“This wasn’t meant to be a business at first.”
That from the Sault’s Antoinette Linklater, who grows a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables at the Sunnynook Farms space at Mill Market every Saturday (as well as Wednesdays in the summer months).
“It was meant for me to get healthier. I was overweight, so in order to get healthier, you eat healthier, and rid yourself of all the stuff that’s in the grocery store aisles,” Antionette said, speaking to SooToday.
“I’ve always had a green thumb, so I started to look for a farm to work on.”
“I talked to Craig Holmberg (Echo Bay’s Sunnynook Farms owner). He started coming here to Mill Market, so I met him when I was doing some beautification work and planting in the greenhouse at the Canal grounds, then I asked Craig and his wife Sandy if I could plant some stuff on their farm in Echo Bay, and it just turned into a business for me (at Mill Market),” Antoinette told us.
Antoinette, who hails from western Canada, met her husband Simon while the two were studying at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont.
As time went by, the couple moved north when Simon joined the military.
“One of the problems with moving around in the military is that it’s not easy for the wives to get a job. I stayed at home with the kids,” said Antoinette, mother of three.
Simon, who has served in the Canadian Army for 23 years, was promoted from Sergeant to Warrant Officer and transferred from his post at the Sault Ste. Marie Armoury to CFB Borden (27 kilometres southwest of Barrie, Ontario) in July 2017.
Undaunted by the distance involved, Simon helps Antoinette at the market Saturdays, making the drive all the way from CFB Borden every Friday (a six hour trek).
“After he got posted here in the Sault seven years ago I thought ‘I didn’t want to move again.’ I couldn’t do this without him,” said Antoinette, smiling in appreciation.
“It must be love,” Simon chuckled.
“Good food is important. I like travelling back here to be with Antoinette and to enjoy the quality of northern life,” he said.
Antoinette said “I’ve gotten a lot healthier, and now I grow over 300 varieties of vegetables and fruit (as well as selling preserves).”
Items on her list of goods for sale, grown in a heated greenhouse at Sunnynook and transported to Mill Market, include carrots, strawberries, kale, radishes and more.
It takes Antoinette and Simon an hour to two hours to set up the merchandise at Mill Market Saturdays.
“Business is good,” she said.
“Feedback from customers is really good. Students and families like the prices,” Antoinette said, adding the number of open houses for customers at Sunnynook Farms in Echo Bay will increase from one to three (hoping to have one each in August, September and October).
“This is important to me because it’s gotten me a job. I’ve been able to create a business out of it and I’ve been able to eat healthier and I’m able to feed our family healthy food (as well as selling it to other families).”
And by the way, if you recognize Simon, you can click here to see a SooToday profile of him, written when he was stationed in the Sault.