What’s New

Harshell Fresh and Local Birdseed Hits the Ottawa Farmers’ Market

In our third year of growing, bagging, and selling our fresh and local birdseed, we’ve branched out and can be found each Sunday, at the Ottawa Farmers Market in the Aberdeen Pavilion.








Come check us out from 10-3 for all your back yard bird feeding needs.  We’ve expanded our product line and you can now purchase the following products from us at the market:

Black Oil Sunflower Seed – 35 lb bag, 20 lb bag, or by the 1 lb package

Mixed Bird Seed  (50% Sunflower & 50% Corn/Wheat/Buckwheat) – 35 lb bag, 20 lb bag, or by the 1 lb package

Suet & Mixed Seed Wreaths, Balls, and Cakes

Corn Cobs – ready to hang in your tree for Blue Jays (and squirrels)

Bird Feeders – made on our farm

We’ve got everything you need to get started or to enhance your love of back yard bird feeding.

Our birdseed is also available at Levi Home Hardware in Almonte and at our farm if you prefer.

See you soon,

Harold & Shelley

Harshell Excited for Another Sunflower Season

Hey there!  It’s been a while.  We’ve taken a little time away from our website as we’ve faced numerous challenges on our farm.

Let’s face it … if your livelihood is dependent on Mother Nature, then you’ve struggled the past few years.  Ever the optimists though, farmers keep slugging away, hoping that next year will be better.  In 2016 we had a terrible drought, followed by a monsoon wet season in 2017, then we had another drought in 2018.  As 2019 hit, it was the worst spring we had ever experienced with wet, cold weather in the spring that delayed planting of our crops by about one month.  Once the rains stopped … well they did just that … they stopped and another drought was upon us.  An early frost in September shut down the crops that never really did get going and then harvest was delayed into late fall (even early January).  All in all, we were glad to kick 2019 to the curb (when we finished in late January).

So here we are in 2020 and we got off to a great start with crops going in about one month ahead of last year and into some great soil conditions … and then the rains stopped … yet again.  Recording less than average rainfall so far this year and less than average heat units (sunshine) means that we are off to a slow start again but we are optimistic that this year will turn out just fine.  It must be a 5 year cycle which means that this is the 5th year and the crops will fill the bins.

Most of you are only here and reading this post, because you love our sunflowers as much as we do.  We are happy to let you know that we have planted 20 acres again this year.  Bird seed sales have been excellent as our friends, neighbours, and loyal customers have stepped up to support local during these difficult pandemic times.  Thank you for your love and support.

The sunflowers were planted on Blakeney Road, between Village of Blakeney and Panmure Road.  We are certain that everyone who uses the OVRT will enjoy the sites when full bloom hits this summer.  This year we tried something a little different.  We planted fall rye in the field last fall and then that crop was cut for cattle feed a couple of weeks ago.  Sunflowers were then no-tilled (no cultivation) into the stubble left from the rye crop.

The sign went up on the field last Saturday so that those who are interested can watch the sunflowers grow and monitor timing of the greatest show on earth … 20 acres of sunflowers reaching for the sky and the sunshine.

Thanks for your continued support of our family farm.  Take a drive and check out our crop signs which label the crops we grow in the fields we own/rent locally.  There is always something to see and learn when you take a drive to Blakeney.

Harold & Shelley

Spectacular Sunflower Fields at Harshell Family Farm Enterprises – Almonte

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, again, at Harshell.  We are super excited to welcome photographers, tourists, neighbours, and passersby to view our 20+ acres of sunflowers on Martin Street North (between Almonte and Blakeney).

Neither late planting, drought, or last week’s torrential rains could zap the beauty of these amazing flowers.  Although not nearly as tall as last year and with significantly smaller heads/flowers, they are a site to behold.  Watch for our fresh and local sunflower seed, which will be harvested, cleaned, and bagged in November from these fields.  Limited 2017 seed leftover and available at the farm or at Levi Home Hardware in Almonte.

Thanks for visiting,

Harold & Shelley

Hashell Enterprises Patiently Waiting for Another Spring on the Farm

It’s hard to believe that another winter, of feeding the birds,  has come and gone (at least we hope it’s finally gone).  This was our 3rd season in the birdseed business and we upped our game this year by joining the Ottawa Farmers Market and selling seed at the Lansdowne location.  We met many passionate bird lovers and grew our customer base exponentially.  It was a great first experience and we will be back in the fall with fresh product.  We do have some inventory left over so if you feed year round, please find our seed at Levi Home Hardware in Almonte during regular business hours, or at our farm near Blakeney.

