Business has been good for Tim and Donna Norris. They operate Orange Door Acres Farm, just outside Mount Elgin.
“We’re a small family farm and we’re very local,” said Tim at the Tillsonburg Farmers Market on Saturday morning.
Orange Door Acres features an artisanal chicken program, through the Chicken Farmers of Ontario. It allows small family farms to raise between 600 and 3,000 birds per year without needing to buy the marketing board’s quota.
“We have to follow all the same rules as all the big raisers,” he noted. “We’re inspected every year, for animal welfare as well as the food safety side of it.”
Orange Door Acres uses local butcher Tillsonburg’s Poultry Specialties.
“If you jump on our website you’ll see the whole story,” said Donna, noting they moved to Oxford County from Cambridge eight years ago.
Their story notes they purchased the farm at 323804 Mount Elgin Rd. (RR2, Mount Elgin) and became only the third family to own the property since 1859. They started raising poultry in 2014 with 20 chickens and three turkeys. As demand grew, it increased to 60 in 2015 and 160 the next year. After becoming official artisanal farmers in 2017, Orange Door Acres Farm was born.
“We had five-and-a-half acres and we were trying to figure out what we were going to do with it… and we started raising chickens,” said Donna.
They have been selling poultry products at the Tillsonburg Farmers Market for four years – and this summer, so far, has been one of their best.
“I hate to say it, but when this first hit, a lot of people were afraid to go to the grocery stores,” said Tim. “We had so many people come to Orange Door Acres.”
Purchases can be made at the farm using ‘non-contact’ procedures, similar to curbside pickup.
“We also do deliveries,” Donna noted. “They can go on our website, see what we have. This way, everybody’s safe. And it’s worked out.”
“We just got our e-commerce site up and running about a month ago,” said Tim.
“And that was through the grants from the government,” Donna noted.
“The more I’m hearing from customers, they are really wanting to support small, local farms,” said Tim. “And more and more they are wanting to taste that food, they want the story behind it.”
“They know if they come out they’re going to see the birds out on pasture,” said Donna.