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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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10 Agritourism Destinations During Winterlude

A recent Ottawa Citizen article reported that City Councillor Doug Thompson wants visitors to “come for Winterlude and stay for the farms.” With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of fun farm destinations that Ottawa visitors can enjoy in February (or any month really).

  1. A farm stay at Gillenderry Farms in Pakenham. If you’re from out of town, why not stay in a B&B on a 170 year old farm just outside Ottawa? Gillanderry Farms is a working dairy and cash crop farm in Ottawa’s west end. The B&B offers three guestrooms in a beautiful old stone home. In your free time, you can visit the livestock and tour the farm’s museum containing 30 antique farm tractors!
  2. The animal barns at Canada Agricultural Museum. The exhibition areas are closed until February 26, but the animal barns are open. Drop by and visit with the dairy and beef cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, and chickens. Best of all, there’s no admission charge at this time of year (but donations are encouraged)! Continue reading “10 Agritourism Destinations During Winterlude”

Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary

Pot-bellied pig

A very special farm experience awaits those who make the trip out to Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary. Founded by Andy Parent, this Kemptville-area farm has taken in over 1500 unwanted and abused animals since 2002. Unlike most animal sanctuaries, the refuge takes in not only cats and dogs, but also horses, pigs, cows, goats, reindeer, and even bison. At any one time, there are usually about 150 animals on site, most of whom are available for adoption.

I met Andy Parent on a sunny fall day in September. He arrived from a back field on his ATV, followed by five dogs of varying sizes, including the boss of the pack, a little white maltese mix. Although I hadn’t called ahead, Andy was very welcoming and took the time to introduce me to the sanctuary and its history.

Andy Parent bought the 25.5 acre property as a hobby farm, a place to retreat from his busy life as a successful property manager in Ottawa. But it wasn’t long before he started taking in animals that had nowhere else to go, especially larger farm animals that didn’t fit into regular rescue protocols. Continue reading “Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary”

Kings Creek Trees and Ornamentals in Ashton

Sue Dyer with a pre-cut Christmas tree (larger ones also available)

There’s not much time left before Christmas, but if you still haven’t bought a tree, you might want to check out Kings Creek Trees and Ornamentals in Ashton. Tim and Sue Dyer sell pre-cut Concolor Fir, Douglas Fir, and Fraser Fir – varieties that are very rare in this area. The trees are from Sue’s brother’s tree farm in Pennsylvania, where her family has been growing Christmas trees for over 30 years. The plan is to eventually start selling trees from their own farm (more on this in a moment), but their own trees are still young and not ready to harvest. So in the meantime, you can buy some gorgeous Christmas trees from Sue’s brother’s farm – some of the nicest trees I’ve ever seen.

Kings Creek also offers Evergreen Wreathing Workshops on weekends in November and December. At most of the workshops, customers create large evergreen wreaths, but the final weekend (Dec. 18 and 19) is dedicated to evergreen table centrepieces and Christmas urn inserts/planters. If you want, you can also make the centrepieces or urn planters during a wreath workshop, as I did last weekend. Continue reading “Kings Creek Trees and Ornamentals in Ashton”

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Part 2: Fallowfield, Thomas, Hillcrest and Briggs Tree Farms

Thomas Tree Farm plantation
In yesterday’s post, I wrote about my visit to Ian’s Evergreen Plantation and Cedar Hill Berry Farm. Today I visited four more cut-your-own Christmas tree farms: Fallowfield Tree Farm, Thomas Tree Farm, Hillcrest Tree Farm, and Briggs Trees. Read on to find out more about each one (including pictures at the bottom of the post).

Fallowfield Tree Farm is a great option for people who want to stick closer to the centre of Ottawa. Located on Fallowfield Rd. in Stittsville, the farm is about 15 minutes west of downtown Ottawa. It has several activities for visitors, including a bonfire, hay rides, a couple farm animals, and a Santa who greets visitors in the parking lot. One word of warning – be careful about petting the goat, or your hand will smell like mine did for the rest of the day (even with the use of Purell)! I think it was a billy goat, because female goats usually don’t give off such a strong odour. But I can never resist petting animals, so I didn’t mind – just be aware if you go! Continue reading “Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Part 2: Fallowfield, Thomas, Hillcrest and Briggs Tree Farms”

Cut-Your-Own Christmas Tree: Ian’s Evergreen Plantation and Cedar Hill Berry Farm

Wagon ride over covered bridge
In all the years I’ve lived in Ottawa (going on 18 years – how time flies), I’ve never been to a Christmas tree farm. Which is a shame, because Ottawa has some really great cut-your-own Christmas tree farms, as I found out today when I visited Ian’s Evergreen Plantation and Cedar Hill Berry Farm. Even if you’re not looking to buy a Christmas tree, it’s worth going out to one of the local plantations to enjoy the festivities and natural surroundings (and maybe buy some other goods for sale – such as wreaths, hot chocolate, and preserves). Continue reading “Cut-Your-Own Christmas Tree: Ian’s Evergreen Plantation and Cedar Hill Berry Farm”

Wineries and Vineyards in the Ottawa Region

Before I started researching my agritourism guidebook, I had no idea there were so many wineries in the Ottawa region. There are 11 wineries within a one hour drive of Ottawa, and according to some of the vintners I’ve spoken to, we’re about to get a lot more in the coming years.