For now our attention turns to planting our 400 acres of crops and serving our large client base for custom planting and spraying services.  We had a bit of a worker bee this past week to completely overhaul our no-till drill which has planted several thousand acres of grains, forages, and soybeans over the past decade.  As we aren’t fortunate enough to have a large shop with cement floor and hydro, our maintenance takes place outdoors, beside our small shop.  Great weather made the task a little bit more manageable.

We’ve been scouting our fields for winter survival of fall seeded crops and also looking for early weed growth.  It’s too wet for us to plant anything yet but, we are planning to get some pre-plant herbicide application done and some fertilizer broadcast on to fields that are dry enough to carry the equipment.  A few dry days are all that we need to be rolling at full speed.

This year we will have a diverse crop portfolio once again.  Come out for a drive in  a couple of weeks and watch for our signs labelling our fields: clover, hay, rye, malting barley, corn, identity preserved soybeans, buckwheat, and of course, our ever popular sunflowers.

We look forward to a great year in 2018, after drought in 2016 and monsoon rains in 2017.  This is going to be our best year ever as we work hard to produce excellent quality, fresh and local,  products for our customers.


Harold still recovering from knee replacement but doing what he can.

Willy the farm dog keeping a close eye on his new best friend (Johnie).

Wes, Amy, and Johnie enjoying the family time while working on repair job.

Mike, Wes, and Harold replacing worn parts on JD 1560 No Till Drill

2017 Fresh and Local Black Oil Sunflower Seed – Available starting Sunday, November 19th

It’s been a long and stressful season, with less than ideal growing conditions but, Harshell Enterprises is pleased to announce that we have harvested our 2017 sunflower crop.  That spectacular yellow field from this summer is now ready for your backyard birdfeeders.

The crop is about 50% of expected yield but the quality is fantastic.  There will be a strong demand for local sunflower seed this year and supply is limited.

Once again this year, you are welcome to pick up seed at Levi Home Hardware in Almonte, or at the farm (6443 Martin Street North, Almonte).

As always, we appreciate your patronage and trust that you will be happy with our fresh, local, and completely home grown product.

Harold & Shelley

Sunflowers! Sunflowers! Sunflowers! 2017 is Spectacular!



We’ve got sunflowers by the thousands this year and despite the unfavourable weather for most of our other crops, the sunflowers are having their best showing ever.

We’ve got 22 acres destined for birdseed in the fall, but, for now, come on out and enjoy the view.  We encourage you to take lots of photos and welcome you to share them with us on twitter @mbashelley.  If you do stop by, feel free to pull off the road and onto the grass to the left or our laneway.  As we are farmers, we often need to come in and our out laneway with large farm equipment so, having the laneway blocked is never ideal.

This past week was likely the peak for beauty and for traffic to the field.  We were honoured to host several maternity and engagement photo shoots in our sunflowers as well as lots of family portraits.  Our field was also featured on the “photo of the day” at 6:00 p.m. on CTV news.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to visit, please do so at your earliest convenience as the flowers will not be spectacular for much longer.  As always, we ask that you enjoy the sunflowers, without cutting or damaging them.  The flowers produce the seeds which are an integral part of our farm family bird seed business.

We have been overwhelmed by the genuine appreciation shown and expressed by our community.  We are proud of our place in agriculture and happy to share what we do, with you.

See you soon,

Harold & Shelley

Harshell Family Farm

Almonte, ON


Harshell Family Farm and Other Local Farms Struggling With the Weather in 2017

It’s no surprise to anyone that farmers are struggling in the Ottawa Valley.  Every time @YOW_Weather tweets that another weather record has been broken, it means more stress and frustration for area farmers.  After the 2016 drought in this region, area farmers never dreamt that they’d be struggling again in 2017, especially with such extreme opposite weather conditions.  Last year we couldn’t make it rain and this year we can’t make it stop!

Spring planting started later than usual, mostly due to extremely wet fields that weren’t able to drain.  For those, like us, farming along the Mississippi River, the fields had nowhere to drain since the tile drain outlets were below the river level.  Then came the rain … and it rained … and it rained … and it rained.

While homes and cottages were being damaged by high water levels in cities and towns, farmers’ livelihoods were being damaged by the same high water levels.  Once we did manage to get most of our acres planted, in less than ideal soil conditions, the rains continued and drowned out large areas of fields.  Corn, soybeans, spring wheat, malting barley, sunflowers, winter wheat, and winter rye, were all impacted by the wet conditions and continue to struggle today. While some parts of fields are completely devoid of plants, other parts are stunted to the point that harvesting crop will be difficult if not impossible.  Each time it rains, the puddles return to the fields and we can literally smell the crops rotting in the mud.  There are a few tiny glimmers of hope where some parts of a few fields appear to be unscathed.  There are also, within Eastern Ontario, a few regions where the weather has not been as much of an issue as here in the Municipality of Mississippi Mills.

