What’s New

“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

Ottawa Valley’s LOCAL Bird Seed Company

At Harshell, just outside of Almonte, in the Ottawa Valley, we are producing “local food for local birds”.  Since “local” is all the rage, we thought it might be time to hop on that train of thought and promote the fact that we are a local farm family, growing and bagging our own line of sunflower seed, as well as our “farmer’s mix” bird seed.  It doesn’t get more local than this.

From our fields to your feeders, it’s hard to argue with the preference your back yard birds have for our great products.  After all, those same birds were feeding in our fields until the crops were harvested. Now, we are able to offer you that same quality seed, as we begin bagging and selling local bird seed, for our second year.

Black oil sunflower seed is flying out the door in 35 lb bags.  We guarantee that this is 100% 2016 crop and so, you will be feeding nice plump sunflower seed that is fresh from the field and not empty shells due to issues with carry over inventory you may purchase at retailers.

As well, we offer a “farmer’s mix” which contains 50% black oil sunflower, cracked and whole corn, whole wheat, and flax seed which has a high oil content for the little birds.  100% of the content is local and this line of seed was a huge success last winter as well.

Bird seed is available here at the farm and it’s always best to call or text before coming to make a purchase. 613-978-4464

Also check back soon as we finalize a deal to have our products carried exclusively at a local retailer.  It’s a win/win/win where one family business supports another family business and you, the consumer, have access to an excellent, completely local product.

Shop Local, Buy Local, Support Local.

That’s a Wrap for 2016 Harvest

To say that 2016 was a “challenging” year, here at Harshell, would be an understatement. The drought that made the news in our region was devastating for the crops and prompted us to come up with a tag line … “2016…. the year of 100% expenses for 50% income”.

With the diversity of crops we grow, 9 in total, and the fact that our crops are grown on 9 different farms, one would think/hope that the drought impact would spare some fields.  As it turns out, the lack of rain impacted all crops severely, and the rain station located at the end of our lane-way, supports that analysis.  Not many people watch the weather as closely as farmers do, but many hours were spent staring at the app for the weather network on our phones, watching satellite images of rain storm fronts actually splitting and going around us.  A few kilometres in any direction from our farms, might receive 2″ of rain, while we would receive scarcely a drop on many occasions. We have for sale, one barely used rain gage.

We should have known it was going to be a challenging year when we started out with a crop insurance claim for an 8 acre field of winter wheat which was completed destroyed by Canada Geese.  The field, located along the Mississippi River, was the perfect breeding and feeding ground for several thousand geese in the early spring.  The shear number of geese, feeding on the little wheat shoots, left the crop unable to get a good start and so, we had to write the wheat crop off.  Sunflowers were planted into that field which provided a picturesque crop for those traversing the Mississippi River by water craft during summer 2016.  The field was not visible from any roadway and so, the beauty was enjoyed by only a handful on the river, between Almonte and Blakeney, and by our family while sitting on our dock across the river from the sunflower field.  It’s the little things that keep it real and an 8 acre field of gorgeous yellow blooms, is a spectacle to be appreciated always.

All the crops have now been harvested and this year it seemed to take a very long time to get the harvest done.  We started with winter wheat and malting barley in August, canola, red clover, and millet in September, soybeans in October, and corn in November.  We also harvested a bit of hay in July and September, as well as our sunflowers in November. Our sunflower crop, with one field on the river and one field visible along Martin Street North, was also disappointing as the local birds feasted on an “all you can eat buffet” before we were ready to harvest the seeds.

In preparation for 2017 we have 27 ares of winter rye and 56 acres of winter wheat already in the ground.  Here’s hoping the Canada Geese head south and don’t come back until our rye and wheat get growing well in the spring of 2017.  The crops are all tucked in, under a blanket of snow, as I type this page.

As always, we appreciate your visits and feedback.  We do the work we do because we love it and we will be back in 2017, with an optimistic outlook and our ever popular road signs to keep you “Ag Aware” in the Almonte area.

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and much good fortune in 2017.

Harold and Shelley and family

Whole Grains 101

It’s a very good day – I learned something! Glutinous is not the same as glutenous!!!

While doing a little research on millet, since that’s a brand new crop for us at Harshell in 2016, our son directed us to “The Serious Eats Guide to Whole Grains”.

Have you ever tried to explain to someone that not all grains contain gluten, or what the difference is between regular vs “whole grain” bread, or how white flour differs from whole wheat flour?

All great questions and we are always happy to try to make sense of it all, to the interested non farmer.  Admittedly though, it is a little confusing – even for life long farmers.

Check out this website – it’s a very good read.  Amaranth or oats … quinoa or  rye … and what about coixseed (Job’s Tears) …. all you need to know about 14 different “grains”.


Oh … and back to the millet … we launched a new enterprise in 2016 and began bagging our very own black oil sunflower seed as well as a “farmer’s mix” wild bird seed.  We grew absolutely

every ingredient and mixed seed will include millet for the winter of 2016-17.  Check back in the fall and we will have an update on the birdseed business.

Road side signs are going up soon.  Take a drive along Martin Street North, Almonte, to get your “Ag-education” after mid May.
Thanks for checking in.







