Last Sunday we loaded up a bus with 35 friends, family, customers and colleagues and headed out to visit three farms in the Manotick/Osgoode region.
This was the second in a series of bus tours that we will schedule on a quarterly basis to connect our community with the farms that feed us.
Our first stop was for a tour of Suntech Greenhouses in Manotick. The initial facility was constructed in 1999 and covered 2.3 acres of the land. An additional twelve thousand square feet was added in the spring of 2001, bringing the greenhouse acreage to 2.5 acres. Since then, the infrastructure was increased by 1.5 acres in 2010, bringing the total greenhouse surface to 4 acres. Using state of the art hydroponic techniques Suntech provides premium quality produce and has been a supplier to the Red Apron for a number of years.
Our lively host and business owner Bob Mitchell toured us around the greenhouses, explaining the intricacies of hydroponic growing techniques. We learned about how they use good bugs to eat bad bugs, which music stations they find the most inspiring for their pickers, and the trials and tribulations of farming year round in our climate. The tour made us a bigger fan of their produce than we already were.
And of course, we were able to shop in their store for lovely fresh picked tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and eggplant for our picnic!
Our second stop was Clarmell on the Rideau, where Paul & Grace operate a fifth-generation farm that has been in the family for more than 100 years. In Recent years, Paul & Grace have moved from milking cows to milking goats, and produce a lovely Feta and Chevre, made 100% with their own goats’ milk, in a winning partnership with the Glengarry Fine Cheese Factory in Lancaster, Ontario.
Turns out that goats love having their picture taken. They also love attention, are extremely docile and super cuddly. Everyone fell in love with these creatures and we have all decided that we want to have one or two as pets.
The family welcomed us with open arms and had set up a farm stand full of baked goods, cheese & sweets. Again, we stocked up on items for our picnic and carried on to the next destination!
Millers’ Farm & Market near Manotick was founded in 1981. Best known for their berries –they grow red and purple raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, elderberries and wild blueberries. When we arrived Susie Miller had put picnic tables under a tree for us to lay out our goodies on. We spread out the food and our picnic blankets and enjoyed a lovely meal of fresh vegetables, goat cheese, True loaf bread, terrines, berries & baked goods.
Then the Miller’s took us by tractor trailer to the picking fields where we loaded up our baskets with sweet juicy berries.
The weather was fantastic, the farmers were generous and gracious, and the company was fun. I would say a good time was had by all.
We are Mothers, residents of our community, entrepreneurs as well as active participants in our local economy. We individually have a history of owning and operating successful local businesses.
Our commitment to getting people “back to the table” starts at home and extends to our community through a number of philanthropic endeavours.