Cheryl Casselman’s Hutt on Morganston

A welcome roadside stop for fresh prepared food, soaps and homemade crafts

Article by Al Rivett/above image by Al Rivett

A debilitating injury two years ago served as the watershed moment where Cheryl Casselman and her family started making changes to their lives.

One of those changes included creating a cottage business — The Hutt on Morganston — based out of her husband’s fish hut that sits at the end of the family’s driveway in Cramahe Township near the corner of Mount Pleasant and Morganston roads.

Casselman recalls that time vividly when she was laid up with a torn Achilles heel tendon in 2018 that stopped her in her tracks. It allowed her the time to stop and reflect and, most of all, make some necessary changes to her life and to her family’s.

“My husband (Jimmy) cared for me and in this time we started re-evaluating our lives,” said Casselman. “Jimmy is Ojibway and has a strong connection to Mother Earth. He started pointing out the amount of plastic used in our home as he was grocery shopping and cooking, and thus we started making changes within our family.” 

“We were all looking at how we lived and we decided we wanted to become more sustainable on the earth.”

Some of those changes including making homemade soaps and getting rid of shampoo and cream rinse bottles in exchange for homemade shampoo bars and cider vinegar. Laundry soap in plastic containers were replaced by Borax. Casselman also started making her own toothpaste. 

Image by Al Rivett

The newfound push for sustainability within her family led to starting the farmgate business “The Hutt on Morganston”  in March of last year just as the COVID-19 pandemic started to proliferate in Ontario.

“I dragged my husband’s ice hut to the front of the driveway and started by selling my handmade soaps, knitted items and eggs out of there. That first year while we were all in lockdown the neighbours and their three girls started selling arts and crafts out of the Hutt.

“It has kept us going through the pandemic — a place where friends and neighbours could come and go without bumping into anyone yet still be connected and inspired.”

Many may know Casselman as a singer/songwriter who has not only made records, but has also performed at various events throughout Northumberland County. She said it is this need to create that has followed her into the making of sustainable products.

“I am a creator at heart. I get that from my mother. Whether I’m creating a song, a new pair of knitted socks or a needle-felted mouse, creating something that was never there before is beyond uplifting for me. Creating a piece of art using my own materials that we have grown or even better upcycled, makes us feel like we really can make a difference.”

The Hutt inspired the family to continue on its sustainability path by purchasing several chickens that are fed only organic feed and buying a spinning wheel to make yarn from the sheep that were also purchased for the small farm on an acre-and-a-half of land.

“Two of us in the family have gone full-on vegetarian,” said Casselman. “We have installed solar in the barn and outbuildings and started selling organic vegetables from the farm gate. We started microgreens in the basement. We invested in a distiller and began distilling our own cedar for essential oil and hydrosol water to use in making our soaps and creams.”

This year, said Casselman, is the first year the family’s sheep will be sheared and the wool will be sold, with the sheep’s manure used to replenish the soil on the farm.

“The farming practises used here are the Ruth Stout method — no til and raised beds and no pesticides,” she said. As members of Blue Dot Northumberland, it is important for Jimmy and Cheryl to grow food without the use of chemicals that can harm the water and soil. “We hope to encourage our governments to look at ways to farm that are more sustainable for future generations.”

Casselman said the family has also started a lavender field with the help of its neighbours.

Moreover, Casselman said her husband’s roofing business is hoping to one day transition to cedar shakes as it is a renewable resource.

“We look forward to the years ahead. We know we have a long way to go ourselves, but our goal to leave less of a footprint is one step closer,” she said.

TAParchive image: Cheryl Casselman performing during Apple Blossom Tyme several years ago

Cheryl Casselman is set to perform and display and sell some of her wool items at a festival next month.

She will be showing and selling some of her knitted goods at the Keene Centre for the Arts Fibre Festival over the Easter long weekend, April 3 and 4. 

Casselman will also be performing at the festival, singing and playing guitar to some of her original material as well as many other country and folk favourites.

Admission is $5. All COVID-19 protocols will be in effect.

The Keene Centre for the Arts is at 12 1st Street in Keene.

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