Edwin County Farms is located on the northern slopes of Prince Edward County in the area known locally as Solmesville.
The farm covers almost 700 acres, extending southward from the shores of the Bay of Quinte almost two kilometers and encompassing lands that have been cultivated for hundreds of years.
The ages-old, hand-built stone walls that border the fields and snake through forests tell the story of early settlers by whose sweat and heartache these lands were first cleared. The towering oaks and maples that edge these walls speak of an even older tale, one that reminds us of the land’s first stewards: the Iroquois and the Mississauga whose history on these lands is much longer. Coming upon these ancient trees — red oaks, burr oaks, sugar maples, many over a hundred feet tall — it is possible to get a sense of the land as it must have been when it was first wrested from nature.
To this remarkable story, we have begun to add our part, working over the past fifteen years to reclaim much of the earlier arable land, restoring some of it to its former agricultural glory, growing again the grain and vegetables that this area was once famous for. Where old drainage ditches had grown over we have cleared them and allowed the water to run clear again from the fields down to the bay.
Cattle again graze the land, rejoining the land’s natural inhabitants: the plentiful deer, wild turkey, and coyotes with whom we are forced to share this land and our crops. Every step we take we follow in the footsteps of those who have worked this land before us. Every day it teaches us new lessons and offers newly discovered gifts. Every task we undertake we do so with the hope of feeding and enriching the land that feeds us and enriches our lives.
Now, in many of the places where nature has returned to take over, eastern red cedar dominates, growing in thick dark stands where fields have been too long abandoned. Hedgerows of tall ash and oak, hickory and hophornbeam, have become choked with new-comer species such as common buckthorn.
The soil here is shallow and rocky — heavy clay loam generously sprinkled with limestone — a gift from the County’s geologic past that lies often just a few inches below the surface: limestone bedrock, laid down hundreds of millions of years ago when this area was covered by a vast inland sea. This stony soil does not respond well to the plough, each pass bringing more and more rock to the surface.