Food. For many people, it is not clear how food gets from the farm to their grocery store. There are many discrepancies as to how the meat and produce we eat is treated before we consume it. Farm and Food Care Ontario‘s aim is to help people become more informed about the food they eat, from farm to table. This organization held their Fall Food Tour. I was invited to get up close and personal with a few of the local farms around Ottawa that produce food we buy for our families.
Hanging out with chicks
The first stop on our tour was to the Grenier/Bourdon Family Farm. We had the opportunity to tour their newest barn, built in 2017, to see how the chicks at this broiler chicken farm (chickens raised for meat) live.
We learned that Canada is 14th largest grower of chickens in the world. There are about 2 800 broiler families in Canada. With all of these chicken broiler farms, Canadians eat about 33 kilograms of chicken per year. That is a great demand for these farms to fill.
At the time of our visit, the chicks in this barn were teenagers. They were about 13 days old. We learned that chicks on a chicken broiler farm arrive here on the first day they are born and leave 40 days later.
Before entering the broiler chicken barn, we got dressed to the nines. Each of us on the tour wore a protective suit and booties to prevent cross contamination of disease for us and the chicks.
Once inside, we found out about the controls for the barn. We discovered how each barn is strictly cleaned every time a new set of chicks inhabits the barn. The climate and other factors can be controlled by the panel outside of the chick enclosure.
When we entered the inner barn, it was a sea of chicks as far as the eye could see. Approximately 27 000 birds live in the barn at a time. Fresh food and water is fed to the birds to eat. We were able to see the cute and soft down feathers alongside the longer, whiter adult feathers growing on these birds. It was interesting to see how these chicks lived with each other.
Local lunch delight
Once we said our goodbyes to our feathered friends, we travelled to Ferme Drouin for a buffet lunch featuring a delicious seasonal and local menu. From the Cold Salad Bar and Hot Buffet Options to the scrumptious Dessert Bar, our lunch really hit the spot!
My favourite part of the meal had to be the Dessert Bar. We were able to assemble our own Housemade Beavertails. There was a selection of toppings and seasonal sauces to choose from that would make any die-hard fan of this Canadian treat’s head spin. Three types of local goat’s milk ice cream were also available to increase the deliciousness of this part of the meal.
Picking some fun
To work off our lunch, our next stop was to Avonmore Berry Farm. Our group was on a tour of the farm and market by the owners, the Philips family and their dogs to see their diversified fruit and vegetable farm.
An array of fruits and vegetables that were grown on this farm. The crops are rotated each year in order to preserve the nutrients within the soil. Protective plastic is used to cover the soil and roots of particular crops. It is used for two years before it needs to be replaced. The Philips family also buy seeds for their crops from different sources each season in order to make sure they have a success growing season.
One of the best learning experiences we had while on Avonmore Berry Farm was amongst the Brussel sprouts. We were able to learn just how hearty these veggies can be. Our group got hands-on with the stalks of Brussel sprouts left in the field. We were able to see how difficult it was to remove these round veggies from the stalk by hand without a knife.
It took me about eight seconds to release this veg from its stalk. The Philips family and their seasonal works are able to fill eight bushels a day each. Let me tell you, I would not be able to meet this demand without a lot more practice.
We also got to see their fabulous strawberry and raspberry crops. Easier to pick than the Brussel sprouts, they were delicious to sample. The Philips family dog was happy to guide us around this part of the farm, snacking on the leftover fruits of the season as she showed off the fields.
We then popped into The Pantry, Avonmore Berry Farm’s market. Sweet treats such and jams, pies, muffins, scones and other delectable baked goods are for sale to visitors to the farm. Many of the ingredients for these goods are grown on the farm. There was so much to want to see, many of us boarded the bus with their wares to take home to enjoy.
A fabulous up close and personal experience
Farm and Food Care tours are always an amazing tour to experience. We were able to have our questions answered about the food we eat from the people who grow it and other experts. Seeing where our food comes from is important because you can see the process of how meat or produce goes from a certain point to another up close and personal. Being hands-on with food and produce also helped us become more appreciative of the work that goes into producing the food we purchase. It was a fabulous day of learning I will not soon forget.
Want to learn more about what Farm and Food Care Ontario do to inform Ontarians about the food they eat? I checked out their website to find out! I also connected with them on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube pages!
What type of farm would you want to visit to learn more about the food you purchase?
Disclaimer: I was a part of a media tour put together by Farm Food Care Ontario. The views I shared are my own.