Pine Farms has been a home and an adventure for our family for more than half a century. We're proud to be part of the history of the Oak Ridges Moraine, and we welcome you to be part of our community's ongoing story!
It started with a log cabin:
In 1942 Ernie and Mary Rolph purchased 100 acres of pine forested land in King Township now known as Pine Farms Orchard. While living and working in Toronto the family would come up for family outings. Soon a small log cabin complete with a wood stove was built, as well as a summer cottage for Grace, Ernie’s widowed mother. King was still primarily rural farmland then. The 16th sideroad was a dead-end road only passable on foot, by horse, or with a tractor. The roads were dirt and seldom graded — they were dusty in the summer, muddy in the spring, and snow-bound in winter. But the land was beautiful, wildlife plentiful, and friendly local families were always willing to help when needed.
In the mid 1940’s flower and vegetable gardens were begun, rocks and stumps dynamited to clear fields (rock piles are still seen around the perimeter of the orchard), a crop of potatoes was planted and logs were stockpiled for house building. It was at this time it became a full time home for Ernie and Mary. Their sons Tony and Hugh were in boarding schools at the time. Tony at Upper Canada College and Hugh following Ernie’s footsteps at St. Andrew’s College (which would have made for some interesting family conversations of the friendly yet rival schools!). Mary spent much of her time coping with preserving and freezing the extraordinary amount of produce that came out of Ernie’s vegetable garden. Ernie never did anything by half!
Apples arrive on the scene:
In the late 1940’s Ernie had become interested in apples and, with extensive research and advice from government agencies both in Vineland, Ontario and in England he began the planting of a dwarf tree espalier apple orchard in 1948. He was a pioneer in Ontario for what is now a widely accepted form of apple culture and this business and hobby was a passion for the rest of his life.
The apples that were harvested were taken to the food terminal in Toronto and sold to the Toronto community as well as local customers in King. Many local young adults and adults alike helped in the maintenance of gardens and orchard as well as the harvest of the fruit.
After his death in 1977 John and Margaret Smithyes who were local farmers and consultants for Ernie leased the orchard from Mary and assisted by preserving and maintaining the apple orchard. They ran the business as a pick-your-own orchard and began school tours. John and Margaret ran the orchard until their retirement in 1997.
Pine Farms becomes a family business — and a family tradition:
By that time, Ernie and Mary’s grand-daughter Pam was living on the property with her young family. She was an avid gardener and enjoyed working the land, growing gourds, flowers and vegetables. Soon, she began to prune the family apple trees as well, and the stage was set for Pine Farms Orchard's next era.
One day Pam was giving daughter Chloe and friends a birthday tractor ride around the orchard. Sitting on the wagon, the kids began to ask questions: “Who will look after the orchard now?” “Who will run the operation?”
Pam said, “Well I would like to!”, and the rest is Pine Farms history. Since 1998 Pam has run the operation. Her husband Elliott is now the Orchard Manager, their daughter Chloe is the Store Manager and Chloe's husband Robin is the Farm Manager. Pam and Elliott's son Aidan is currently experiencing life out West but helps out when he's at home.
A small family run business!
It's now not only a pick-your-own and ready-picked apple orchard, but a country café, gift shop, bake shop, that's open year round.