“License to Farm” Documentary Reaffirms Why We Love to Farm

Took some time this afternoon and we watched the newly released License to Farm documentary.  Congratulations to all involved in the production of this incredible and poignant video.

As farmers, we all love what we do … and we do what we love because we are a proud and passionate group, who are charged with feeding the world.

It’s not a job we take lightly.  We know that, beyond our farm gate, when we are done feeding our families, we are also feeding the masses.  We conscientiously produce the highest quality products we can, utilizing the latest technology and innovation available to us.

We are the stewards of this great land, and when our generation is done with our work, the next generation will carry on …. using innovation and technology to alsoproduce some of the highest quality food in the world.  They too will wake each morning with pride and passion for the job they face and also go to bed each night knowing that they have done their very best to help feed the world, while utilizing sustainable farming practises on the family farm.

Check our License to Farm at:





The Great Ontario Clean Farms Challenge – Harshell Farms wins 3rd Prize

In the fall of 2015 we were humbled and  honoured to be named the 3rd prize winner of The Great Ontario Clean Farms Challenge.

Read our story by visiting;

Click to access Winner03HaroldandShelleyMcPhail_forweb.pdf


Read the press release here:

Ontario farmers recognized for their commitment to good end of life stewardship November 11, 2015 – Canada’s leading agricultural stewardship organization, CleanFARMS has announced the winners of The Great Ontario Clean Farms Challenge, an awards program that profiles Ontario farmers who go above and beyond when it comes to managing waste generated on their farms.

Click to access Cleanfarmschallengewinners_Nov112015.pdf


Home grown, Fresh, and Local Birdseed – New To Harshell Farm

Harshell Fresh and Local Bird Seed

As we resign ourselves to the fact that winter has arrived here at Harshell Farm, we are happy to announce that our local birds love our newest product … bird seed.

In 2015, for the first time, we grew sunflowers and flax.  The feedback was incredible as these beautiful crops took on their vibrant colours … stunning sunflower yellow and gorgeous flax blue.

Photographers loved the opportunity to capture the beauty while friends, neighbours, and strangers greatly admired the transformation of the fields to a kaleidoscope of colours.

In the fall, the flax and sunflower crops were harvested and the abundance of seed was stored for our newest enterprise.  Yes, we’ve added a new piece to our much diversified farming operation.

We are now offering completely homegrown birdseed for our local feathered friends.  Thirty pound bags of black oil sunflower seeds, and 40 pound bags of our “Farmers Blend” bird seed are available for purchase at the farm.

The “Farmers Blend” contains 50% black oil sunflower, along with whole and cracked corn, cracked oats, whole wheat, and whole flax.

We can’t keep our feeders full as the cardinals, doves, pigeons, buntings, blue jays, chickadees, wood peckers, turkeys, and crows feast daily.

If you are out our way, you can also spend some time watching a flock of approximately 100 wild turkeys cleaning up the leftover seed in the field where we harvested the sunflowers.  They are comical to watch as they flit around, seeking out and attacking random sunflower heads.  It might be the cheapest therapy you’ll find to cure the January doldrums.

Take a drive on Martin Street North, Almonte and see for yourself.  If you are interested in purchasing homegrown, fresh, and local food for your bird feeders, contact us and we will arrange a time to meet.
Thanks for now.  Snuggle up and stay warm.


Harold & Shelley


Spectacular Sunflowers!

Sunflower closeup

Sunflower in bloom!

Take a drive on Martin Street North, to harshellfarm.com, in the Almonte area, and you will be amazed by the beauty … 7 acres of sunflowers just bursting with yellow and buzzing with bees.

Over the past couple of weeks we have watched our sunflower fields begin to bloom, burst into full colour, and now, sadly, begin to lose their brilliant yellow petals.  Look closely though …. There are many flowers just reaching their peak.

Since it is our first year to grow sunflowers on this scale, we have been anxiously watching the transformation from tiny sunflower seeds to 4-5 foot high plants with flower heads in all sizes.

While we have been enjoying the view, so have many of our neighbours, friends, and local photographers.  We are proud of our family farm and it makes us very happy to see cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, joggers, motorcyclists, tractors, and even airplanes slow to have a closer look.  We have seen as many as 5 cars at one time taking pictures of the sunflowers and yesterday we saw a family setting up with a tri-pod to take a family portrait.

As I sit to write this blog post, I have just had a chat with a lovely young lady from Ottawa, who called to ask permission to have her engagement pictures taken in our sunflower fields.  We are humbled by this request and more than happy to oblige.  Congratulations Asal and Mark!

Although most of the yellow will soon disappear, the plants will continue to put effort into producing the bounty of sunflower seeds which will be available later in the season as bird seed.   We also plan to try small batch sunflower oil production so stayed tuned for our progress.

Check back often for progress on our other crops. We are very close to beginning the harvest of the hard red winter wheat and so, our road way will be a very busy place.  The combine will be in the fields, the tractor and wagon will be hauling the wheat to our farm yard, where the wheat will be augured into our tractor trailer for delivery to its next stop.  Next, a tractor and large square baler will arrive to bale the straw (the refuge from the wheat plant).  The large square bales of straw will be sold for use in vegetable gardens, and as bedding for animals.

Thanks for visiting harshellfarm.com and we will post another update soon.