Local Farms to Visit This Year
One of my favourite things about living in Ontario is the availability of farm fresh produce. I am also a sucker for a farm visit, whether fresh produce, animals or flowers, I love them all! I especially appreciate seeing where my food comes from, meeting the people and hearing the stories behind the businesses and now I’d like to share some of my favourites with you.
Simcoe County Farms
Barrie Hill Farms - Barrie Hill Farms is a second generation family farm that grows over 200 acres of fruit and vegetables. You can take a scenic wagon ride and experience picking your own farm fresh crops of asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, beans, corn, apples, pumpkins and more. You can also visit the market and shop their selection of pre-picked produce as well as baked goods and other locally sourced grocery items. Be sure to keep an eye out for events like their Strawberry Festival, Canada Day weekend activities, Blueberry Pancake Festival and Fall Festival.
Hewitt Farm Market - If you’ve spent any time driving around Simcoe County in the summer, you’re sure to have seen Hewitt’s roadside stands selling fresh fruits, veggies, baked and canned goods. My favourite is their delicious corn. If you visit their farm in Warminster just outside of Orillia, there’s also a play area for the kiddos and mini golf for the whole family to enjoy.
Purple Hill Lavender - Purple Hill Lavender Farm is a small, family-run lavender farm
located in the rolling hills of Creemore. Although you can’t pick your own lavender, be sure to bring your camera and a picnic lunch so you can enjoy the beauty of the fields. There is also a store on site that sells beautifully scented lavender products made from the lavender on the farm.
Murphy’s Farm Market and Bakery - Murphy’s, located in Alliston, is a family run farm market and bakery open year round and selling in-season produce and especially delicious baking out of their farm market. They also have a play area, their “Fun Farm Yard” for the kids to enjoy. Keep an eye out for their Magical Christmas Vendor Market each November with holiday treats, activities and experiences for family to enjoy, plus a visit from Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick and dozens of amazing local vendors.
Harris Farms - Harris Farm in Minesing is a seasonal family run farm selling some of my favourite beef, sweet corn, fruit, vegetables and a limited but delicious selection of baked goods. Although it’s small, they keep adding to the experience every year, with their recently added sunflower field, pumpkin patch and corn maze. If you’re lucky, you can even feed some of their cows veggie scraps if the timing is right when you visit. They also have a wonderful selection of pumpkins, gourds and squash in the Fall and their prices are excellent.
Giffen’s Country Market - Giffen’s country market sells a little bit of all of their amazing products, which include baked goods, year-round apples from their orchards, ready-made meals and more. They also happen to sell one of my favourite butter tarts, which are one of their claims to fame, along with their amazing apple cider.
Fernwood Farms and Market - Is a seasonal market near Stayner that offers pick your own strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and more in the summer and houses a farm store that sells fresh produce, dairy, and delicious baked goods. They also have an excellent selection of pumpkins and gourds in the Fall.
Thorganic Farms - Thorganic Farms in Thornton runs a weekly farmers market that is unique in our area as they partner with other local farmers and food producers to post an online catalogue of items for pre-order during the week with farm pick up each Saturday. To pick up your items, you drive through the farm, pull up and everything gets packed into your car for you…it’s as easy as that! I especially love shopping there in the winter, when farm stands and some seasonal farmers markets close.
Laura’s Farm Stand - Laura's Farm Stand is a roadside stand in Innisfil that is open from the end of July until October with farm fresh produce for sale and flower fields to explore. The season begins with mouth watering peaches and cream sweet corn. Between August and September they have thousands of blooming wildflowers and sunflowers and you can walk their sunflower trail and pick your own wildflowers in the wildflower fields. In the fall they have a massive display of pumpkins with many varieties to pick from. Laura’s Farm Stand is a Simcoe County must and be sure to remember your camera, it's an amazing spot for photos.
Nicholyn Farms - Nicholyn Farms in Phelpston (near Horseshoe Valley) is one of my favourite all season farm stores to pick up local products, including a great selection of frozen game meat. This multi generational family-run business prides themselves on the statement, “local food you can trust”, from the treatment of their animals; and the optimal utilisation of Ontario's nutrient rich soil.
Rama Community Farm - Rama Community Farm is a community based farm owned and operated by the Chippewas of Rama First Nation focusing on food security and food sovereignty. Throughout the growing season they sell their products and also provide fresh produce to our elders at the community seniors centre and those still in their home, the Rama Food Bank, the Early Childhood Education Center and Kendassawin Elementary School. They also employ community members at the farm where they learn the traditional and natural ways of planting and harvesting, ensuring that community members develop skills to be able to provide for the community.
Sheldon Creek Dairy - Sheldon Creek Dairy opens out of Loretto where they craft the milk from their purebred Holstein herd into whole milk, yogurt, kefir, 45% cream, and more. You can visit the farm store or shop online and pick up some of their products as well as those of other local businesses. Keep an eye on their website to book their “Farm to Table” tours.
