Who: Food writers, dieticians and home economists
What: Ontario Agriculture Week Farm Tour
Where: Norfolk County, Simcoe
When: October 8, 2015
Why: Tour 3 Ontario Farms for Ontario Agriculture Week and #loveONTfood
I spent a glorious sunny fall day in the country this week visiting 3 Ontario Farms thanks to the partnership between Farm & Food Care Ontario and Foodland Ontario and the generosity of local farmers.
This is an event scheduled to coincide with Ontario Agriculture Week October 5 to 11, 2015.
|Ambrosia apples from Schuyler Farms|
We arrived at about 8am and there was a table set up in the parking lot with muffins, scones, apples and tea and coffee. Then we boarded the buses and departed for our 3 farm tour.
We toured Berlo's Best, Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery and Schuyler Farms Ltd.
|Berlo's Best Farm|
|Peter Van Berlo & son|
Our delicious local lunch Menu:
- Warm Norfolk Apple Cider spiked with Maple Vodka
- Grasslands meats longhorn beef Corndog Bites with grainy mustard and smoked tomato ketchup
- Sprouts for Life Kale Cups, black kale, radish, fennel, black peanuts with Pristine gourmet dressing
- Norfolk Caprese Salad with Sovereign Farm heirloom tomatoes, Pristine gourmet olive oil and Fior de latte
- Local pickles, asparagus, cauliflower and garlic scapes
- Housemade Focaccia served with Pristine gourmet oil and vinegar
- Grilled Y U Ranch Longhorn Beef with Burning Kiln Winery jus
- Caja China Leg of Lamb from Schuyler Farms with stuffing and lavender jus
- Berlo's sweet potato casserole with Jensen cheddar and toasted Ontario pecans
- Warm Spiced Norfolk golden beets
- Bonnieheath lavender beignet, salted chocolate dipped beignet with lavender pastry cream
Everything was fantastic, I think my favourite things were the sweet potato casserole and the tender beef and of course the beignet hit the dessert sweet spot.
The last stop was Schuyler Farms Ltd.. Also family owned and run and we were hosted by newly married couple Brett and Carrie Schuyler. It's Brett and his whole family that owns and takes care of all of the aspects of the Sheep, Apple, Cherry and Grain crops. The farm is over 150 years old and they have about 3000 acres. It has also gone through modifications and modernizations. They employ 100 seasonal workers and 6 full time workers. They are very concerned with sustainable practices and use about 2,000 to 3,000 tons of compost. Their Sheep live in an open field and are protected by an electric fence and 2 well trained guard dogs that live outside with the sheep. They are bread for this job and their thick coats allow them to be outside in the winter. They have another Irish dog named Dell that lives with Carrie a certified Sheep Herder who works with Dell to round up all the sheep. It's an amazing sight to see them in action.
We learned so much about all of the individual farmers practices and how they had to adapt to the challenging farm market by creating new equipment or extending retail products to their operations or just rotating different crops. The Ginseng for example can't be replanted in the same spot after harvesting it.
Farming is difficult work and there are no guarantees that the weather will cooperate and a crop will be successful. It's a calculated gamble for some farmers that have had to be smart to stay afloat.
We were given so much information that if I wrote about all of it in this post you wouldn't be able to read it all. I encourage you to think about doing a Farm tour if you are able to and meet the farmers and see how your food is grown and processed and thank them for what they do. Without them you would sit down to your dinner table with nothing on it.
Think about eating Local this week and as much as you can year round. It's a good thing for you, it's a good thing for the local economy and it's a great thing for the environment.
I picked up a bag of Berlo's Best sweet potatoes and I have one roasting for my dinner right now and it smells fantastic. They are sold to Sobeys and also small bags at FreshCo so see if you can find some.
For more information:
Berlo's Best Sweet Potatoes www.berlosbest.com
Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery www.bonnieheathestate.com
Schuyler Farms Ltd. www.schuylerfarms.ca
Foodland Ontario www.foodland.gov.on.ca/english
Farm & Food Care Ontario www.farmfoodcare.org
To see more photos from our farm day tour on twitter and instagram check out #loveONTfood
Disclaimer* The tour and lunch were complimentary but all photos and opinions are my own.
|Berlo's Best sweet potatoes|