A couple hours north of Toronto, Grey Bruce County is home to many farmers and food producers and its also where Dave grew up.
A few months back he was asked to lead a chef’s mentorship program for the region as restaurants and chefs needed some advice on how to source more local product. He had successfully worked with farmers in Prince Edward Island and won the Taste our Island Award for his dedication to supporting the local food movement.
We’ve been really excited about the program for a while. It’s a great opportunity to visit his childhood home but also to meet people who are just as enthusiastic about sourcing local. And what a way to kick it off, we were invited to spend two days touring farmers and food producers.
Here’s just a sampling of what you can find in the region.
Roy’l Acres Microgreens
Run by Roy and Ginny they not only supply microgreens but they also grow gorgeous heritage vegetables and work with the local Mennonite growers.
Kolapore Springs Trout
If you order trout in Toronto it’s very likely that it’s coming from Kolapore. It’s fascinating how they’ve been able to sustainably farm trout.
Goldsmith’s Orchard & Farm Market
A great seasonal farmer’s market, if you’re looking to taste the county this is where to get all of your produce.
Wooldrift Sheep Dairy
Axel Meister is a pioneer in Canada’s sheep dairy industry and makes incredible artisanal cheese as well as other dairy products.
Coffin Ridge Winery
I was surprised to hear there was a winery so far north, but I liked how it didn’t take itself too seriously and much of the branding was coffin themed. With a tasting bar overlooking the Georgian Bay it’s worth a visit.
One of our favourite stops of the trip, Anita and her family supply lamb, duck, pork, poulty and in Anita’s spare time she taps maple syrup and has a bee hive. She also has a fantastic breakfast sandwich food truck. An amazing woman. Anita makes me feel lazy.
Located in Wiarton, a great place to buy fresh and smoked fish. I laughed when I saw the sign saying if its in the counter it means it’s fresh!
Bruce Huron Produce Auction
This must be Ontario’s biggest secret, a local Mennonite auction with ridiculously low prices. Even with a 3 hour drive it is worth it for people who can and preserve to make a trip up here.
Pheasant Hill Farm
Another amazing story of entrepreneurship, when Lisa was told she couldn’t raise chickens she decided to raise pheasants instead, which was no easy feat as many other pheasant farmers didn’t want to share their tips.
If you’re interested in how pigs should be raised talk to Lisa. She has fascinating methods and it’s clear she really cares about the welfare of her animals and the land they’re raised on.
Pine River Cheese
A dairy co-operative since 1885 this isn’t a small time producer like Axel at Wooldrift but it’s possible to stop in and get good local cheese and visit the museum upstairs.
Lazy J Ranch
Gail and Guy have been producing honey for years and have over 1200 colonies. If you want to know anything about honey, farming or buying local talk to Guy. This man has a lot to say and it’s worth hearing.
Johnston Creek Ranch
Our last stop and one of our favourites was visiting Murray and Jean. They raise longhorn cattle and we were able to see a calf born earlier that day. Murray shared the history of longhorn cattle and how the Spanish explorers deposited them on their travels.
If you have that fantastical idea of heading to the country and learning from passionate cattle ranchers you need to meet this couple.
While many people go east and west for day trips outside Toronto, Grey Bruce County is the perfect place to avoid the city crowds and meet some amazing people.