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Agritourism Ottawa

A Guide to Wineries, Orchards, Gardens, Farm Tours and Other Agricultural Adventures in the Ottawa Region

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Events

Victory Farm Alpacas in Lanark

This agritourism destination is now closed. The owners have sold the farm.

People often ask me, “What is the favourite agritourism place that you’ve visited in Ottawa?” It’s a tough question to answer, because there are so many excellent places to visit, and I have so many favourites. But when it comes to picking the place where I felt the most sheer joy, that would have to be Victory Farm Alpacas. There is really nothing like entering a farm pasture and having a herd of alpacas come running up to greet you. The animals are graceful, curious, and most of all, adorable – it’s like being surrounded by giant teddy bears that have come to life. Have a look at this quick video to see what I’m talking about:


Continue reading “Victory Farm Alpacas in Lanark”

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Mazes and Haunted Delights at McMaze

Start of the Haunted Walk

If you’re looking for a Halloween-themed outing this weekend, you should definitely check out McMaze. Located just north of Cornwall, McMaze is a four-season agritourism destination that specializes in mazes and Halloween activities. In fact, it’s quite a bit like Saunders Farm, but on a smaller scale, with more of a true farm feeling to it.

I visited McMaze last October, on a beautiful sunny day during the week. I was there on my own, having just finished up a mushroom farm tour in Eastern Ottawa (see my Continental Mushroom article here). It must have seemed strange that I was there by myself, especially since I was the only visitor that afternoon, but I was made to feel very welcome. (By the way, like many of my agritourism visits, I wanted to experience the farm as a regular visitor, and didn’t reveal that I write for this blog.)

McMaze is located on a working farm, and has many activities to entertain both adults and children. As the name implies, they have several mazes on the property, the largest being their corn maze, which changes every year (this year’s theme is Canadian Symbols). The maze is very relaxing – it’s more about enjoying a walk through a corn maze than actually getting lost. Continue reading “Mazes and Haunted Delights at McMaze”

Upcoming Event: Alpenblick Farm Tour on Saturday, August 13th

I’m very excited to announce that I’m working with Locavore Tours to promote their upcoming farm tour to Alpenblick Farms!

Locavore Tours is a new tour company founded by Jasen Brousseau, an Environmental Studies student who aims to reconnect people to their food. He organizes bus tours to local farms, where participants meet the farmers, learn about organic and sustainable farming, and enjoy a chef-prepared, organic lunch.

Locavore Tours’ next tour is on Saturday, August 13th. The destination is Alpenblick Farm, an organic, off-the-grid farm located in Ashton. On this tour, visitors will:

  • Get a tour of the farm
  • Visit with the farm animals
  • Witness vintage Swiss cheese making
  • Enjoy a lunch prepared by an Organic Chef
  • Have the opportunity to purchase food directly from the farm (at a special Locavore Tours discount!)

All this for only $20 per person!

Transportation is by school bus, with pick up at Eagleson Park n Ride in Kanata at 9:30 am, and drop-off at approximately 2:30 pm.

I can guarantee that this is going to be a fascinating tour. I met Robert Oechsli from Alpenblick Farm last year at Herbfest, and he is a super-interesting guy. I can’t wait to see his farm and discover more about how he is farming sustainably and organically.

To sign up for the tour, please visit www.locavoretours.com, and click “Tour Sign Up”. The tour is limited to only about 20 people, so sign up early to avoid disappointment.

C’est Bon Cooking Food Tour with Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa

Murray's Market cheese plate

Earlier this month I attended my first Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa event. The evening brought 20 or so women (and a couple guys) together for a wonderful foodie tour of the Ottawa ByWard Market, led by Paola St-Georges from C’est Bon Cooking.  As someone who spends most of their time in the rural areas surrounding Ottawa, it was great to explore downtown for a change. To read about the tour and all the great stores we visited, please visit the Local Tourist Ottawa blog, where I wrote an article located here.

All Day Cheese Tour: Black River Cheese and Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Fifth Town: Aging Cave

When we finished our tour at Maypul Layne Farms, we headed off to Black River Cheese Company. This small-scale cheese factory is located on the Black River – a very picturesque spot in Prince Edward County. The company is a small co-operative owned by local farmers, and specializes in cheddar, mozzarella, brick, and fresh curd.

Our tour included an overview of the cheese making process, followed by a peek into the warehouse containing over $1 million in cheese. There were some interesting discussions about the milk quota system, which sets the amount of milk that cheese makers are entitled to; if they need more, they must lease the extra quota from another producer (which I assume is quite expensive). We were told that the only exception is when a cheese maker develops a cheese that no one else is producing, in which case, they can apply for up to 10 million litres extra quota per year. I’m not sure how they define a unique cheese, but apparently it doesn’t count if you just add different flavours (like hot peppers, for example). Continue reading “All Day Cheese Tour: Black River Cheese and Fifth Town Artisan Cheese”

All Day Cheese Tour: Maypul Layn Dairy Farm

Martin Miller with one of his dairy cows

As readers of this blog know, my main writing focus is agritourism. I profile farms and agribusinesses that open their doors to their public, providing a glimpse into the passion and hard work that goes into producing the agricultural products that we often take for granted.