Curries Farm Market - Curries Farm is a family run farm operating a seasonal farm market in Collingwood. They have a wonderful selection of their own produce, as well as food products from other local businesses. It's a great spot to stop and do a bit of shopping on the way to or from Blue Mountain Village.
Grey County Farms
Goldsmith’s Farm Market and Bakery - Whenever I visit Goldsmith’s 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. Their main crop is apples (they grow about 15 varieties), however, they also grow a little bit of everything, from flowers, to berries, to vegetables, they do it all! Be sure to try their signature “red candy” tomatoes and their house baked “Thornberry Pie” when you visit.
If you’d like to read more about my visit and farm tour, visit my blog post, “Goldsmith's Orchard Market and Farm: From their Farm to Your Table.”
Secret Lands Farm - Secret Lands is a family run sheep farm near Flesherton. the beautiful property provides a home for over 400 sheep who roam free and graze on the pesticide free pastures. Secretlands produces a hormone-free range of delicious dairy products, artisanal cheeses and meats. They also provide tours, tastings and host events on their property so that others can discover the wonder of this hidden Grey County gem.
They also sell their small batch handcrafted products each Saturday at the farmgate on their property as well as the Wychwood, Evergreen Brickworks and St. Lawrence Farmers’ Markets. Their products are also for sale on their website and can be shipped anywhere within Canada.
To learn more about my visit to Secret Lands Farm, visit my blog post, “Secret Lands Farm - The Luxury of Handcrafted.”
Springhills Fish - I always like to know the stories behind my food, including how the food is produced and where it comes from, and that is one of the reasons that I love Springhills. They are passionate about education, from their special media presence, to their website, to the farm itself which has signage posted for self-guided tours, Springhills wants you to know about how your fish are raised.
Like any food producer, fish farms can have both higher and lower standards of practice and Springhills was the first land-based farm in central Canada to get certified by the Best Aquaculture Practices followed shortly after by Ocean Wise certification for sustainability. Additionally, their wild-caught pickerel is eco-certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and all of their boxes and vacuum bags are recyclable too!
They deliver right to your door and you can also find them at Sobeys, Metro or through Simcoe Harvest. You can also read more about Springhills Fish on my blog post, “Springhills Fish: Local a-fish-ionados”.
Good Family Farms - Good Family Farms is a Meaford farm whose fields are home to heritage-breed pigs, cattle and chicken, all of which are Certified Organic and regeneratively raised. They also sell their meat and eggs from the farm store on their property as well as online. Last but not least, they also offer farm tours from April right through to October, visit their website to book.
Dufferin County Farms
Lennox Farm - Lennox Farm is a family run farm in Loretto with a seasonal farmgate store brimming with produce and other local specialty items. One of the things that make them unique is their “forced rhubarb”, grown in a dark heated indoor barn and available January through May. Its unique taste is still tart, but sweeter than traditional rhubarb. Keep an eye out for rhubarb with small yellow leaves and you’ve found forced rhubarb. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked! Also, keep an eye on their workshops and “Field to Fork” dinner series happening throughout the summer at the farm where they have partnered with local chefs for a farm tour followed by a delicious dinner in the fields. Check out the “shop - events” section of their website for more details.
Farms you can’t visit but produce some of my favourite products
Local Leaf - Local Leaf is a Barriefarm founded on a passion to provide the local community with year-round access to fresh, pesticide-free, sustainable food, grown right in their community through indoor vertical farming. This technology produces 3 - 4x more food with 95 percent less water than traditional soil crops and allows them to feed their communities without using constantly decreasing land.
They also donate 5 percent of their produce to local charities, house the Barrie Community Fridge on their property and own and operate The Janice Laking Community Garden, working alongside passionate community volunteers. This 15,000 SqFt outdoor garden, located in the lot behind the vertical farm, allows community volunteers and stakeholders to grow produce, free of charge, for various charities and those in need in the city.
If you’re ready to try them out, you can find their products locally at Sobeys, Goodness Me and Foodland.
Miller’s Dairy - Miller’s Dairy is a family run farm located near Creemore Ontario that produces some of my favourite cow dairy products and ice creams from their herd of Jersey cows. Jersey milk has naturally high levels of protein, calcium and A2 Beta Casein which allows for easier digestion that other types of milk. Some of my favourite seasonal products are their eggnog and coffee milk which are not to be missed. You can find them at many of your favourite local stores including the Creemore 100 Mile Store, Barrie Hill Farms, North Barrie Market, Curries Collingwood, Simcoe Harvest, Harris Farms, Goodness Me, Country Produce, Foodland, Sobeys Loblaws, Zehrs and more.
Whispering Meadows- Located in Perth County, Whispering Meadows is my favourite source for naturally-raised, premium meats that provides delivery right to your door. They raise their animals free-range with organic growing methods, non-GMO feeds and without the use of antibiotics, hormones. You can really taste the difference that these practices make in their beef, chicken, pork, lamb and goat products.