You may wonder: how can anyone produce a good wine in such a cold climate? Well, the grape I keep hearing about is called “Frontenac”. It’s a French-American hybrid developed at the University of Minnesota for very cold climates. You can read about it here.

In addition to grape-based wines, some of our wineries produce wines from other fruits, such as strawberries and apples. With so many winery touring options, there really is no need to go to Prince Edward County, the Eastern Townships, or Niagara (much as these places are great too).

Here’s a brief description of the wineries in our region. Click here for a map that I created with Google My Maps.

South of Ottawa:

Jabulani Vineyard and Winery: The Ottawa region’s newest winery. Really good wine, and a wonderful agritourism experience. They are located in Richmond, and are open from 11am to 6pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Labour Day. Full report here.

Green Gables Winery: A picturesque winery in Oxford Station (near Kemptville). They make their own wine from Frontenac grapes, and also produce wine from grapes from the Niagara region. This winery is for sale, so if your dream is to own a vineyard, have a look at the Green Gables Winery real estate listing.

Countryman’s Estate Winery: A winery in Prescott that specializes in fruit wine. Lots of very interesting wines – for example, who would have thought you can make wine from watermelon? I tasted the strawberry, black cherry, rhubarb, and watermelon wines. I also tasted a maple-flavoured wine that’s similar to sherry – delicious! One wine you must try is the “Green Salad” wine. We tried it a dinner party with some guests from Wisconsin, and it made for some great conversation! Continue reading “Wineries and Vineyards in the Ottawa Region”

SunTech Greenhouses in Manotick

Ripening tomatoes

Curious about how a large-scale hydroponic greenhouse works? Then stop by SunTech Greenhouses near Manotick, where you can tour a 2.5 acre greenhouse that produces tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables. If you’re in a group, you need to reserve in advance, but otherwise, just stop in and they should be able to show you around (it’s best to come earlier in the day though).

The tour begins with walk through a disinfection solution for your shoes, and then it’s off to the main greenhouse. This is where you will learn about the hydroponic growing method, which uses fertilizers dissolved in water to feed the plants. There is no soil involved in this process. The greenhouse is very clean and quiet – just lots of green plants, ripening tomatoes, and bumblebees. The bumblebees pollinate the fruit, and are apparently better workers than honeybees, mostly because due to the fact that they’re not busy producing honey! Continue reading “SunTech Greenhouses in Manotick”

Millers’ Farm & Market in Manotick

Pumpkins for sale

It’s not too often that you get picked up by the side of the road by a man in a John Deere tractor. But that’s exactly what happened to me yesterday when I visited Millers’ Farm and Market in Manotick.

I had gone to Millers’ to check out their agritourism operation. Millers’ Farm and Market has a little bit of everything: pick your own berries and pumpkins, wagon rides (on weekends), tours for school groups, a large gift shop, antiques, home-made preserves and pickles, a garden centre, and fresh local and Ontario produce. They also have an 8 acre corn maze, which is what I was looking at when Ron Miller came by on his tractor from a back field. He stopped the tractor to say hi, and when I told him that I was doing research on agritourism in the Ottawa region, he invited me to climb into the tractor for a tour of the farm! Continue reading “Millers’ Farm & Market in Manotick”

Rideau Pines Farm & Market in North Gower

Hot peppers

Have you ever dreamed of having a huge garden filled with dozens of different fruits and vegetables? Even better, a garden that you just happily walk into without a second thought about weeding, insects, or hungry animals? Rideau Pines Farm and Market is such a place – the perfect destination for those who love the idea of a garden, but don’t have the land, time, and/or talent to pull it off.

Rideau Pines Farm and market is a fresh fruit and vegetable farm that provides the option of picking your own produce. Matt Vandenberg, the owners’ son, showed me around the astounding variety of vegetables and fruit in the fields behind the market store. I saw tomatoes, peppers, squash, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, beans, eggplant, rutabaga, swiss chard – and at least 4 types of fall raspberries at their peak for picking. And there were more veggies in the fields beyond – pumpkins, corn, melons, brussel sprouts, and on and on. Continue reading “Rideau Pines Farm & Market in North Gower”

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