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Flip through photos of Bushgarden Farm, and you’ll see a deep, unmistakable love and commitment to family, animals and land.

Nigel Smith’s family have been farming in the Village of Elgin, Ontario, since the 1820s. The farm has always been home to a small dairy herd, but it was in 2006 that the farm achieved organic certification. A mixture of Brown Swiss and Holstein cows reside blissfully on the farm, dining on luscious fields of alfalfa and red clover. Nigel and his family grow hay, oats, peas, corn and sorghum-sudan grass without using any synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. The lucky herd spends its days in Bushgarden Farms’ idyllic pasture, and is escorted to the barn every morning and evening. An essential part of Nigel’s commitment to care is not using hormones and antibiotics on his herd. These must be the luckiest and most loved cows in Ontario!

In 2011, Nigel and Bob Smith rolled up their sleeves and built a small cheese studio by hand with home-grown lumber. From there, Nigel was able to fully realize his dream of becoming a cheese producer. Nigel produces raw milk cheeses – the first to be made in Ontario in decades. Depending on their diet and time of year, the herd’s milk changes with the seasons. Nigel is mindful of these changes to the milk when making cheese, and his cheese expresses the natural characteristics of the milk his cows produce. Four milkings are combined to make one batch of delicious cheese. Cheese is made in small batches and aged between 60-120 days. At Mrs. McGarrigle’s, we currently carry:

Nauvoo: An aged, traditional Elgin Cheese. Named after the Mormon settlement that later became known as the Village of Elgin, Nauvoo means “a beautiful place.”

Pilgrimage: So named as a homage to Nigel’s decade-long journey to cheese-making on his family farm on Bush Road. Pilgrimage, a gouda-style cheese, is the first raw cow’s milk cheese made in Ontario in many decades.

Garlic and Tomato – This is Nigel’s signature Pilgrimage gouda, seasoned with the complimentary flavours of garlic and tomato.

Caraway – This too is classic Bushgarden Farm Pilgrimage, seasoned with nutty, bittersweet caraway spice.

Mrs. McGarrigle’s “Meet the Maker” series celebrates local food producers who care about making high-quality food products with locally and/or ethically sourced ingredients. We are proud to carry these products at Mrs. McGarrigle’s and to uplift our local economy.