View down a snowy trail at Ken Reid Conservation Area

Meet the Makers: Mariposa Woolen Mill & Farm Market

Mariposa Woolen Mill & Farm Market co-owner Ellen Edney

The question “What do you?” is easier for some people to answer than others. For owner of Mariposa Woolen Mill & Farm Market Ellen Edney, and manager Karyn Boyd, giving a comprehensive answer takes a little extra time. “There’s the Mariposa Woolen Mill and the Farm Market, so we have two different kinds of things happening on the same property,” Edney says. “The farm market is more the retail side of things, offering the location for different artisanal products, foods, local produce, that kind of thing, as well as incorporating agritourism into the farm life here.” The retail business and suite of events offered by Mariposa year-round, however, are in addition to the day-to-day operation of the woolen mill. “We produce all-Canadian product made with Canadian wool, so we do everything from washing other people’s fibres for custom work, to finishing yarns, rovings, that kind of thing… Yeah, we have a lot going on.”

Both the woolen mill and market are located at 1275 Highway 7, just outside Lindsay. The property has been in Edney’s (née Vanderberg) family since the mid-eighties, though its purpose has evolved away from its origins as a dairy farm. Restless creative energy is something Edney seems to share with Boyd, who joined the team in January 2020. “We did a tulip festival, which we’ll do again in 2022,” Boyd says, adding to the list of Mariposa’s offerings. “We did a Fall Palooza where we had a pumpkin patch and corn maze, and then in the works right now we have a Christmas event, Christmas at Mariposa.”

Boyd says she’s happy to work on community-minded agritourism projects, but she’s also found herself unexpectedly covering online fronts as well. “I was only here a couple months when the world shut down,” she says. “But Ellen was great and you know, we worked through it during the very scary bits of COVID at the beginning. I designed a website and we got online. Obviously last year for every business, but particularly small businesses, it was like, how do you pivot to remain successful and to survive?”

Closeup of a wall of differently coloured balls of yarn and provided convenient locations to post info and updates, supplementing Mariposa’s existing Etsy store where artistically minded products are available for order. “Everyone was kind of stuck at home, so lots of people were taking up knitting and needle felting,” Boyd says. By pairing felting kits with a series of YouTube tutorials, the pair were able to create a complete package with the feel of one-on-one instruction.

“We’ve put more energy into the felting kit,” Edney adds, but notes that the Kawartha Box is one of the initiatives she’s most proud of. “The Kawartha Box is all about supporting small businesses and then supporting charity.” A few different varieties of Kawartha Box are available at the farm market and on the dedicated website, but the central concept remains the same: to assemble a collection of locally produced goods and then offer 5% of the proceeds to charity. The charity of choice rotates or can be selected by the customer; previous recipients include A Place Called Home, Women’s Resources, and The Humane Society.

The contents of the boxes themselves are equally diverse, including items such as local maple syrup, honey, preserves, candles, mugs, hot chocolate, and tea towels. Apart from being sourced locally, Edney says the unifying element is household practicality: “it’s nice to have something practical that’s locally made that everyone can enjoy.”

With so much else going on, it’s impressive that Mariposa maintains a fully operational woolen mill on the property. Located in the former milking room from the farm’s dairy days, the mill processes both custom orders and wool from the farm’s own flock. It’s typically open for self-guided tours, though it had closed for the winter season at the time of writing. “We have different stages written out to read along the guided pathway. So a lot of the times what you come to see is the different machinery working, the girls doing a few things at once,” Edney says.

Eager to return to prepping for their Christmas event, Edney and Boyd take a moment to reflect on whether they’ve answered the question “What do you do?” Edney speaks first. “The main parts are we’re trying to offer the locals family-oriented events. We focus on local artisans and produce and Ontario stuff all in the shop,” she pauses. “Yeah, I think that’s a good summary.”

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Are you enjoying our Meet the Makers series? Please consider supporting the small businesses in your community this winter, as they rely on our support now more than ever. Reinvesting in our communities allows our hard-working artisans continue doing what they love – and allows us to continue enjoying the beauty they create.

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