Bart Millson grew up on a cash crop and livestock farm in south western Ontario. He came to Ottawa in 1987 for university and had planned on returning back home, that is until he met a local girl. Soon after university they bought their first country home in Oxford Mills and moved to Kemptville two years later. Itching for more space and attracted to a country lifestyle, the stars aligned in 2003 when they purchased a 42-acre field only a couple kilometers from town. They built in 2006 and started cash cropping the same year. Interested in exploring what more they could do on their farm, the perfect opportunity became available in 2017 when Kemptville Chicks was started (er, hatched) following a successful application to the Artisanal program as part of the Chicken Farmer’s of Ontario. More than doubling the number of chickens raised each year, they are on track for selling 2,000 in 2019, in only their third year of operation. They are proud to offer local, free-range, pasture-raised conventional and non-certified organic chickens that have a choice to eat grass and bugs or grain-only feed – or both! They believe in raising happy, healthy chickens for their customers and their family.
Kemptville Chicks – ‘Farm to Table’ in Action
The presentation will profile the Artisanal program as part of the Chicken Farmer’s of Ontario. Participants approved for the program are allowed to raise up to 3,000 meat chickens a year without quota, and must follow stringent growing guidelines and target non-traditional consumer markets. The trials and tribulations of implementing the program, and what it truly means to put the ‘Farm to Table’ concept in action will be the two main presentation themes. Customers attracted to the concept are smart, savvy, and are willing to pay the more premium prices. In return however, they demand transparency in the growing, handling and processing practices, and want to see and experience the benefits that ‘Farm to Table’ purports to offer. Growing from 500 chickens in 2017 to 2,000 in 2019, things discovered, surprises, ‘aha’ moments, and lessons learned will be discussed from a front-line, in-the-chicken-poop perspective. The main takeaway will be that it takes effort, hard work, and a dose of luck, but it can truly be an enjoyable, rewarding and successful farming venture.