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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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Trails

Wheeler’s Maple Sugar Camp and Pancake House

Wheeler's entrance
Wheeler's entrance

If the mild winter weather is filling your head with thoughts of spring and the maple syrup season, you may want to get a head start by visiting Wheeler’s Maple Sugar Camp and Pancake House. Located in the beautiful Lanark Highlands (about 90 minutes from downtown Ottawa), Wheeler’s is a year-round destination providing outstanding recreational and educational facilities. With groomed trails, a maple museum, farm animals, and a beautiful log restaurant, visitors can easily spend a half-day enjoying the sugar camp, even off-season.

I’ve been to Wheeler’s twice: once in the fall of 2010, and again this February. Both visits were outside the maple syrup season, so I was able to enjoy all the activities without the crowds. Of course, I didn’t actually get to see the maple syrup being made, which is certainly part of the fun of going to a sugar camp, but there were more than enough other activities to keep me entertained.

One of Wheeler’s unique features is its extensive trail system running through the 730-acre sugar bush. Continue reading “Wheeler’s Maple Sugar Camp and Pancake House”

Guide to Christmas Tree Farms in the Ottawa Region

In 2010, I visited a number of Christmas tree farms in the Ottawa region, and wrote articles about each of them. This year, I hope to visit a few more. In the meantime, here is a list of places where you can cut your own Christmas tree.

Note: Click on the links to see my original article for each tree farm.

Ottawa West

Ian’s Evergreen Plantation: This is one of the largest Christmas tree farms in the region. In addition to Christmas trees, they also have a herd of (real) reindeer, and they have some beautiful walking trails. Located in Ashton.

Cedar Hill Berry Farm: This Christmas tree farm is located on a very picturesque berry farm in Pakenham. They offer horse-drawn wagon and sleigh rides throughout the plantation; the best part is riding through a covered bridge over a small river. Be sure to buy some jam while you’re at the store – it’s the best in Ottawa (in my opinion)!
Continue reading “Guide to Christmas Tree Farms in the Ottawa Region”

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”

Pine Hill Orchards in Bourget

McIntosh apples

In 2010, the apple picking season ended earlier than usual. As a result, I didn’t get a chance to visit one of the orchards that I was most interested in: Pine Hill Orchards. So this year, they were the first on my list to visit (good thing, because I’ve had no opportunity to go apple picking since then, other than picking apples from a really old tree in the farmer’s field behind our property).

Pine Hill Orchards (or Vergers des Pins in French) is located east of Ottawa in Bourget, which is south of Rockland. The orchard is next to the LaRose Forest, a 26,000 acre publicly-owned forest with excellent recreational and nature-watching opportunities.

The orchard itself covers 50 acres, with 6000 trees and 20 varieties of apples. The Doran family has owned the orchard since 1995, and has planted cherry, pear, and plum trees, as well as grapes, to go along with the apple trees. As Paul Doran said to me, “It was a retirement project that went crazy.” Continue reading “Pine Hill Orchards in Bourget”

Jabulani Vineyard and Winery in Richmond

Tom and Janet Moul in the tasting room

Look out Prince Edward County and Niagara Region. Ottawa has quietly turned itself into a wine destination, with 10 wineries located within an hour of the city core. The newest is Jabulani Vineyard and Winery in Richmond (the southern part of Ottawa).

Jabulani opened only a month ago, but you’d never know from the quality of its wine and the immensely enjoyable tourist experience that owners Tom and Janet Moul provide.

I visited Jabulani around noon on a Friday – one of their quieter periods before the weekend rush. After turning down a long gravel driveway to their farm, I drove past the vineyards and parked in the grass-covered parking lot. As I got out of the car, Tom was already walking out to greet me. This is what I love about agritourism in Ottawa – no pretention, just welcoming, down-to-earth farm experiences.