One type of farm that rarely opens its doors is a dairy farm, whether the farmers are raising cows, sheep, or goats. The main reason is that biosecurity is a big issue in the dairy industry; everything must be kept very clean to ensure a safe milk supply. In fact, you are a bigger risk to the animals than the animals are to you, so there’s too much risk for most dairy farms to provide regular tours of their operations.

However, you will occasionally run across opportunities to tour a dairy farm – usually one-time events that are easier for the farmers to manage. So when I saw that the Cheese Festival was offering a bus tour that included two dairy farms, I immediately signed up. One of the tours was for a cow dairy farm, and the other was for a dairy goat farm.

Sadly, the dairy goat farm tour was cancelled at the last minute, due to a tragic event on the farm. Continue reading “All Day Cheese Tour: Maypul Layn Dairy Farm”

Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Prince Edward County

Chef Anthony Rose from the Drake Hotel

I just returned from a wonderful 3-day weekend in Prince Edward County, where I attended the 1st annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival. I had such a great time touring cheese factories, sampling outstanding cheese, and most of all, meeting so many inspiring and passionate people who were part of the event. As one woman I met said, “This is like a wedding, but without the bride and groom!”

Over the next few blog entries, I will provide details about the tours, seminars, and tasting events that I attended. This should provide lots of ideas for agritourism experiences in Prince Edward County and beyond, and will also give you some ideas for great cheeses to seek out from your local cheese shop.

Here are the topics I will cover in the next blog entries:

  • An all-day bus tour that took us to a dairy farm, Black River Cheese, Vicki’s Veggies, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, and County Cider
  • A full day of cheese seminars covering Canadian cheddar, cheese from Quebec, and artisan cheese in Ontario
  • The Cooks and Curds gala featuring tasting dishes prepared by eight Canadian chefs with eight Canadian cheeses and paired with Ontario wine and beers
  • The  Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair where cheesemakers and producers of artisan foods offered their products for sampling and purchase

It’ll take me a few days to cover all these topics (unless I write faster than I usually do), so keep checking back for new updates, including pictures from the various events.

Cheese and Wine Lovers: 3 Great Events and a GIVEAWAY!

Artisan Cheese
Artisan Cheese

Great news! There are three exciting wine and cheese events coming up this month, and I’ve got tickets to give away for one of them! Read on for more details.

On Wednesday, May 18th, Savvy Company is holding a Quebec Artisan Cheese Tasting at Thyme and Again in Westboro. Tickets are $60 each, and there are only a couple seats left, so you’ll need to act fast if you want to go.

On Wednesday, June 1st, Savvy Company is also holding a Taste and Buy event with the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The event is taking place at the National Arts Centre’s Terrace Tent, with 26 wineries showcasing their latest releases of wine. Tickets are $45 when purchased before May 20th. Sounds like a great way to spend a Wednesday evening!

And finally, the Great Canadian Cheese Festival is being held in Prince Edward County from June 3rd-5th. From the festival’s website:

For the first time in Canada, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival brings together the country’s leading cheesemakers from coast-to-coast so cheese lovers can meet to learn, talk, taste and buy the best in artisan, farmstead and specialty cheese—and sample fine wine, craft beer and artisanal foods.

Last week I attended a media launch in Ottawa for this event, and got a preview of what attendees will be enjoying at the festival. Continue reading “Cheese and Wine Lovers: 3 Great Events and a GIVEAWAY!”

May Agritourism News

I apologize for not posting many entries lately. For personal reasons, I haven’t been able to focus much time on agritourism lately, but hopefully that will change as the weather warms up and the growing season gets into full swing.

Here are a few recent agritourism-related developments that readers may find interesting:

1. New Garden Centre in Carp opening on Saturday, May 7th: Our friends at Kings Creek Trees and Ornamentals are opening a full service retail garden centre at 153 Donald B. Munro Drive. This is exciting news for the Carp area, which is also home to the new organic farm at Carleton Growers. For those not familiar with Kings Creek Trees, have a look at my previous article about their tree farm and perennial garden business, where they grow an interesting assortment of trees, ornamental grasses, exotic thistles, and wetland plants. Their new business in Carp is a welcome addition to the community, and definitely worth checking out on their opening weekend! 

2. Farmers’ markets opening dates: Many farmers’ markets are starting up this weekend. Here is a list from Ottawa’s Rural Affairs Office:        

Continue reading “May Agritourism News”

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