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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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Moving the Blog to WordPress.com

Welcome to the new site! After 6 years of hosting the Agritourism Ottawa myself, I’ve decided to move it over to WordPress.com. The look and feel is a bit different, but the content is the same.

I haven’t written any new articles since 2012, but I occasionally update older entries when I hear that a business has closed. This industry changes constantly, so please always check with the agritourism destination before heading out.

Happy touring!

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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”

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”

What I Learned About Agritourism in 2010

Seeing as it New Year’s Day, I thought I’d write about the top 10 things I’ve learned since I started my agritourism project in the 2nd half of 2010. I’ve learned so much, but here is my shortlist:

1. Farmers work really hard (and for not much pay). Yeah, I know that one seems pretty obvious – we hear it all the time in the media. But I never really understood how true this is until I started visiting the various agricultural producers in our region, and realized just how much work it is to provide that meat or those vegetables or those nursery plants. And it is so difficult to make a living at producing those goods, unless you are a multi-million dollar business and/or you’re operating in a country with fewer regulations and environmental protections.

2. The more I learn about farming, the more I realize how little I know. Continue reading “What I Learned About Agritourism in 2010”

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”

More Quick Descriptions of Agritourism Visits

It’s been another busy few days as I continue to throw myself into full-time agri-touring. Here are some of the places I’ve been:

Domaine Perrault: A terrific winery in Navan that produces several different varieties of wine. Some are blended with grapes from Niagara, but others are 100% local to the farm. They also have ice wine.

Vignoble du Clos Baillie: A small winery in Aylmer, Quebec. This is where you go to dream about opening a winery in your backyard – if you had the money for all the expensive equipment! They also make an excellent ice cider (similar to ice wine). Cash or cheque only, but amazingly, they’ll let you mail in your cheque later if you don’t have one on you! Continue reading “More Quick Descriptions of Agritourism Visits”

A Quick Description of Several Agritourism Places I’ve Visited

I’ve been meaning to post more blog entries, but I’m so busy touring that it leaves very little time for writing. So rather than wait until I have time to write up more detailed reports, here’s a quick snapshot of the places I’ve been visiting. I will write more about these later. By the way, some of these places I visited yesterday – there’s no way I could see this many places in one day!

Agri-Tour 2010

This is the 15th Edition of Agri-Tour, an event organized by the Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network. Agri-Tour runs this weekend (Sept. 11-12) and next (Sept. 18-19). Details are at www.agritour.ca. Here’s where I’ve visited so far: Continue reading “A Quick Description of Several Agritourism Places I’ve Visited”

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”

Welcome to Agritourism Ottawa!

Did you know that there are over 200 agritourism businesses in the National Capital Region? I’m currently researching and writing a guidebook that will provide details on local agritourism experiences such as: Continue reading “Welcome to Agritourism Ottawa!”

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