Goldsmith's Orchard Market and Farm: From their Farm to Your Table
Walking into Goldsmith’s Orchard Market, I’m like a kid in a candy store. Located in Thornbury, Goldsmith’s is a one-stop shop specialty grocery store that provides a high-quality selection of local meats, dairy, cheese, produce and other grocery products.
I recently had an opportunity to meet Kyle and Debby, members of the family that run Goldsmith’s and tour their farm land, greenhouses and orchards in the Thornbury and Clarksburg areas. Kyle’s family has had orchards for generations, initially supplying only to stores. In the 80’s, Kyle's father began supplying directly to consumers, first selling their goods out of a roadside stand until they purchased the market in 2013.
With a degree in agriculture from Guelph and having grown up with his parents owning an orchard, Kyle was an extremely knowledgeable tour guide. He is passionate about agriculture and the role that it plays in our community, economy and future.
We began our tour in one of their orchards where they explained that one of the risks faced by farmers is the volatility from year-to-year created by weather conditions. This year was a particularly difficult one for Kyle and Debby, having lost an estimated 60% (or more) of their apples due to a late frost. As we toured the orchards, Kyle pointed out the scarring and lack of seeds (which makes the apples unsuitable for longer term storage) created by the frost. Some of the trees were completely bare on the lower three-quarters, only growing apples at the top, while some areas of their orchards seemed to be less affected. Kyle explained that subtle changes in microclimate and elevation created the significant differences in how the trees were impacted by the frost. This is one of the reasons that it is so important to buy local. Kyle gave the example of visiting the grocery store and purchasing Ontario apples vs. Washington apples. When you buy local, not only is the food more fresh, but you are directly supporting your local economy, your neighbours and the environment. Buying local, you can also speak directly to the farmers and learn about how the food is grown and get to know the people and stories behind the food.
Their main crop is apples (they grow about 15 varieties), however, I quickly saw that they grow a little bit of everything! After visiting the orchards, we moved on to their tunnels that look a bit like greenhouses, but with openings at each end. This is where they grow raspberries, an incredible variety of stunning flowers, peppers, eggplant and 14 varieties of grape tomatoes (including their signature “red candy” that are incredibly sweet and flavourful). One of the interesting features they pointed out was the bee hives they have in the tomato tunnels, using the bees to help pollinate the tomatoes.
After visiting the tunnels where I plucked delicious tomatoes off the vine and Kyle cut a bouquet of flowers for me, we moved on to one of the corn crops where I learned how to pick sweet corn off the stalk. They explained that their corn is planted in stages so that it is ready at different times. They also shared that, once corn is picked, the sugars begin to convert to starch, so for the best flavour, they recommend keeping it cold if you aren’t going to eat it right away. You learn something new every day!
After adding a few cobs of corn to my growing produce collection, now consisting of apples, flowers and tomatoes, we went to the greenhouse where we added some cucumber. They also have a second, much larger, greenhouse under construction and almost complete which will allow them to extend the growing season even more, beginning with the first harvest in mid-April and growing until late November. Along with the areas we toured, they also grow beans, peas, lettuce, herbs, kale, zucchini, pumpkins, 12 varieties of squash and so much more!
When asked if there was anything else that they would like me to share, they talked about being mindful on the roads. They explained that every year, they have several close calls with drivers who are in a rush to navigate around farm equipment, passing unsafely. They described that during the growing season, farmers are often on the roads at all hours, trying to ensure that local produce gets into the hands of the community in a timely manner. These farmers have families, like Kyle and Debby’s two young children that they want to make it home safely to. They urged caution when passing, and shared that farm equipment can’t stop on a dime when a car passes and then slows down in front of them. As someone who often travels on country roads to participate in food adventures, this was a particularly poignant reminder for me.
Back to the market, most of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers are from their own farms and orchards, and their delicious baked goods (including their famous Thornberry pie) are also made in house daily. What is not made or grown there is sourced from other local providers. There is a LOT of local goodness packed into this small shop including fresh local meats, fish, dairy and cheese products. It is Goldsmith’s mission to stock the market with local and seasonal products from sources they know and trust that are produced mindfully and sustainably.
The market is open 7 days a week, from 9-6pm and they also offer online shopping for pick-up or local delivery to Thornbury, Blue Mountain, and between Collingwood and Meaford. To learn more, visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.
From their farm to your table, visit Goldsmith’s market and you’ll taste the difference local makes!