Penokean Hills Farms
Back in 2005, a group of farmers in Algoma District, on the North Shore of Lake Huron, made the decision that they wanted more control over their businesses. They were tired of shipping their beef cattle to Toronto and being dependent on others to get the price they not only needed but deserved for their hard work.
Instead of taking a back seat and letting others make decisions affecting their future, that small group of five farmers decided to take matters into their own hands and form Penokean Hills Farms (PHFarms) as a way of marketing and selling locally raised beef.
It’s a Northern Ontario and Algoma agricultural success story with no signs of slowing down.
I met recently with Nick Gordon. He’s been working with PHFarms for several a year now, but he has a longer history with the business. His dad’s farm is one of the originals involved in the group, so he not only grew up in the farming industry but has now brought his business/graphic design skills and enthusiasm to the business as their very busy Manager of Sales and Marketing.
I asked Nick where the name “Penokean Hills Farms” came from. He said that it’s a name that one of the founders, Will Samis, came up with. It’s a geographical name after a range of hills in Algoma.
Nick said there are now more than 12 farms involved in PHFarms and they process and sell beef products wholesale as well as retail along with pork products. All the farms are located in the Algoma District.
I wanted to know what makes PHFarms beef stand out from other beef in Ontario and beyond. Nick has an impressive list of what makes their beef a premium product.
- It’s all-natural
- No added hormones
- No anti-biotics
- No soy or corn
- All animals are under 24 months
- High marbling makes the flavour excellent
- The cattle are either 100% grass-fed or grass-fed with the last three to four months fed a pea and barley mix. Their innovative diet has won Penokean Hills Farms a Premier’s Agri-Food Innovation Award!
PHFarms is proud to work with a beef scientist from the University of Guelph who advises them on the best techniques to raise optimal Black and Red Angus beef cattle.
I wanted to know what local chefs think of the beef, and Nick was quick to add that chefs like the fact that it has exceptional flavour and tenderness; as well, they are supporting local family farms, which makes it a popular item on their menus.
In 2015, Penokean Hills Farms purchased the Abattoir near Bruce Mines, Ontario. This has allowed them to process their products. Now that this service is more centralized, they have more options to expand. While the Provincially inspected and regulated abattoir is owned by PHFarms, it also services the whole community. That abattoir has since sold and Penokean Hills Farms has built a brand-new state-of-the-art facility which opened in Bruce Mines in 2023. “I think the biggest change we've seen is the building of a new abattoir which also allowed us to house a full-service butcher shop and smokehouse. The other new change for us is being able to purchase retail cuts online from across the province," said Nick.
Expansion is exactly what Penokean Hills Farms has been doing. They not only serve the Algoma District, in Northern and Southern Ontario. Starting with just 50 head of cattle back in 2005, 350 in 2017, and over 600 head in 2018. Today over 1,200 + head of cattle are the count and is growing.
For tourists, visitors, as well as residents of Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma District find Penokean Hills Farms products as well as other complimentary products from local producers, at their new retail store and butcher shop in Bruce Mines. The store is open six days per week, as well as a satellite retail outlet in Sault Ste. Marie at the Soo Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. Click here for a further list of where Penokean Hills Farms products can be found, either on a menu or in a retail store/market to prepare yourself. Customers can also order online and have their meat directly shipped.
To learn more about the success of Penokean Hills Farms and where and how to buy their products, visit their web site www.phfarms.ca
You won’t be disappointed!