SOUTH DUNDAS – Living in a rural area the Farm to Table concept is definitely not new. For generations people here have kept gardens to grow their own food to feed their families.
However, while many still keep and enjoy their own gardens, for some, it’s simply not feasible for a plethora of reasons.
While it may not be feasible for everyone to grow or even prepare their own food, there are many area agricultural businesses with that farm to table mindset. They offer products and produce that provide an amazing opportunity for people to feed their families in a way that harkens back to times when families were fully self-sustaining.
While it does take some time and effort to shop for local items sourced through local vendors, those who make a habit of it, tend to enjoy the experience. There’s something really special about buying food right where it is produced. It provides a level of connection to the farmer that is often lost in the supermarket experience.
For those looking for that special farm buying experience there are several options and opportunities available locally.
While Dentz Orchards and Berry Farm, located north of Iroquois, has been doing this since well before it was trendy, they still offer a quaint experience that people love. Their Pick-Your-Own berries experience draw people from throughout the region who love to enjoy a special activity with their children.
In recent years new market farms have cropped up in several areas, one example being Gar-Eden Farms. “Grown without chemicals and lots of love,” this family farm just west of Chesterville offers a great selection of seasonal vegetables and herbs along with a welcoming and friendly farm visit. They also do beef and pork bulk orders.
Rijke’s Produce Farm, located along County Road 2, heading west out of Morrisburg got their new location up and running in time for this season and are reporting that so much goodness is being picked from the field right now. This week they have beautiful sunflowers, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, beans, green onions, radishes, lettuce, kale, cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, fresh herbs, carrots, fresh garlic. All home grown.
The Upper Canada Creamery not only offers great organic cheese, yogurt, milk and ice cream products, a visit to their on-farm store is offers a peaceful experience. There you can purchase such specialty items as cream top milk and fresh curd to enjoy at home and have a bit of frozen yogurt or ice cream on-site while overlooking fields of cows that produced the milk featured in those products.
Honey is another great product to source locally with many different options available. Smirlholm Farms of Morewood maintains a small non-commercialized, sustainable apiary so that the family-run operation can oversee all its hives. Their bees forage on alfalfa, sweet clover, sunflowers, and several species of wildflowers native to Dundas county. This allows them to produce a high quality honey with exceptional taste and aroma unique to this region.
Another interesting honey option is African Bronze Honey. The founders of African Bronze Honey, who now reside in Cardinal, lived in Zimbabwe for eight years. They formed a partnership with the Zambian-Canadian Ecopreneur to help one of the least developed areas of Africa through forest beekeeping which involved collecting honey from wild African bees. The social enterprise works with African beekeeping projects to market their sustainably harvested, 100 per cent natural forest honey.
It is possible to get that farm to table experience with one-stop-shopping thanks to the many market options available in summer throughout the region.
Williamsburg Country Market operates Sundays 10 a.m until 2 p.m. at Jay’s Tires. It features roughly 30 local handmade and homegrown vendors
Another new market is Winchester’s Garden Party Market. Located at The Planted Arrow and St. Paul’s Church in Winchester, the Garden Party Market next taking place July 24, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will feature items from an array of local artisans.
Farm to Table is taken to a whole new level at Stone Crop Acres Winery and Vineyard. Here, the event centre and patio are situated at the Vineyard. Walk amongst the growing grapes, then sit on the patio to taste their many varieties of wine and cider. This year they added more food options to the menu and their choices show just how important local food is to the whole Stone Crop Acres Experience. Stone Fired pizzas feature local cheeses, nacho plates feature locally made tortilla chips, wines feature locally grown grapes, ciders feature locally sourced apples.
Consumers making the choice to shop local, to shop farm-fresh – and to shop mindfully – means the world to small producers. Their livelihoods literally depend on it.