We're excited to introduce the Bell family- Brent, Kristina, Paisley (5), Willow (almost 4), River (1), Luna the sheepdog, and their lovely hens. Together, they operate Upside Downie Homestead, a new addition to the Municipality of West Elgin!
With urban origins in London and Toronto, Brent and Kristina bring valuable experience in senior Mechanical Engineering leadership and the non-profit and education sectors to the new business. Brent calls Kristina the visionary of Upside Downie as the premise of the business is built upon the things she loves most of all- community, the arts, nature/gardening, and curating an inclusive and cheerful place for people to learn, connect, and recharge.
During the pandemic, the family lived in London. They had always dreamed about living in 'wide open spaces' and watching their children grow among nature. Kristina had always wanted to have space to explore her passions for gardening, art, and teaching centred on community building. Brent could envision himself riding a tractor and having the space to tinker, design and build. On a random Tuesday night, a good friend sent them a text message simply saying, "I found your dream property". They went to see what is now Upside Downie Homestead the very next day.
Being the conservative and risk-cautious engineer he is, Brent maintained a healthy reluctance to leave the home the family had just renovated and take a gamble on a 140-year-old farmhouse on 2 acres in a town they had never heard of. However, when Kristina asked, “is our comfort worth more than our wildest dreams?” the path forward seemed much clearer. The couple purchased what was then the Morrison Homestead, sold their house, and began building their dream in August of 2020. Since then, they’ve done a full re-design of the gardens, a restorative renovation on the beautiful century old farmhouse, built a custom greenhouse (“The Dreamhouse”), chicken coop (“The West Wing”) playground for the kids (“Where the Wild Ones Play”), two new porches and have been working to preserve the beautiful old orchard and the century-old silver maples. Oh, and they also had another baby, little River, who just turned one.
The goal was always to develop an inclusive and welcoming gathering space- a magical place for the community to learn, connect and escape. Upside Downie is that place. From workshops rooted in the arts, nature & gardening to photography opportunities to wellness and mom-to-be retreats and private special events and fundraisers, they want to ensure that every guest of Upside Downie feels welcome and leaves having experienced the grounding magic of the place. Over the coming months, they hope to establish themselves as a destination for visitors from across Elgin and beyond.
The family is enjoying rural living so far and look forward to sharing their property with the public. They've already got some programming in the works and are forming a Women's Group- more details on that can be found here: https://www.upsidedownie.ca/women-s-group
They're also looking to run some youth and parent-tot programs that are adjacent to other workshops (based in the arts, nature, gardening, and play). Congratulations to the Bell family, we can't wait to see what they accomplish with Upside Downie Homestead!
Upside Downie Homestead
24824 Downie Line, West Lorne, ON
226-376-5449 | firstname.lastname@example.org