Ontario is blessed to have some of the most productive and diverse farms anywhere. Many people have made New Year’s resolutions to cook from scratch, eat healthier, and support local initiatives. Combine these ambitions by exploring the many amazing farm shops across the province.
Arva Flour Mills
As Canada’s oldest continuously operating water-powered flour mill, Arva Flour Mills in London allows visitors to get a sense of what Canada’s early mills were like.
Enjoy a walk around the pond and along Medley Creek, see the huge grain towers, and browse the old-time general store that offers Arva products, including pasta, rice, beans, sugars, and flours, packaged simply in small plastic bags or for sale in brown paper or cotton bags.
Since the 1940s, the Reiblings have been farming in the Tavistock area, growing from a traditional farm to an organic operation. Today, there mill offers non-GMO, Certified organic grain, cereal, seed, and bean products. Their on-site store offers their full range and is open year round.
Spirit Tree Cidery
When it comes to producing a refreshing, quality beverage, apples are the new grapes. Caledon has the Spirit Tree Cidery, which mimics the attractive architecture (a beige stucco covering its straw bale walls) and gourmand experience of a winery but uses the humble apple to create a memorable experience. This wonderful local attraction proves an apple a day – in the form of cider – is not only healthy but a delicious way to cool down in the summer or warm up in the winter. They not only have a shop with their products (as well as other local food products and art), but there’s an excellent café on site.
Wheeler’s Maple Syrup
Lanark is home to several excellent maple producers. Wheeler’s is just one, but their pancake house and shop is one of the few that is open year round. While you’re there enjoying a hearty breakfast or picking up an extra large bottle of syrup for your pantry, you can also hike or snowshoe through their forest trails.
Forest Glen Herb Farm
This Forest Glen herb shop turns shopping into an experience for all your senses. The air is filled with the herb plants, annuals, and perennials in their greenhouses, floral arrangements and wreaths decorate their shop, a tea room provides a welcome tasty treat, and visitors can browse (and touch) the many types of herbal products found here, including bath products, jellies and preserves, and potpourri. The shop also offers classes in growing produce, making herbal products, and more.
The popularity of lavender as an ingredient and farm product has seeming skyrocketed. Renowned for its calming and soporific effects, this attractive herb attracts visitors to its fields during its summer bloom. There are so many shops across the province, it’s hard to choose just one as especially worthy of a visit – so here are a few: Weir’s in Dundas, Sparta Lavender Farm, and Neob Lavender in Niagara.
Bayfield Berry Farm
One of the farm’s signature products is the Saskatoon berry. This seedless berry, along with the farm’s other traditional berries and fruits, is turned into delicious jam and cider. The farm shop also has a bakery with pies, cakes, bread, and tarts.
Thomson Strawberry Farm
It’s not common to find a delicate berry like the strawberry thriving in Northern Ontario, but Thomson’s Strawberry Farm in Sault Ste Marie has done it for the past four decades. In addition to their berries, the shop also offers jams and baked goods.
Red Cat Farm
This new organic farm produces potatoes and duck, sold in their farm shop. However, this site is most well-known for its baking. From their brick oven, Red Cat’s Master Baker Christian Burden produces a variety of beautiful and healthy loaves, made from spelt, rye, and sourdough.
Downeys Farm Market
Conveniently situated for Torontonians, just north of the city, this farm market is open May to December, but it particularly known for its autumn Pumpkinfest and corn maze. The farm also grows berries, corn, free-range turkeys, Christmas trees and squash, while the farm store offers a wide range of local food products and baked goods. There’s also a family fun play area for youngsters.
Kurtz Orchard Niagara
This picturesque farm showcases agritourism done right. Tram tours and walking trails take visitors through 50-acres of orchard, ponds, and vineyard. Their farm market sells their renowned preserves, in 50 rich flavours, as well as offering delicious meals to eat at a picnic table or take away.
Johnson’s Cranberry Marsh
Ontario is one of the few places in the world with cranberry bogs. Johnson’s Cranberry Marsh in Bala is perhaps the best known, as featured in the town’s famous festival celebrating this tart fruit. Their year-round farm store stocks fresh, frozen, juiced, chocolate-covered, preserved, and dried cranberries as well as their cranberry wine.
Make the trip for fresh farm products a full day of fun for the whole family at this Aylmer attraction. The shop includes six different honey flavours and 12 honey spreads (such as cinnamon, chocolate, and maple) to sample, produced by Clovermead’s own 24 million bees. When you’re done sampling the honey, head out to the adventure farm with all the rural fun you could imagine, from zip lines to rope swings to pedal karts to a corn maze. You can also tour the farm and meet with the beekeeper during the summer.
The shop is closed January and February and the Adventure Farm closed from November through May. The Adventure Farm is $11/person.
The Honey House
The bright blue and yellow of the Honey House in Clarksburg attracts honey lovers of all kinds. Pots of honey and a variety of bee products, including candles, are available here. The beekeeper owners are happy to chat about bees and the honey-making process with visitors.
Board’s Northern Nectars
Making use of the wild areas and organic agriculture in the area, this Nipissing farm’s 300 hives have produced honey for over 40 years. The farm shop offers the full range of honey inspired products, including cosmetics and soaps, condiments (such as honey-sweetened jellies and honey mustard), and even furniture and leather polish. The shop is found on the same site as the farm and includes walking trails.
On Tuesdays mornings and Thursday afternoons during July and August, you can take a guided tour of the farm and make a set of candles to take home. The tour is $7.50/person
White Rock Ostrich Farm
Ostrich meat and eggs may not be a staple for most people, but maybe it should be. Did you know that the red meat of this bird is lower in fat and calories than chicken breast, but with the same type of iron and protein benefits? If you're open to giving it a try, stop by this Rockwood farm, which also sells other 'exotic' meats, including water buffalo, wild boar, bison, kangeroo, camel, and crocodile in different forms including burgers, sausage, stew, and pepperittes.
From June through October, the farm also offers tours, opportunities to feed the ostriches, and hayrides for $5/kid and $/adult.
If you're looking for animal prodcuts from hormone- and GMO-free, pasture-raised animals, you can't do better than Landman Gardens in Grand Valley. Their primary meats are from pigs and chicken, plus a variety of products, such as goats milk and vegetables.
Visit the farm, which is open to visitors at various times between February and December, and of course stop by the bakery. They offer tasty twists on classic recipes, such as butter tarts, bagels, breads, and savoury and sweet pies.
And if you're looking for a unique place for a small event, you can't do better than their dry stone Blackhouses. Available for private events or during scheduled dinner events open to the public, the Blackhouses are cozy and charming places to break bread.
Thunder Oak Cheese Farm
Perhaps Ontario's most northern independent cheese maker, this Thunder Bay Gouda maker uses their own farm's cow milk for their colouring and preservative free cheese. The farm store offers 13 flavours and four 'ages' of cheese.
Egli’s Sheep Farm
This sheep farm, first opened by Swiss immigrants in the early 1950s, is one of Canada's largest wool and sheepskin operations. The products are manufactured and sewn on site, offered through this Northwestern Ontario shop. From hats to shoes to jackets, there's something for everyone.
There is also an on-site animal park with domestic and exotic animals.
Mariposa Duck Farm
This picturesque Eastern Ontario farm not only has a shop with its fresh duck, eggs, goose, pork, quail, rabbit, pheasant, guinea fowl, and Cornish hens, but also offers a variety of gourmet vegetables grown on the farm.