Tom led me to his and Janet’s log home, where they’ve opened a tasting room in the lower level, with a walkout patio overlooking the vineyard. I was invited to take a seat at one of the wine barrel tables, where I would begin my wine tasting. Out came perfectly chilled wine, along with generous plates of cheese, crackers, and grapes. Continue reading “Jabulani Vineyard and Winery in Richmond”

Fortune Farms Sugar Bush

Making my maple taffy on snow

If you haven’t made it out to a sugar bush yet, you may want to head to Fortune Farms tomorrow for what may be their last day of the season. This Lanark County sugar bush provides an excellent introduction to the history and science of making maple syrup.  From sap boiled in kettles, to modern evaporators, you’ll be able to see how maple syrup production has progressed from pioneer to modern times.

Your first stop will be the modern maple syrup production building, where you’ll see the oil-fired evaporators with stainless steel pans, and will learn about modern production techniques using reverse osmosis.

Next, you’ll walk down a dirt road to the 1940’s sugar shack, where maple syrup is produced using an old-fashioned wood-fired evaporator. Here you’ll learn interesting facts about traditional maple syrup production – such as the huge amount of resources (wood and labour) needed to produce a small amount of syrup, or the fact that the steam contains small amounts of sugar, which sticks to the roof and attracts wasps in the summer. The best part is that you get a free sample of warm syrup freshly made from the evaporator, which should give you lots of energy for the rest of your visit! Continue reading “Fortune Farms Sugar Bush”

Temple’s Sugar Camp and Restaurant

Temple's Sugar Camp Restaurant

Earlier this week I made a trip out to Temple’s Sugar Camp and Restaurant in Lanark County, where I treated myself to some decadent Belgian Waffles covered with maple whip cream, blueberry preserves, and lots of pure maple syrup! I also checked out Temple’s excellent nature trail that runs through their sugar bush. For the full story, please go to the Local Tourist Ottawa website. Warning: Don’t read the article when you’re hungry!

Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush

Horse-drawn sleigh ride

Located between the picturesque towns of Almonte and Pakenham, Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush is one of the biggest sugar camps in Lanark County. And with the property being in the Fulton family for over 160 years, the current generation is tapping some of the same maple trees that their ancestors tapped in the 1840’s!

You may want to start your visit in the restaurant, where you can fill yourself up with enough sugar and carbohydrates to keep you going for the rest of the day. Unlike many other sugar bushes (especially in Quebec), you don’t need a reservation, so you can just come in, order your food, and sit down at one of the many long tables in the 120-seat restaurant.

Your food choices include pancakes, sausages, beans, and various desserts and drinks. Gluten-free pancakes are available, and if you need to bring your own food because of dietary restrictions, Fulton’s will be happy to heat it up for you.

The food service is cafeteria-style, with beverage stations and a maple syrup centre where you can apply as much maple syrup as you like. It’s been a while since I’ve had pancakes, so I was shocked at how quickly the pancakes absorb the syrup, and had to make a second trip to get more! The whole meal was delicious, and I was glad that I’d arrived hungry! Continue reading “Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush”

Ferguson Forest Centre in Kemptville

Larger trees for sale

Just south of Ottawa, eastern Ontario’s largest tree nursery welcomes nature lovers to explore its 1000 acres of plantations and forested Crown land. Since 1945, the Ferguson Forest Centre (FFC) has been providing tree seedlings for the reforestation of eastern and southern Ontario. Originally managed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the  nursery property is now owned by the Municipality of North Grenville and leased by the non-profit Ferguson Forest Centre Corporation.

There are three parts to the FFC property: a seasonal nursery outlet, the seedling production and research areas, and over 800 acres of forested Crown land with numerous walking trails.

The nursery outlet is open in the spring and fall. Visitors are free to walk through the greenhouses and view the many types of trees, from conifers to hardwoods to shrubs. Some of the trees are quite large (10 ft. or higher), while others are tiny seedlings available for less than a dollar each. Continue reading “Ferguson Forest Centre in Kemptville”

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