron’s parents’ property, there was a small sugar bush operation with a few taps and sap buckets. This small operation couldn’t keep up with the demand so we made the decision to expand and modernize the sugar bush. We added 1,500 taps along with pipelines and a state-of-the-art wood-fired evaporator. With that investment, the operation now supports Maple Acres sales.”
The Baxter’s didn’t stop at maple products for their business. They also have meat chickens and turkeys as well as laying hens, and have added a grading station in order to grade their own free-range eggs and others’ eggs too.
The products Maple Acres sells are very diversified, including syrup, maple butter, granola (with a gluten-free option) maple sugar, fudge & candy, maple & cheddar popcorn (Chicago style – using non-GMO kernels coconut oil, and maple syrup).
Jayne has introduced some products made from treasured family recipes like their salsa and cookie in-a-jar mix, (chocolate chip and ginger snap) and pre-made pancake mix.
Adding to what is offered are freezer jams, jellies and canned peaches and with a collaboration working with a local chef, Monique Laird, they have released two popular products; “Monique’s Maple Syrup Vinaigrette” and “Monique’s Maple Bourbon BBQ Sauce.”
Jayne explained that they get a lot of customers who want specialty packages for wedding favours, birthdays, gift packages and more. For example, they produce a package called “Great Canadian Breakfast” which includes maple syrup and a double batch of pancake mix and another package called “Maple Acres Special” which includes maple butter and maple syrup. What a great way to mix up different maple products and baking for fun gift ideas!
In late 2021, Maple Acres diversified further in a new direction for their business and opened a storefront market in nearby Blind River in the downtown area, right across from the Blind River Library.
“We set up a “pop-up” store next door in November and December of 2021 and it was so successful, we decided to maintain our storefront in the space next door, sharing space with local photographer, Jenn Kelly Photography — Jenn has her studio in the back– and we have taken over most of the front retail space. We are now able to incorporate much more selection and products for our customers,” said Jayne.
The storefront offers locally produced food products as well as locally sourced, reusable or refillable items for the home. “We’ve partnered with several businesses from the area and Ontario to bring unique and delicious products to locals and travellers alike.”
Products like meat from Penokean Hills Farms, soups and bone broth from Stock and Broth, cheese products from Thornloe Cheese, greens from Jardin Farms, products from Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm and Winery and are adding new and unique food and home products every day.
In the works and soon to be offered, is a small café at the Maple Acres market location in Blind River. “We will have fresh salads, soups, sandwiches and baked goods, as well as coffee, tea, smoothies and fresh-pressed juices. The food will be prepared at an off-site inspected kitchen space.”
Besides offering their products for sale at the new store-front market in Blind River, they can be purchased online through the website, by farm-gate, or at their booth at the Sudbury Farmers’ Market. Maple Acres products can be found at the following locations in and around Algoma and beyond.
- Rome’s Independent Grocer
- Maple Ridge Store
- Copper Bean Café
- Nature Nook in Chelmsford
- Truly Northern Farms
- Valley Organic blends
- PL Bargains
- Seaport Merchants
- One Mile Ranch
- Local and Fresh
- Sweetgrass Market
“We deliver from Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury and ship Canada – wide.” Jayne also mentioned that wholesale pricing for larger quantities and retail is available.
Back on the farm, the Baxters are getting ready for a new season crop of maple syrup and will be offering visitor experiences at their sugar shack. Jayne and Ron have so much enthusiasm for their business. I have no doubt they will meet their ambitious goals while enjoying the advantages of raising their family in a small rural, close-knit community. Well done!
Maple Acres Farm
Ron and Jayne Baxter
7b Woodward Street, Blind River (market)
50 Eley Rd. Iron Bridge (farm-gate)
PH: (705) 297-2585
Facebook and Instagram @mapleacres
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