Add to the delayed planting and damaged crops, the fact that timely application of herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides, all beneficial to producing the quality and quantity we strive for, was delayed or missed on many acres.   At this point, with harvest set to begin in the next couple of weeks, we keep our fingers crossed that we will be able to salvage a marketable product from the fields.

We are keenly aware that, while our crops are struggling on our farm, our neighbours are facing a huge challenge trying to make hay this year.  While most first cut would normally be completed in May/June, and second cut in July, many farmers have not even started to make hay in 2017.  The quality of hay that is coming off the fields at this point is poor due to over maturity and the fact that much of the hay has rotted in the bottom of the fields.  Livestock farmers are wondering how the low feed value will impact their dairy and beef production going forward and how they will balance rations to ensure production requirements are managed.  Horse farmers are desperately trying to find hay to meet their needs as well.

As I write this update for our website, I am pleased that many area farmers, businesses, and organizations recognize that farmers are frustrated and stressed and are lending an ear of concern for the industry.  As an industry we are proud and passionate and we always try to find the good in the bad.

For us, here at Harshell, the “good” is the fact that tomorrow will be the first of many days that 22 acres of sunflowers, at our farm on Martin Street North, will greet passersby with an amazing show of beauty.  There’s something quite fulfilling, as a farmer, in knowing that so much joy, can be brought to so many people, just by sharing the beauty of what we do.

If you’re in the area, please feel free to drop by our farm and take some pictures.  We’d be more than happy if you wanted to share your photos with us on twitter @mbashelley or @haroldmcphail.  You can also email us info@harshellfarm.com.

Thanks for now and wish us good luck and good weather for the rest of 2017.

Harold & Shelley

“Harshell” Delivers Malting Barley to Barn Owl Malt

We are excited that we have made our first delivery of Newdale Malting Barley to Barn Owl Malt at Belleville.


Devin and Leslie are a keen young couple with incredible work ethic and excellent marketing skills.  They’ve made their mark on the craft brewery scene with their malt being used in over 25 Ontario breweries already.

We wish them great success as they work to grow and secure their place in the Ontario Craft Brewery industry.

Harold & Shelley


Harshell Enterprises Does Well at Ottawa Valley Farm Show

That’s a wrap!  Another Ottawa Valley Farm Show is complete and our small family farm did well again this year.

Judging of the Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec Championship Seed Show took place at Greely on March 11th.  Harshell entries, in several categories, placed well and were then displayed at the Court of Honour at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show from March 14-16 at the EY Centre.

Harshell took first place in canola, 2 row malting barley, sunflower seed, and the sheaf of wheat.  We are very pleased with the results and look forward to next year’s show.

We are especially pleased with our first place showing in 2 row malting barley because, we are entering the “malt” market for the very first time, in 2017. A craft “maltster” will be malting our Newdale Barley and then marketing it back to approximately 20 craft breweries from all over Ontario.   The maltster feels that our Ottawa Valley terroir, will add the perfect colour and flavour to his IPA malt.  Terroir is flavour from soil, climate, seed, and farmer which influences the flavour of food/beverage.  

Also, our Harshell Birdseed, which had a fantastic launch on the local birdseed market, through Levi Home Hardware this past winter, can now be distinguished as containing  Ottawa Valley’s First Prize Black Oil Sunflower Seed.  Look for that added piece on next year’s bird seed bags.  Small wonder the local birds love our bird seed!

A huge thanks to all our local customers who have supported our bird seed enterprise.  It is rewarding to be producing an excellent quality bird seed, for the local market, and receiving such positive feedback.  Watch for this year’s sunflower crop, at the end of our lane-way, and feel free to stop by and take some photos.


Harold and Shelley



Birdseed Now Available – Your Local Birdseed Supplier Located at Almonte

Looking for the perfect “fresh and local” Christmas gift?

At Harshell Family Farm  we have the freshest, most local, bird seed you can buy.  Straight from our fields to your feeders, local birds love our products.

We offer 35 lb bags of black oil sunflower seed and 40 lb bags of our “field to feeder” mix which is sunflower, corn, wheat, and flax.

Stop by the farm at 6443 Martin Street North, Almonte or call/text us at 613-978-4464. Volume discount and delivery available for large orders.

New this year, we have partnered with Levi Home Hardware, in Almonte, to have our birdseed available for purchase there.  While at Levi’s you might want to also pick up a   new bird feeder, or a steel garbage can to store your seed.

We are proud to be a local farm family, producing a local product, for the discerning consumer who is looking to support the “local” movement. We are also proud to partner with Levi Home Hardware, another local, family business, in our community.

All the best of the season, from our family to yours. Happy birding!

Harold & Shelley