Sunday, September 19, 2010

Open Farms Prince Edward County

I had just the best day today. As regular readers of my various blogs know, I am very interested in food and where it comes from and how it is produced. I worry about cruelty to animals and also about the sustainability of fossil-fuel based agriculture. (That steak you ate last night was almost certainly raised on corn fertilized with petrochemical products and it is quite possible your vegetables were shipped half-way around the world, or at least across the continent).

Today was a perfect early fall day here in Prince Edward County, Ontario. And it was the first year of Open Farms. What that means is that farms across the county (and other parts of Eastern Ontario) opened their doors to the public.

I visited a dairy goat farm (where I had to protect my T-shirt from nibbling goats) to see the goats that produce the milk that is used at the cheese factory about a half hour drive away.

At another farm, I ordered my Christmas Turkey after viewing the turkeys in their barn and bought two cartons of eggs produced by the chickens I’d watched scratching in the weeds and dirt.

I went to a very experimental organic farm where they produce all of their own electricity. So experimental, they have avocados and kumquats and papaya growing in a geodesic dome to see if they can be grown in Canada.

I also visited an 83 acre organic vegetable farm worked by a RETIRED couple on their own. (The retired bit blew my mind). Now part of that 83 acres is wetland and bush, but they probably have about 30 acres under cultivation. And they make maple syrup from the bush.

Perhaps the farm I enjoyed best was an animal farm very close to my house. A one-family operation, they raise turkey, meat chickens, laying hens, pigs, sheep, and cattle. They grow feed for their own animals and also have a sugar bush from which they make their own maple syrup. The turkeys and meat chickens are kept in cages out in the fields but the hens wander the property, scratching and pecking. Laying hens, the farmer told me, are smart enough to return to the safety of the coop before dark. Broilers and turkeys are not, so they have to be kept contained. Cows and sheep came up to investigate me when I approached the fence. The barn is open and cows and sheep come and go as they please. The pigs were in a pen, but they had plenty of room to run about (and they bolted when I arrived) and clean straw beds.

I am going to a friend’s cottage tomorrow for a couple of days with a group of good friends (R.J. Harlick, Barbara Frankin, and Mary Jane Maffini) and will arrive loaded down with greens, heirloom tomatoes, fresh eggs, goat’s cheese, yellow carrots, tiny colourful sweet peppers. And wine. Can’t forget good PEC wine.

1 comment:

  1. Yummy post. There will be four dogs along with four friends and aside from delicious food the talk will be mostly of murder.