South Glengarry farm with yurt planning expansion

Eleanor McGrath, owner of Springfield Farm, shows South Glengarry council a picture of her organic corn which is 18 feet tall. Springfield Farm has asked for a property rezoning to allow for sleeping accommodations for up to 25 people. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LANCASTER – A South Glengarry farm, which already has a yurt on site, is planning its next chapter for tourists looking to get away from it all and experience agri-tourism.

Springfield Farm near Apple Hill on County Road 25 was recently the subject of a public meeting to consider rezoning the property to allow for “overnight accommodations” for up to 25 people.

“We love this property. We know that this area has so much to offer and we want to be part of a dynamic community,” Eleanor McGrath said. Three generations of her New England family started coming to the area three decades ago.

“We want people to come and feel calm and enjoy and take away what they need to take. We want that feeling of beauty to be there and resonate with people,” McGrath explained about the proposed building – a 16-by-20 foot barn with large windows overlooking the grounds.

The rezoning is only the first step in the venture as the McGraths are applying for building permits if the rezoning is approved.

Springfield Farm, which has three out buildings already, focuses on organic and non-GMO farming and is also doing a “field to table” food experience. It’s been in operation since 2014.

But not everybody is happy about the entrepreneur’s plans – especially neighbours.

Neighbour Deborah Defreitas called the proposal a “radical change” for an area that’s mostly rural and agriculture. She is worried about noise, more traffic and “decreased privacy” saying the change is “not a good fit” for a “busy enterprise in a quiet, rural area.”

“We have received many written comments in opposition and in support of the proposed amendments. We may in the future have to schedule a meeting between the applicants and the abutting property owners to discuss the concerns,” South Glengarry Planner Joanne Haley told council.

As part of this process, the township will also consider adding agri-tourism as an automatic permitted use on rural zoned land.

The rezoning will come to South Glengarry council sometime in the next month or so for final approval.